Asparagus and Pea Risotto with Mascarpone, Lemon and Parsley

540 calories per serving


serves: 4
16 firm green asparagus spears
600 ml (1 pint) vegetable stock
100 g (4 oz) unsalted butter
2 shallots
250 g (9 oz) Arborio rice
90 ml (3 fl oz) champagne or dry white wine
1 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp mascarpone cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
100 g (4 oz) peas (cooked)
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp flat leaf parsley


1. Peel the asparagus spears, reserving the peelings and cut the asparagus into thin slices on the diagonal. Poach it in slighlty boiling water to cover. When it is just tender, remove from the pan with a slotted spoon, refresh in iced water and drain well, then set aside. Add the asparagus peelings to the water and simmer for a further 10 minutes to obtain a stronger asparagus stock. Strain through a fine sieve:you should have about 100ml(3 1/2-4fl oz) Pour this in a pan with the vegetable stock, bring to the boil, then keep it at a simmer while you make the risotto.

2. Melt half of the butter in a heavy based pan, add the shallots and cook gently for a few minutes until they are tender. Add the rice and stir well to coat it with the butter.

3. Over a moderate heat, add the champagne or dry white wine and a little of the stock and stir until the liquid is absorbed. Keep adding the stock a ladleful at a time, stirring constantly until the rice is tender but still retains a little bite.

4. Towards the end of the cooking add the liquid in smaller quantities and check whether the rice is done. It should take about 25 minutes in all and the consistancy of the finished risotto should be fairly loose without being sloppy. If you use up all the stock before the rice is sufficiently cooked, add boiling water half a ladleful at a time, as necessary.

5. When the rice is cooked, fork in the Parmesan and the mascarpone and season to taste. Melt the remaining butter in a saucepan, briefly toss the asparagus and the peas in to heat through and season.

6. Stir the vegetables into the risotto, then divide between four servings plates and sprinkle with the lemon zest and parlsey. Serve immediately.

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