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Asparagus and Mushroom Risotto

Bring the flavors of a garden harvest to your table with this delicious Asparagus and Mushroom Risotto recipe! For this preparation, I used fresh asparagus, Maitake mushrooms, minced shallot, dry white wine, some pinches of fresh thyme and red pepper flakes (to give it a little kick), along with some vegan butter and dairy-free Parmesan. Garnished with a few parsley leaves and a spritz of high-quality balsamic vinegar for a finishing touch, this vegan risotto dish is sure to impress!


I'd like to mention that, if by some chance, you have access to wild morel mushrooms, they are the ideal choice for this dish! I chose Maitakes this time for their earthy, woodsy flavor, but truly, any of your mushroom favorites will do. The balsamic vinegar spritz is a key component to this dish's unique flavor, so be sure to use one that's high-quality. Likewise, garden-fresh asparagus is recommended for the most flavorful taste. We started the asparagus bed in our garden four years ago, and it's literally a labor of love. Growing your own asparagus can take time, but the reward of harvesting your own tasty spears makes it all worthwhile. If growing your own asparagus isn't in the equation, head to your local spring farmers market, and pick up some freshly cut spears!


Ingredients:

  • 3-1/2 cups vegetable stock

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • 1/4 cup vegan butter, cut into tablespoon size pads

  • 10-12 spears of asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces on the bias (diagonally)

  • 4 oz Maitake mushrooms, washed and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces

  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder

  • 1/8 tsp onion powder

  • 1 shallot, minced

  • 1 cup Arborio rice, rinsed with cold water through a fine strainer

  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

  • 1 tsp thyme

  • 1/3 cup vegan Parmesan (I use "Follow Your Heart" brand for its flavor and meltiness)

  • 1 Tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped

  • 2 pinches salt

  • ground black pepper

  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes

  • Aged Balsamic vinegar, preferably bottled with a spritzer


Instructions:

  1. In a small saucepan, bring the vegetable stock to a simmer over medium heat. Cover and reduce heat to very low.

  2. Heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil and 1 Tablespoon vegan butter in a 3-quart pot over medium heat. Add the asparagus, mushrooms, garlic powder and onion powder, and sauté 4-5 minutes until asparagus is just fork tender. Remove from heat, and transfer asparagus and mushrooms to a plate. Cover loosely with foil to keep warm.

  3. In the same pot, heat 2 more Tablespoons of olive oil and another Tablespoon of vegan butter. Add the minced shallot, and cook over medium heat about 1 minute. Stir in the Arborio rice, and cook until it starts to toast in 1 to 2 minutes. Stir constantly, and reduce heat if necessary to prevent sticking.

  4. Pour in the wine, and continue cooking until evaporated, stirring constantly.

  5. Stir in the Thyme, and pour approximately 1/3 cup of the simmering veggie stock over the rice. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until the veggie stock is absorbed.

  6. Repeat with more simmering stock, adding 1/3 cup at a time, while continuing to stir frequently. Each time the stock is absorbed, add another 1/3 cup, and repeat this process until all of your hot veggie stock has been added. Time... patience... stir!

  7. Stir in the asparagus and mushroom mixture, and continue cooking over low heat for another 3 to 4 minutes.

  8. Remove rice from heat and stir in remaining 2 Tablespoons of vegan butter, the vegan Parmesan, and the chopped parsley. Season with salt and pepper.

  9. Garnish each serving with 2 or 3 light spritzes of aged balsamic vinegar.


Serve with a side salad of leafy greens and enjoy!


Notes:

It's ok to raise and lower the heat while adding the veggie stock and cooking the rice. Try to keep it cooking gently and slowly while the rice absorbs the stock. Patience is a virtue, and well worth the tasty results when served!


The best balsamic vinegars are aged more than 18 years. A bottle of the good stuff will last two to three years or longer after opening, and it's well worth the investment!


Although you can use your mushroom of choice in this recipe, I highly recommend choosing one with a woodsy flavor to compliment the asparagus. Morel mushrooms are best (if you can find them). I chose Maitake in this recipe for its earthy-woodsy flavor, and Shiitake is another good choice.


Starting a small asparagus garden takes patience, but it's super rewarding! If you do plant asparagus, the key is to NOT harvest any stalks until at least the 3rd year. This gives the plants time to get established and yield beautiful growth in subsequent years. When you do finally get to harvest some for your dinner table, cut them off straight across, about an inch under the soil; then trim off the lighter colored bottom part of the stalk -- our chickens love those scraps!



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