Well Fed, Flat Broke: Asparagus Risotto
Friday night at my place is a barometer for how the rest of the weekend will go. If the transition from badass lady professional in pantyhose and makeup to sloth-person in yoga pants with just a whiff of unshowered je ne sais quoi goes smoothly, then the weekend will be pleasant. If the transition is delayed or bumpy, then no one may ask mom any questions he could answer himself unless he is prepared to defend his honour.
Mom is temperamental.
But risotto eases the transition. The main benefit to this creamy rice dish is that preparing it is almost meditative, in that it requires focus and attention. It is also repetitive.
It doesnâ€™t take long enough to be a hassle â€“ 30 minutes, start to finish, or about the time it takes to play through an episode of Curious George on Netflix â€“ and it smells good and itâ€™s carby and cheesy and rich, but itâ€™s also cheap and adaptable. It requires you to open a bottle of wine. Meditation plus wine equals the kind of mom who is zen enough for you to query with even the stupidest questions. (â€œWhereâ€™s the milk?â€)
It is also kid-friendly, as itâ€™s texturally straightforward, grain-based, and not conducive to a lot of loud chewing noises. When you make risotto, you make a better evening for yourself and those around you.
Gluten-free, vegetarian, kid-friendly.
I generally make mine with half arborio rice and half pearl barley, which reduces the cost of the dish and also adds additional fibre; it also makes the dish a little more forgiving, as rice can turn to mush if overcooked but barley will hold its own for a good while longer. Adding barley may make the dish not gluten-free.
Donâ€™t bother with expensive wine; this is a good place for something youâ€™d drink happily but that you might not serve to fancy company. Go with your best judgment.
Seasoning is approximate and depends entirely on how salty your stock and your cheese are. Taste as you go.
Delicious topped with a poached egg, if youâ€™re into that sort of thing.