But even though asparagus is cropping up at our local markets, fresh peas are still far on the horizon. That's why tonight's menu is a compromise of fresh asaparagus with frozen peas. Because even though we can't have peas just yet, the asparagus will carry us through -- and even frozen peas taste wonderful when they're cooked with enough Parmesan cheese.
Take advantage of our handy grocery list and game plan, or click the recipe photos or titles to see (and save and print) the full recipes.
4 cups of vegetable stock 1 cup Arborio rice One 14-ounce bag frozen peas (or about 3 cups of fresh peas) 1 pound aspagarus 1 small shallot 1 dried red chile 1 lemon 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
We assume you have butter, half an onion, olive oil, and salt on hand. If not, add those to the list, too.
1. In a soup pot or dutch oven, melt 4 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Chop two tablespoons of onion, add it to the pan, and sauté until it’s lightly golden. In a separate pot, heat the stock until it reaches a simmer.
2. Once the onion is ready, add 3 cups of the stock, the rice, the bag of frozen peas, and a good pinch of salt. Cover your pot and cook at a low boil for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. After 10 minutes or so, trim the asparagus. Then, thinly slice the shallot, combine it with a large pinch of salt, rub everything together with your fingers, and set aside.
4. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add a couple generous glugs of olive oil and then the asparagus spears. Season with salt and sauté until just cooked but still crisp-tender, 3 to 5 minutes.
5. Arrange the asparagus on a platter. Crush the dried chile into tiny bits, then mix it with the shallot and sprinkle the mixture across the asparagus. Top with flaky sea salt and serve with the lemon wedges.
6. Check the rice -- it's ready when it's just tender. If the soup is too thick (it should not be like porridge), thin it with the remaining stock. Before serving, add the grated Parmesan and taste for salt. Eat alongside the asparagus and enjoy spring on a plate.
Photos by James Ransom and Sarah Shatz
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