Spring Recipes to Savor


The perfect spring meal, mushroom and Parmesan risotto with roasted asparagus is a delicious pairing. Both mushrooms and asparagus are traditionally associated with early spring because mushrooms can be easily dried and preserved for use throughout the year and can be eaten before gardens are producing, while asparagus is one of the first vegetables of spring. Recipes courtesy of Elise Bauer via simplyrecipes.com.



Roasted Asparagus

1 lb asparagus spears
1-2 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt
Freshly grated black pepper
Lemon juice (or balsamic vinegar)

1. Preheat your oven to 400°F (205°C). Rinse the asparagus spears. If the ends are tough, break them off or use a vegetable peeler to peel away the tough outer skin of the fatter ends of the asparagus.
2. Line a roasting pan with foil. Arrange the asparagus spears in a single layer on the lined roasting pan. Drizzle with and rub the spears all over with the olive oil to coat. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and minced garlic, and rub over the asparagus spears to evenly distribute. 
3. Roast at 400°F (205°C) for 10 minutes or until the asparagus is just lightly browned and tender when you pierce with a fork.
4. To serve, drizzle with fresh lemon juice or balsamic vinegar, and if you want, a sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese. Yields 4 servings.

Mushroom and Parmesan Risotto

2 tbsp. butter
2 cups flavorful mushrooms such as shiitake, chanterelle, or oyster mushrooms; cleaned, trimmed, and cut into half inch to inch pieces
⅔ cup brandy, vermouth, or dry white wine
5-6 cups chicken stock (use vegetable stock for a vegetarian option)
⅓ cup of peeled and minced shallots (OR 1/3 cup of yellow or white onion, finely chopped)
1¾ cups arborio rice or other risotto rice
⅓ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley or chives

1. In a saucepan, bring stock to a simmer.
2. Sauté the mushrooms by first melting the butter in a deep, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and shallots and sauté about 5 minutes (if using chanterelles, dry sauté first for a minute or two and let the mushrooms cook in their own juices before adding the butter). 
3. Add the rice and stir to combine. Add brandy, bring to a boil, and reduce liquid by half, about 3-4 minutes.
4. Add simmering stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring enough to keep the rice from sticking to the edges of the pan. Stir the rice almost constantly—stirring separates off the starch from the rice, making the creamy sauce you’re looking for in a risotto. Wait until the stock is almost completely absorbed before adding the next 1/2 cup. This process will take about 25 minutes. The rice should be just cooked and slightly chewy.
5. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley or chives. Yields 4-6 servings.