The Secret to Making Asparagus Risotto Whole GrainAlthough you will often hear that you cannot possibly make a good risotto if you don’t use short grain Arboria rice (a refined white rice), that’s just not the case. Arboria rice is used because it readily gives off starch as it is cooked and stirred, which then creates the much-sought- after indulgent creamy base from the stock. However, you can absolutely substitute short grain brown rice for the Arboria rice. The key is that it must be short grain brown rice. Long grain rice just doesn’t work. If you want even better results, I suggest using sprouted short grain brown rice, such as Lundberg brand (see photo above.) Not only will sprouted brown rice cook quicker and taste better, it’s healthier too! Anytime a whole grain is sprouted it becomes easier to digest and the nutritional value and antioxidant content of the grain is enhanced. Although you could easily make the asparagus risotto recipe entirely from the sprouted short grain brown rice, I like to add in a bit of quinoa too. Technically the name risotto means “little rice” in Italian and so the addition of quinoa is definitely not a conventional ingredient in mainstream risotto recipes. I like to add it anyway because it blends right in with rice. And just like with the rice, I like to use sprouted quinoa too (although regular quinoa will also work.) By the way, I have another recipe for a brown rice and quinoa risotto HERE.
The Secret to Making Asparagus Risotto Dairy FreeBelieve it or not, “Asparagus Cream” is what gives the asparagus risotto its decadent, richness without butter or cream. I realize the sound of “asparagus cream” might not sound all that good, but you will truly be amazed at how flavorful and downright delicious it actually is! The “Asparagus Cream” is made by cooking fresh asparagus and garlic slices with vegetable broth and then pureeing everything with raw cashews in a high speed blender (my favorite is Vitamix). You end up with a rich “cream” that is both complex and subtle in flavor all at once. It’s quite amazing really! Note: The Asparagus Risotto recipe serves 8 as a side dish or 4 as an entree. If serving it as an entree, I like to add an additional side of steamed asparagus along with a soft boiled egg on top of the risotto.
Asparagus Risotto Recipe with Brown Rice and Quinoa
- Yield: 8 1x
- 1 pound asparagus (stems and tips separated, stems cut in thirds)
- 6 cloves sliced garlic (divided in half)
- 4 1/2 cups organic vegetable broth (either homemade or Pacific Naturals brand, divided)
- 1/3 cup raw cashews
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1/4 pound fresh shitake mushrooms (about 10, trimmed, wiped clean, and thinly sliced)
- Unrefined sea salt (to taste)
- White pepper (to taste)
- 1 cup short grain brown rice (note: I like to use sprouted short grain brown rice, such as Lundberg brand)
- 1/2 cup quinoa ((note: I like to use sprouted quinoa, such as TruRoots brand))
- 1/2 cup white wine
- Put asparagus stems and half of the sliced garlic in a large skillet with 1 cup of the vegetable broth. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook about 5-minutes, or until the asparagus is bright green and somewhat tender. Remove the skillet from the heat and set asparagus and liquid aside to cool for a few minutes.
- Transfer the cooled asparagus and cooking liquid to a high speed blender (I like Vitamix). Add the cashews. Process on high until mixture is smooth, creamy and lump free. Set “asparagus-cream” aside.
- Heat the same skillet over medium-low heat and add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the onion, remaining cloves of sliced garlic and mushrooms. Sauté until onion is golden, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and white pepper to taste.
- Add the rice and quinoa to the skillet with the onions and mushrooms; sauté about 1 minute. Add the wine and simmer until it has been completely absorbed, stirring constantly and slowly.
- Add the remaining 3 1/2 cups of vegetable broth, 1/2 cup at a time, to the skillet until all of the stock has been absorbed by the grains, continually stirring. Season with salt and white pepper.
- When you have added all the broth and the rice and quinoa are still slightly firm but tender, add the reserved “asparagus cream” and uncooked asparagus tips. Stir well, cover and cook for about 3 minutes. Season once more with salt and white pepper to taste. Serve warm.