As some of you^ may know, Fall is upon us. Fall happens to be my favourite season of the year, for several reasons: trees that begin turning hues of bright orange, yellow and red; weather that begins to cool down*; days that begin to shorten**; and, since my birthday is close to Christmas, the beginning of Fall means I’m closer to finally getting some presents! :-) Fall also means that I get to break out my stylish winter garb without risking a quick death from heat stroke, as would likely happen if you tried to pair cashmere and Ugg boots in the nearly year-round tropical climate that is Houston. Although some of you may argue ;-), I personally believe I look far better in jeans, cashmere sweaters, and 4″ black leather boots than I do in Daisy Dukes, sleeveless tops and flip flops. A “summer body”, God did not give me.
Fall is the time of year that, most importantly, marks the beginning of the winter food season and all of its deliciousness. Chilis, soups, stews, braised meats, paellas, and my personal favourite, risottos, are the hearty, “stick to your ribs” kinds of foods that make -30C weather bearable. That, and wearing seventy-two layers of Patagonia. Anyway. The overnight lows in Toronto last week hit 4C/37F, so I happily spent two hours making my first risotto of the season! It turned out fabulously, if I do say so myself’ and, as a matter of fact, my description of it on Facebook was apparently so appealing that it garnered scores of requests*** from far and wide to post it. Since my motto is “ask and you shall receive”, you can now enjoy the recipe**** for Shrimp, Asparagus and Dill Risotto!
Shrimp, Asparagus and Dill Risotto
1 lb. asparagus
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup water
Salt and pepper
1 L chicken stock (I used the low-sodium boxed kind)
3 tbsp butter
1 small onion, minced
1 shallot, minced (optional)
1 cup risotto
1/2 cup dry white wine
Zest of one lemon
1/3 cup grated Parmesean cheese (I prefer to use real Parmesean cheese rather than Kraft shredded…it makes a big difference, but can be expensive)
1 lb large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tbsp fresh dill, minced
1. Use a sauté pan other than the one you’ll use to cook the risotto. Cut off the asparagus tops and reserve. Snap off the woody ends from asparagus and discard. Cut the remaining stems into 1-inch pieces. Heat the oil and butter in a sauté pan. Add the stem pieces and cook five minutes. Add the garlic and the asparagus tips. Pour the water over the asparagus, season with salt and pepper (I also used Tony Cachere’s), and cook until tender, 5 to 15 minutes, depending on the asparagus. (If you like, you can add a sprig of rosemary to the dish with the garlic and tips, then remove it at the end).
1. Bring the stock to a simmer and set aside. Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter in a saucepan and cook the onion and shallot until soft, stirring with a wooden spoon. Add the rice and stir until translucent, about four minutes. Stir in the wine and reduce until almost dry. Add a ladle of stock and cook, stirring, until it disappears. Continue, one ladle at a time, until the rice is tender and creamy, about half an hour.
2. Stir the shrimp and asparagus into risotto, add the remaining tablespoon of butter, lemon zest, and cheese; cover and reduce heat to low; simmer, stirring once, for approximately ten minutes. Stir in dill.
Spoon into bowls, serve, and enjoy!
^ By which I mean not my Texas readers
* In a normal year; Toronto had a cooler-than-normal summer, so we’ve basically had winter for the last 18 months ;-)
** Which I love because I am a complete night owl, so the longer it is darker, the happier I am
*** By which I mean four
**** I actually blended two recipes together to make this dish, because I like to pretend I’m crafty that way