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Asparagus Risotto with Shrimp, Lemon, and Goat Cheese

April 30, 2012

I’ve decided to make more of an effort to cook things from my cookbooks instead of from the internet.

Of course this takes advance planning– not my specialty in the kitchen. And even if I can make it to the grocery store with a specific menu plan intact, it often all falls apart, as I sway between bouts of indecision. Should I try that new recipe after all? But what about that ____ in the fridge? I don’t want it to go bad; maybe I should spontaneously change my plans to cook something that includes that ingredient! Or even more often: ____ are on sale/in season!? Maybe I should buy those instead of what’s on my list and come up with a recipe around that…

That’s when the internet comes in handy: tailored recipes including every possible combination of your farmer’s market finds along with whatever ingredients you might have cluttering up your cabinets or poised to fall out of your freezer.

But there’s something nice about a plan and a cookbook. You can purchase fresh ingredients, your cookbook will undoubtedly tolerate some chaotic mid-cooking sauce spillage better than your laptop would, and just think of the anticipation! (I’ve written before about how I think anticipation is sometimes half the seasoning.)

So yesterday I picked out a Chicken Chorba soup recipe from a new-ish Food & Wine cookbook, and I went shopping for all of the ingredients. Unfortunately, I hadn’t anticipated the Santa Barbara weather– usually cool verging on chilly in the evenings– taking a sudden summery twist. It was WAY TOO HOT for soup yesterday. There went my carefully-laid plans.

And this is why you should always have at least two (if not seven) possible recipes on a waiting list in your head.

I knew just where to turn: I turned to Linda. Linda is the name of a cookbook, specifically “Linda McCartney’s World of Vegetarian Cooking” It was probably the first real cookbook I ever owned, and at least one of my friends in college also owned a copy and treated it with biblical reverence. She kept it on top of her refrigerator and called it Linda. (“Linda recommends making your own curry paste from scratch,” “Linda says to use a heavy-bottomed sauce pan.”)

Goat cheese!

I had attempted many recipes according to Linda, but probably none in the past five years. And I had never made the “Asparagus and Lemon Risotto” until last night. The spring-like flavors were appealing for a warm balmy evening (the standing over the hot stove to stir the rice for 20 minutes was not). I basically stuck to Linda’s recipe other than de-vegetarianizing it by adding shrimp, and livening it up with a little white wine, but I suspect it still would have been pretty awesome without. And the goat cheese! The goat cheese mixed in at the end makes the whole dish extra creamy and decadent.

Thank you, Linda.


Asparagus Risotto with Shrimp, Lemon, and Goat Cheese
(Adapted from the cookbook: Linda McCartney’s World of Vegetarian Cooking.)

(Serves 4-6)

~ 3 Tbsp. olive oil
~ 2 shallots or ¼ onion, finely chopped
~ 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
~ 1¼ cups risotto or arborio rice
~ 3½ – 4 cups vegetable stock or chicken stock, warmed
~ 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and chopped into 2-inch pieces
~ 2-3 sprigs of rosemary, finely chopped
~ grated zest and juice of one lemon
~ ¼ cup (about 3 oz.) goat cheese
~ sea salt and black pepper to taste
~ ¼ cup dry white wine
~ ½ pound of medium shrimp
~ 6 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
~ flat leaf parsley to garnish
~ grated Parmesan or white cheddar to garnish

How to make it:

1. Start warming the vegetable or chicken stock in a small saucepan. (Linda says, “You can add the tough ends of your asparagus spears to your vegetable stock. This will give the risotto more flavor.”)

2. In a large saucepan, heat the oil and cook the shallots/onions over medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook for another minute.

3. Add the rice and stir well to coat it with oil. Optionally add the white wine and stir until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid. Then add two ladles of the warmed stock and once again stir until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid. Continue adding the stock gradually for 10 more minutes, over medium/low heat, stirring constantly.


4. For the second 10 minutes of rice-cooking time: Add the asparagus, rosemary, sage, and lemon zest. If the shrimp is uncooked, add the shrimp at this point, too. (If the shrimp is already cooked, wait and add it in the last 5 minutes.) Do not allow the rice to become too dry– add more stock if necessary.

5. When the rice is cooked (taste-test to check), remove from the heat or transfer to a serving bowl, then mix in the goat cheese and lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste.

6. Serve warm, optionally sprinkled with parsley or grated cheese. Goes nicely with white wine.

Print this recipe!

9 Comments leave one →
  1. April 30, 2012 9:14 am

    I am happy in my belly just having read this. Must. Go. Buy. Asparagus. And risotto, I guess. Thanks!

    • April 30, 2012 12:25 pm

      : ) I hope you like it! You really can’t go wrong with goat cheese.

  2. April 30, 2012 10:19 am

    Oh yummy! Now that looks delicious!

    • April 30, 2012 12:27 pm

      Thanks! It was delicious, though decadent. Maybe next time I’ll come up with a light side salad to balance things out.

  3. April 30, 2012 12:12 pm

    What a pretty dish. It sounds great.

  4. May 1, 2012 2:12 am

    Great combination! Looks delicious.


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