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Cathy Katin-Grazzini

Cathy's Kitchen Prescription LLC



Asparagus Risotto

Asparagus purée and peas pair nicely in this springtime risotto. It is fragrant with shallots and leek, thyme, and lemon. We crown the dish with asparagus, pear tomatoes, and snow peas cooked en papillote (parchment packets) to flavor them in their own delectable juices.


I save rice dishes for special occasions, substituting rice for other wonderful whole grains, like buckwheat, corn, amaranth, teff, whole wheat, barley, rye, and fonio. Eating a wide variety of whole grains is both kinder to the planet and promotes a more diverse, resilient gut microbiome.  To reduce any possible exposure to arsenic in rice, rinse the grains well and cook rice like pasta, that is,

in an ample amount of water that is discarded once the grains are cooked.


Prep 50 minutes                    

Cook 30 minutes                   

Serves 3 to 5


For Vegetables en Papillote

1 pound asparagus, tender upper segment of the spears (reserve woodier ends for risotto, see below)

Zest from 1 organic lemon

Grinds of black pepper

Sprigs of fresh dill

1 pound yellow pear tomatoes

Sprinkle of dried herbes de Provence

8 ounces pearl onions, peeled

½ pound snow peas

Sprinkle of dried mint, or spearmint or peppermint tea leaves


For the Risotto

Lower segment of asparagus spears,1/2 inch cut off from bottoms

1 1/3 cups short-grain brown rice, rinsed

4 medium shallots, cut in 1/8-inch slices

1 teaspoon dry thyme leaves

Dry vermouth or no-sodium vegetable broth to deglaze pan

2 leeks, well cleaned, cut in 1/8-inch slices, reserving a few interior leaves for garnish

5 to 6 cups no-sodium vegetable broth

1½ cups fresh or frozen peas

Juice from ½ organic lemon

1/3 cup nutritional yeast

Grinds of white pepper

2 ½ tablespoons shiro (mild, white) miso paste, or to taste, dissolved in broth

Garnish with slivers of tender interior leek leaves and a Parmigiano Perfetto (see page   ).


Vegetables en Papillote

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  • Bend each asparagus spear towards the break it. Reserve the lower, woodier ends for a purée (see below).
  • Fold a large piece of parchment paper in half, and on one side lay the upper sections of the spears. Season them with lemon zest, dill, and pepper.
  • To make a parchment bag or papillote: Fold the paper over to cover the asparagus to meet the lower side. Roll or fold each of the three open sides up, creating a neat smaller bag. Staple these sides every 3 inches or so to seal the bag.
  • Tear off another piece of parchment, fold it in half, place the tomatoes on one half of the folded paper, and sprinkle them with herbes de Provence. Seal the parchment bag as above.
  • Create a bag for the pearl onions alone, and a final small bag for the snow peas, sprinkling them first with mint. 
  • Place the four packages on a large baking sheet. Bake the snow peas for 5 minutes; the asparagus and tomatoes for about 15 minutes; the onions for about 25 minutes.
  • Reduce the oven temperature or preheat a warming drawer to 150°F. Insert your serving dishes to warm.
  • Use a staple remover to open the bags and test for doneness. The snow peas should be slightly crisp, the asparagus crisp-tender, the tomatoes plump and juicy, and the pearl onions tender and slightly caramelized.  If you need to cook any of the vegetables longer, just re-staple and return to the oven for 5 more minutes.
  • Place the bags on a cooling rack. Use scissors to snip open a corner to vent the hot air and moisture, and to halt cooking.
  • Transfer the bags to the warming drawer or low oven to stay warm until serving.



  • Cut the bottom ½ inch off each reserved lower segment of the asparagus.  Bring a pot of water to a boil and blanch them until very tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove them with a skimmer, strainer, tongs to remove the asparagus stalks. Reserve the cooking water.  Allow them to cool.
  • Place them in a high-speed blender and purée the stalks into a smooth sauce, adding a minimal amount of water to facilitate blending.
  • Reheat the water. When it returns to a boil, add the rice. Par cook the rice until halfway cooked only, in 10 to 15 minutes. Drain the rice, discarding the water.
  • Using the pot again, heat the vegetable broth to a boil. Lower the heat, cover the pot, and maintain at a very gentle simmer.
  • Heat a large sauté pan on medium-low for 3 minutes. Add the shallots and thyme, reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and sweat the shallots for a few minutes to allow their juices to release without caramelizing.
  • Stir in the leeks, cover, and cook 5 minutes to allow them to soften.
  • Remove the cover, raise the flame slightly, and stir in the asparagus purée. After a minute stir in the par cooked rice and add a ladleful of hot broth. Cover and cook the rice until slightly al dente, about 15 minutes.
  • Stir in more broth as the rice absorbs it. The consistency of risotto should be neither soupy nor dry but moist and flavorful with sauce.
  • When the rice is nearly done, add the raw peas, if using, and nutritional yeast.  If using frozen peas instead, when the rice is cooked to your satisfaction, stir them in.
  • Season with lemon juice and grinds of white pepper.
  • Turn off the heat and stir in the diluted miso. Taste to adjust any seasonings.
  • Plate on warmed plates, adding a ladleful of risotto with the vegetables en papillote either on top or alongside. Garnish if you like with slivers of tender leek and a sprinkle of Parmigiano Perfetto.




Asparagus Risotto

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