I have made mushroom-asparagus risotto three times this week. While it is still asparagus season, I thought I would put my own personal recipe here for all my blog-reading friends (both vegan and non vegan) to try. All things being relative, most of the measurements are flexible, as is the cooking time. I tend to go into a hypnotic state while stirring risotto, and I completely forget to look at the clock. It is fascinating to watch this mass of separate foods turn into a creamy indulgent-tasting comfort food before my very eyes.
Here is my recipe: it serves four hungry people, and is a hearty main dish meal.
2-3 Tablespoons olive oil, depending on the diameter of the pot you are using
1 minced onion
1 cup minced celery
1 carrot, peeled and cut into tiny dice
2 large minced cloves of garlic
1 large container of cremini mushrooms (also called "baby bella"), cut into slices
1 cup Arborio rice
1 bunch of asparagus, cut into 2-inch pieces, and steamed for 2-3 minutes
1 cup white wine
4 cups warm vegetable stock
3 cups warm water (or more stock, if you like)
1/4 cup (or more) of fresh thyme leaves that have been separated from their stems
Heat the oil in a large, heavy pot, and add the onions, celery, and carrots. Cook for a few minutes over medium heat, and then add the garlic and the sliced mushrooms. Cook for another minute or two, and pour in all the rice. Let the rice absorb whatever liquid happens to be in the pot, and then add the wine. Using the lowest heat possible to maintain a simmer, use a wooden spoon to stir the rice. Make yourself comfortable at the stove, because you will need to stir constantly for about a half an hour.
After the wine is absorbed, add the stock, little bit by little bit, still stirring. You will eventually notice that the starch that is washed off the rice from all the stirring will begin to thicken the stock-wine mixture. Just keep adding more stock and stirring. After about 15 minutes, throw in the asparagus, and keep stirring and adding stock. It is kind of astounding how much stock the rice can absorb. You will know when you have added enough stock because the grains of rice will be tender and the risotto will become difficult to stir. It seems to take about 30 minutes, but I always forget to look at the clock while I am stirring.
Stir in the thyme leaves. Add a bit of salt and pepper to taste, and enjoy with either Parmesan cheese or Gomashio (toasted sesame salt), and the rest of the bottle of white wine.
Variations I: You can use two bunches of asparagus (like I did tonight). Increase the Arborio rice to 1.5 cups, and increase the liquid by a cup.
Variation II: Try substituting sliced leeks for the mushrooms, and canned and drained or frozen artichoke hearts for the asparagus.
Variation III: Small slices of sweet red pepper add a bit of a kick, and they add color to Variation II.
Variation IV: Scallions do too.