What You'll Need
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 1 bunch asparagus
- 1 large leek, well washed and thinly sliced
- ½ cup basil
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ package Culcherd Herb & Garlic Cheese
- 2 tbsp Culcherd Original Butter
- 2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
- 1 lemon, zest and juice to taste
- ½ tsp Himalayan pink salt
- ¼ black pepper
- Prep the asparagus by cutting off the fibrous ends (you can tell where this should be by breaking a spear of asparagus in half – trim asparagus where the natural breaking point is). Then slice the spears into 1 ½ inch pieces. Separate the tips from the middle pieces, and set aside.
- Bring a small pot of water to boil and blanch the middle asparagus pieces until tender. About 5 minutes or so. Drain and reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
- In a high speed blender, blend blanched asparagus with basil, EVOO, a pinch of salt, and half of the asparagus cooking liquid.
- Process until smooth and creamy, adding additional cooking liquid 1 tbsp at a time as needed for blending. Taste and adjust seasoning. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- Heat 2 tbsp of Culcherd butter over medium heat in a medium sized skillet or pot. Add leeks and saute for 5-6 minutes until softened. Add garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
- Add arborio rice to the mixture, and stir to coat. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Deglaze pan with 1 cup hot veggie stock (have veggie stock warming and ready to go in a pot on the stove). Stir and scrape up any browned bits. Bring to a gentle simmer and stir occasionally, letting the rice absorb all of the broth.
- Continue adding 1 cup of broth at a time, letting the rice absorb it slowly. Continuing to stir each time. When the last cup of broth is added, stir in the reserved asparagus tips, Culcherd cheese, and the blended asparagus mixture.
- Continue to cook for about 5 minutes until everything is incorporated and the risotto is creamy and slightly al dente. Add a squeeze of lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper.
- Garnish with toasted pine nuts, lemon zest and a drizzle of olive oil.