Asparagus, Leek and Lemon Risotto
Few people know that a slow cooker can be used to make risotto without having to stand at the stove and constantly stir the rice, which makes this vegetarian dish a great option even on a busy weeknight. If your slow cooker doesn’t have a flameproof insert, cook the leeks, toast the rice and simmer the wine in a sauté pan, then transfer the ingredients to a slow cooker. Medium-thick asparagus spears are the best choice here; avoid pencil-thin or extra-thick stalks.
- 4 Tbs. (2 oz./60 g) unsalted butter
- 2 leeks, white and light green portions, quartered lengthwise and sliced
- Kosher salt
- 1 Tbs. olive oil
- 2 cups (14 oz./440 g) Arborio or Carnaroli rice
- 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) dry white wine
- Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon, preferably Meyer
- 6 cups (48 fl. oz./1.5 l) vegetable broth, heated, plus more if needed
- 1 lb. (500 g) asparagus, ends trimmed and spears cut on the diagonal into 1-inch (2.5-cm) pieces
- 1/2 cup (2 oz./60 g) grated Parmesan cheese
Put a flameproof slow-cooker insert on the stove top over medium heat, then add 2 Tbs. of the butter and warm until melted. Add the leeks and a big pinch of salt and cook, stirring, until softened, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
Return the insert to medium heat, add the remaining 2 Tbs. butter and the olive oil, and warm until hot. Add the rice and cook, stirring, until toasted and golden, about 4 minutes. Add the wine and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the wine is completely absorbed, about 1 minute. Return the leeks to the insert.
Transfer the insert to the slow cooker. Add the lemon zest and juice, the broth and 1 tsp. salt and stir to mix well. Cover and cook on high for 30 minutes.
Uncover and stir in the asparagus. Re-cover and continue to cook on high for 30 minutes longer. The rice should be tender but still slightly firm to the bite at the center of each grain and the mixture should be creamy.
Uncover and stir in the Parmesan, then taste and adjust the seasoning with salt. If the risotto is too thick, thin with hot broth to the desired consistency. To serve, spoon into warmed shallow bowls and serve immediately. Serves 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Quick Slow Cooking, by Kim Laidlaw (Weldon Owen, 2014)