Spinach and asparagus risotto

Note: This post has a lot of unrelated photos. Risotto recipe is after the jump!

Our first CSA delivery arrived on Thursday, and it was packed with greens! We got kale, spinach, kamatsuna, bok choi and two kinds of lettuce. It’s exciting to know all those nutritious veggies went into our bellies this week, but it was also intimidating to think about how to make the week’s menu vary.

The key to making this work was cleaning and chopping everything so it was ready to go throughout the week. I filled the sink with water when I came home with the delivery, and I let everything hang out until the dirt (and bugs!) fell to the bottom. Then I laid out the greens on towels to dry, and I started chopping and cutting them as I imagined I would need them later on. The lettuce went in a big bowl with a little bit of water on the bottom (the greens drink it like flowers do), and everything else went in containers.

I also chopped up some garlic and put it in a jar with olive oil so that I have that much less to do when I’m ready to cook. Getting a lot of that grunt work out of the way is a good idea; it will make cooking that much more enjoyable!

Here’s how we did it: The lettuce went into lunchtime and pre-dinner salads, and even under a bed of fried eggs for breakfast. The flavor of the dense, creamy yolks balance perfectly with the crunch and moisture of the lettuce.

I sauteed the kale lightly and ate it as a side to some leftover beans. I made an Asian stir fry with the kamatsuna and bok choi that went over some homemade pasta (!) that B helped me make. We ran it through the pasta maker and then froze it so that it was easy to pull out for weeknight dinners.

I learned the hard way that you want to let the pasta dry slightly before putting it in freezer bags. Otherwise, it softens and starts to stick. The best way to freeze it is to lay the pasta out on a cookie sheet and let it freeze for two hours before putting it in bags.

B was also instrumental in making delicious strawberry yogurt popsicles. They have lemon and mint in them, and they are a delicious treat we’ve been enjoying after dinner each night.

The idea for the popsicles came from the fact that our farmer’s market berries were smashed during the bike ride back home. (We also broke some eggs, which went into the pasta when we got back.) Oops!

And the spinach went into a risotto with asparagus, which is the focus of this post. Apparently the Italian way to make asparagus risotto is to blanch and blend all but the tips of the asparagus (after they are trimmed) and mix that into the risotto. I did the same with the spinach I had on hand, leading to a bright green sauce that ended up coloring the risotto beautifully. Recipe follows.

To make the risotto, I lightly sauteed a small chopped onion and 4 chopped cloves of garlic. I added 1 cup of arborio rice, two sprigs of rosemary and a handful of thyme. Once I could smell the herbs, I poured in the green spinach and asparagus sauce. I stirred the pot over medium heat until the liquid dried up, then proceeded to add 4 cups of chicken broth, half a cup at a time to cook the risotto. You want to introduce the liquid a little bit at a time to allow the rice to soak it all in and become creamy. You know it’s done with the rice is fully cooked (i.e. soft to the bite), about 20 to 25 minutes.

Finally, I added 1/2 cup of freshly grated pecorino, 1 cup of sliced and sauteed mushrooms and 1/4 cup of slow-roasted tomatoes. It’s okay to substitute sundried tomatoes, but do put one kind in to brighten up this very green dish. Check the salt to see if you need to add any more than what was already in the broth. Top with parsley and pepper before serving.

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