Asparagus & Scampi Risotto Recipe

From Tessa Kiros' Venezia: Food & Dreams, this sumptuous risotto dish celebrates the flavours of Italy. This comforting Italian recipe is perfect for fall and winter dinner parties.

12-16 scampi shrimp (red-claw, langoustines or large prawns)
1 large carrot
1/2 onion
1 bay leaf
A few peppercorns
13 oz. asparagus
1/2 onion, finely chopped
4 tbsp olive oil
9 oz. risotto rice
4 fl. oz. (1/2 cup) white wine
1 tbsp cognac
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese


Step 1: To make the brodo, peel and clean the scampi and halve them down the middle. Set the meat aside for now, but rinse the heads and shells and put them in a pot with 1-1/2 litres (6 cups) of water, the carrot, onion, bay leaf, peppercorns and some salt. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes. Strain, and keep the broth hot.

Step 2: Discard the woody ends from the asparagus and cut off the tips. Keep the tips on one side and chop the stems. Sauté the onion in 3 tbsp of the olive oil until well softened. Add the chopped asparagus and sauté briefly.

Step 3: Add the rice, turning it through so it is well coated with oil. Add the white wine and let it bubble up until much of it has evaporated. Add 2 cups of broth, stir well and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until it has almost all been absorbed. Add another 2 cups of broth, stir and cook for another 5-10 minutes. Add another 1/2 cup of broth if you need it for a creamy risotto.

Step 4: When your risotto is almost ready, heat the remaining oil in a small pan, add the scampi and asparagus tips and cook over high heat for 2 minutes, turning the scampi over when they have a pale golden crust underneath. Add the cognac, stand back and flame the pan. Add a bit of salt and toss it all together, then take off the heat.

Step 5: Stir the butter and parmesan into the risotto, then tip the scampi and asparagus tips into the risotto. Add salt if needed, quickly toss it all through and serve at once with black pepper.

Reprinted with permission from Tessa Kiros’ Venezia: Food & Dreams (2009 Whitecap Books).


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