Barley Asparagus Risotto

Barley asparagus risottoForgive me if I’m a little late with an asparagus recipe. I know that our markets are almost out of it here, but perhaps you’ll get lucky and still be able to pick some up. We enjoyed our weeks of asparagus riches in many ways, most of them simple preparations. I also experimented skeptically with eating raw asparagus and found we loved it. For your next picnic, you might try this very bright salad with or without the arugula.

This recipe resulted from a toddler’s demand of risotto and a bulk aisle that was out of arborio rice. It took a little longer to cook up than regular risotto, but the textures were really interesting and the result was delicious – both cozy and springlike. Continue reading “Barley Asparagus Risotto”


Creamy Asparagus Sauce

Here’s an adventurous way to serve asparagus – as a  pasta sauce! We’ve served it over wide, fresh pasta or gnocchi. Either way, it’s a dish that says spring.

This recipe and technique is adapted from one of our favorite cookbook authors, Nick Stellino. If you don’t have your own Italian grandmother, adopt Nick.Asparagus Sauce

Sauce for four plates.

olive oil
4 garlic cloves
1 small onion or 2 spring onions
1 pound asparagus
1/4 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/3 cup cream

  1. Prepare your vegetables. Thickly slice the garlic cloves. Coarsely chop your onion(s). Cut the tops off of the asparagus and set aside. Chop the stems into rough 1 inch pieces.
  2. In a pan over medium-high, heat about 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add garlic, onion, and the stems of the asparagus. Cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Add wine and boil to reduce, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add chicken stock, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Simmer for 5 minutes to soften the asparagus.
  5. Pour the mixture into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. (If there is a gap in the top of your food processor, be sure to cover it with a folded wash cloth to avoid hot, spattering sauce.)
  6. Add 2 more tablespoons of olive oil to the pan.Heat on medium-high. Add asparagus tops and cook for about 1 minutes, stirring briskly.
  7. Add the blended asparagus mixture to the tops in the pan. Stir. Add the cream. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  8. While the sauce simmers, cook your pasta. Using tongs, toss your cooked pasta with your sauce, plate, and top with Parmesan.

Time for Asparagus

My favorite way to prepare asparagus is on the grill. Just rub it down with some olive oil, sprinkle some salt and pepper, and lay it on there. If you don’t feel like starting up the grill, here’s a comparable substitute. It’s almost too embarrassingly easy to call it a recipe, but since this is a blog about learning ‘how to,’ here it is:asparagus

To roast asparagus in the oven:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Toss asparagus in an open baking dish with about 1 tbls. of olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  3. Roast for about 15 minutes (or until it smells like asparagus.)

Asparagus is best eaten on the day that you get it, but if you need to store it, here’s a tip. Cut the very bottom ends off, as you would for cut flowers, place in a mug of water, and put a plastic bag over the top. Refrigerate this whole contraption for up to 1-2 days.