Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Shrimp and Asparagus Risotto

I got this recipe card from Olive Garden a couple of years ago, and haven't tried it until now. First of all, the term "risotto" frightened me, plus there is some slightly odd ingredients. But trust me, it's worth the effort!

18 large shrimp, shelled and deveined
8 cups chicken broth
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 Parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/2 lb fresh asparagus spears, cut into 1" pieces
1 cup tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup yellow onion, minced
2 cups Carnaroli  or Arborio rice
Fresh Parsley, chopped (for garnish)

1) Simmer chicken broth on low heat until needed.

2) Heat oil over medium heat.  Add onions and cook for about 3 minutes, or until translucent.  Stir in rice and cook for 1 minute, then add white wine.  Add 1/2 cup of broth and stir until completely absorbed. Repeat until 4 cups of broth have been added.  Stir the risotto frequently to prevent sticking. 

3) Add asparagus and shrimp to the remaining broth and cook for 2 minutes, or until the shrimp are pink.  Remove asparagus and shrimp from the broth and add them to the risotto mixture.  Add 1/2 cup of both at a time until desired creaminess is reached.  (There may be broth left over)

4) Once the broth is completely absorbed, add butter, Parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped tomatoes and parsley. 

    I started out using already cooked shrimp, so all I had to do was thaw and de-tail them. Because of this, I just added them to the risotto at the same time as the asparagus, but didn't boil them. (I did still boil the asparagus). And 18 didn't really look like very much, so I added a pound, which was about 35ish medium sized shrimp. (More shrimp or bacon is ALWAYS the best option. :P)  I didn't have any white white on hand, so I substituted that for 1/2 cup of chicken broth. I kept adding the chicken broth in 1/2 cup increments and used a total of 5.5 cups. I wasn't sure if the risotto was going to be mushy, but it seemed to have stopped taking the liquid as well, so I stopped adding broth at that point. And I should warn you - putting 1/2 cup of butter in at the end looks like a LOT of butter! I almost decreased it, but figured I should follow the recipe to the T the first time, and it actually turned out well. It wasn't greasy, which I was concerned about. Very creamy and yummy! I didn't add tomatoes or the parsley.  I had all my ingredients ready to go, and once I started the actual cooking process, I think it took about 35 minutes. Definitely stir the risotto frequently the whole time it's cooking, and make sure you leave it on medium heat. All in all, definitely a keeper, and less work then I expected!

We served this to some friends of ours who came over for dinner, and it was the best day! I think the art of having people over for dinner is disappearing in our culture, and that saddens me. There is just something about having someone over for dinner, not for any other ulterior motive then to enjoy their company over a meal. I remember growing up, my Mom was ALWAYS having people over for dinner. It didn't seem like a holiday unless there were other people there, and Sundays after church there was usually some stray soul at the table. In a culture where texting and Facebook are means of acceptable communication, I think it's becoming intimidating to have people come over and invade your personal space. Sometimes we get so busy between work and commitments that we forget to let people in, just for the purpose of sharing life together, creating a community. So here is my challenge for you this week - find a way to make someone a part of your life, however that looks for you. It may be a phone call for a catch up chat, or inviting someone for lunch of dinner, or setting up a Skype date. It may just make your day.

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