spring harvest in Paris : 4


early APRIL  ::   green garlic and asparagus — w/ risotto recipe

GREEN (rose) GARLIC : plump and full of delicate flavor, has begun to peak its head around the corner at the marchés in Paris. You can tuck a head or two into your shopping bag all throughout spring (perhaps even into the early summer months). All young fresh allums (onion, shallot, garlic) are kindly digestible, so don't deprive yourself of their savor. So...
Cut off the top and bottom of the head. Separate the cloves and remove the exterior leaves, until you get down to the firm heart. C
hop the fresh garlic and sprinkle on a salad, or toss the whole cloves with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and roast in a hot oven, on the top rack, for 10 minutes or so. Great with roasted beets. And don't throw those exterior layers away, toss them into a pot with a bit of carrot, celery, onion and whatever parings might be laying around. Cover generously with water. Add a few sprigs of parsley and fresh thyme, a fresh bay leaf, a few peppercorns. And cook at a simmer, uncovered, for 40 minutes or so. Strain and you've got a lovely garlic-infused broth.

Good ol' green ASPARAGUS stalks are mostly bundled together and sold as une botte (a bunch) at marketplaces here in Paris from April to June. I love to toss them with a bit of olive oil, lightly roast them in a hot oven for just a few of minutes and season them with fleur de sel as I pull them out of the oven. Then toss them into a risotto, recipe is below...
Now I say good ol' because in France it is white asparagus that reigns supreme — funny this fascination with the "torturing" of  certain vegetables (leeks, Belgian endive, radicchio rosso di Treviso, asparagus), only to turn around and venerate them. By torturing I mean depriving them of any sunlight (no, white asparagus is not a variety in and of itself), heaping mounds of sand up and over each stalk from the moment it sprouts till the time it is hewn. Merciless, I'd say! In this way no chlorophyll develops — God forbid —  giving the normally rotund white stalks a supposedly milder flavor.

ASPARAGUS RISOTTO - serves 5 – 6 people
= best in spring

280 gr / 10 oz rice Carnaroli or Arborio superfine
1 kg / 2 lbs very fresh green asparagus, the slimmer the better
1 ½ - 2 liters vegetable broth
100 gr / 3.5 oz red onion, finely chopped
Zest of 1 lemon, dried
120 ml dry white wine (Sauvignon blanc works nice), room temperature
80 g r / 3 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano freshly grated
60 gr / 2 oz unsalted butter, room temperature (or 3 tBsp extra virgin olive oil)
Extra virgin olive oil
Unrefined sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

— Zest the lemon and set the zest. Spread out on a plate and set in a warm place to dry for about an hour.
— Preheat the oven to 225 ˚C (425 ˚F).
— Wash the asparagus. Trim off the bottom of each stalk, which is normally woody, by holding the lower half of the spear between your hands and giving a snap. If the stalks are fatter, lightly peel the bottom two-thirds of the stalk with a vegetable peeler. (Place the discarded stalks and peels in a small saucepan, generously cover with water boil at a good bubble until soft, a good 20 minutes, adding more water to cover if necessary. Pass through a food mill (or rather fine strainer) and return the purée to the saucepan.)
— Bring the vegetable broth to a simmer.
— Spread the asparagus out in a single layer in a large baking dish. Toss generously with extra-virgin olive oil to coat. Cover the bottom of the dish with a film of water. Cover with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Place in the oven and cook for 5 - 8 minutes, depending on the fatness of the spears. Remove the aluminum foil and cook for another 5 - 8 minutes. Test with a knife, they should be nicely al dente (better more al dente than not because they will continue to cook a bit once added to the rice). Transfer to a cutting board. Cut crosswise into large bite-sized pieces, keeping the tips whole and set aside from the rest
— While the asparagus is baking, heat a couple generous drizzles of olive oil in large wide pan over medium heat until runny. Add the chopped onion and sweat until soft, 2 - 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the rice and stir to coat. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally until the kernels turn bright white inside and transparent around the edges. Add the white wine and stir until absorbed. Add a first ladle of simmering broth and cook until almost absorbed, stirring occasionally. The sauce should begin to have a creamy, starchy consistency. Add more broth one ladle at a time, stirring with each addition and allowing it to be mostly absorbed before adding the next ladle.
— Heat the purée in the small saucepan. When the rice is al dente, approx 15 minutes, add the purée along with the asparagus pieces, reserving the tips for the last moment, and cook for another minute or two. Add more broth if needed — the risotto should be quite liquid or all’onda (wavy).
— Remove from the heat. Add the Parmesan, lemon zest, and butter or olive oil. Cover and let sit for a couple minutes. Remove the lid and stir rapidly, or “mantecare

1 comment:

  1. Exactement ce dont j'ai envie en ce moment, je vais suivre ta recette en omettant le parmesan. Miam!