asparagus shrimp risotto

Asparagus and shrimp seem to be natural partners for Italian carb recipes, either pasta or risotto. In our early and nutritiously risky youth, we took serious shortcuts to achieve this pairing quickly—by dumping condensed cream of asparagus and cream of shrimp soup together to make a fast creamy sauce. This was first executed with orecchiette as quick pastasparagus in Part One,  and suggested as a risotto sauce in our basic Part One risotto recipe (see the option section). Unfortunately condensed soups are salt disasters and although dr bob grew up as a Campbell's soup junkie, he managed to kick the habit somewhere along the way to maturity.

Asparagus is a terrific veggie that we have incorporated into pasta and risotto in various ways over the years [1, 2], but finally we went for a reformed version of our youthful indiscretion with shrimp, throwing in a saffron variation traditionally labeled as risotto Milanese. Shrimp can be quite pricey, and in view of the recent global financial collapse of 2008, it pays to look for ways to lower the cost of that ingredient. Ani noticed frozen deveined tail-free shrimp on sale for a steal at a local supermarket, 2 whole pounds worth with a ziplock resealable top, so we were ready not only for the risotto, but for a subsequent veggie stir fry, leaving still one more hit for supper protein left in the freezer. The frozen little shrimps looked pretty colorless thawing out in the cold water, and a faint worry crossed out minds about the short cut we were taking here, but somehow magically the pink color came back when cooked in the risotto. Fresh asparagus seems to fluctuate in price, but irregularly throughout the whole year it seems that you don't have to wait too long for its price to seem reasonable. The fresh stuff only, or maybe frozen stuff, but avoid the cans and bottles, it's chock full of salt. We try to cook most stuff from scratch (original ingredients), except for occasional treats from Trader Joe's.

By incorporating the shrimp into the risotto, one does not need to worry about an additional protein dish. You can just eat large portions with a healthy salad and feel good about it. At least that's what we do. Whether justified or not.

ingredients

soffritto e riso
1 c arborio rice
1 onion, chopped
2 T olive oil
1/2 c dry white wine
brodo e add-ins
2 - 3 c veggie broth
2/3 - 1 lb fresh asparagus, tough ends broken off and cut into 1/2 in pieces
1 lb fresh or frozen but recipe ready shrimp
1 12.5mg packet saffron
finishers
2 T butter
1/2 c parmigiano
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste (but watch the salt!)

instructions

  1. All these risottos are pretty standard. This remark is pretty standard. But maybe this is your first time, so...
  2. Start a teapot of water boiling for the concentrated veggie broth you keep in your cupboard (buy some low salt stuff if it is not already there). Prepare the onion and asparagus. Get your saffron out. Put your frozen shrimp in a bowl of cold water for it to thaw out.
  3. Sauté the onion in olive oil until softened, then stir in the rice so it is coated with the onion and oil and cook for a minute or two, then dump in the white wine and evaporate it off a bit.
  4. Dump in a cup of the boiling water with your veggie concentrate (for 2-3 c broth) and get simmering. Add in the asparagus and continue adding 1/2 c boiling water at a time as the water is absorbed.
  5. After about 12-15 minutes of the water phase, dump in the shrimp so they can cook the last 5 minutes or so, and stir in the saffron while the risotto is still watery—it's easier for it to spread evenly throughout the mixture in this state.
  6. The rice should be done in 18-20 minutes. Taste a kernel to be sure. Make sure it is not too "dry" (add a bit of water if necessary).
  7. Then remove from heat and incorporate the finishers, stirring them in well.
  8. Serve immediately, since the longer you wait, the stiffer the risotto will get. We like ours nice and creamy.

notes

  1. Too bad about the limited spread of Trader Joe's throughout the land. So many Americans have no clue what we are talking about when we constantly refer to this "what's not to love" chain store specialty food source. Even in recipes where we didn't actually use anything from this place. Like the present recipe.
  2. 2012 update.
    This is one of our favorite risottos, so we decided to give it the whole grain upgrade suggested by a NYTimes blogger. See our extended discussion in our best of risotto collection.
  3. Illustrations available.
sapshrmprsto.htm: 2-nov-2012 [what, ME cook? © 1984 dr bob enterprises]