Asparagus with Lemon and Leeks

This is the perfect spring side dish to just about everything from fish to grilled chicken and even steak. We find that giving vegetable side dishes the same amount of TLC that we would an entree makes a complete difference with our dinner experience. Instead of the standard “protein, carb, veg” day after day, recipes like this asparagus brighten things up and make us way more excited to eat our vegetables. This asparagus has just a handful of ingredients but really amps up the flavors of spring compared to a standard roasted asparagus. As the weather gets warmer feel free to cook the asparagus on the grill for an extra smokey flavor; it will contrast nicely with the fresh punch of lemon.

Asparagus with Lemon & Leeks
Makes: 6 servings
Total Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs aparagus, stems cut off
  • 2 tbs olive oil, separated
  • 2 large leek, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Put the asparagus onto a cookie sheet in an even layer. Drizzle with 1 tbs olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the asparagus are crispy but cooked through.
  3. While the asparagus are cooking, heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the other 1 tbs olive oil, the leeks, and the garlic to the pan. Sauce for 4-5 minutes, or until the leeks are starting to brown and caramelize.
  4. Add the white wine and the lemon zest and juice to the pan. Slice the lemon and throw that in the pan as well. Cook for another 3-4 minutes to cook off the wine. Season the mix with salt and pepper.
  5. Remove the asparagus from the oven and toss in the pan with the leeks and lemons. Serve immediately.

Spring Risotto with Carrot & Asparagus Salad

On top of everything else in the world making us feel a little crazy, nothing can ever beat Denver weather. On Saturday we were in shorts and t-shirts getting sunburned and by Sunday morning the ground was covered in snow. During this time of year, we like to have meals that can help us transition with the weather and this Spring Risotto does just that. The warm, cheesy rice makes the dish feel warm and savory while the carrot and asparagus salad adds a much needed cooling crunch to the dish. Hopefully you are in better weather than us, either way we know this dish will satisfy.

Spring Risotto with Carrot & Asparagus Salad 
Makes: 4 servings 
Prep Time: 10 minutes    Cooking Time: 35 minutes      Total Time: 45 minutes 

Ingredients for Risotto: 

  • 2 tbs butter 
  • 1/2 cup white onion, small dice
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 6 cups warm chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup fresh peas (or frozen peas thawed) 
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbs shaved Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste 

Ingredients for Carrot Salad: 

  • 6 stalks asparagus, chalky ends removed 
  • 2 large carrots, peeled 
  • 2 tbs olive oil 
  • juice and zest of 1 lemon  
  • 1 tbs fresh dill, minced 
  • 1 scallion, cut on the bias into thin strips 
  • salt and pepper to taste 

Directions: 

  1. Start by making the carrot salad: use a vegetable peeler to create thick ribbons of asparagus and carrot. Toss them in a medium mixing bowl with the olive oil, lemon juice and zest, and dill. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside. 
  2. To make the risotto, heat a large, deep pan over medium high heat. Add the butter to the pan along with the onion, shallot, and garlic. Saute for 2 minutes or so. Add the rice to the pan and cook another 4-5 minutes, or until the rice begins to caramelize and smelly nutty. Add the wine to the pan and stir with a wooden spoon until it is absorbed. Begin adding the chicken stock, 1 cup at a time, and stirring with a wooden spoon until it is completely absorbed before adding another 1 cup. It will start to look very velvety and expand quite tremendously. 
  3. When you add the final 1 cup of chicken stock, add the 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and peas to the pan. Stir to combine everything and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve in a large bowl with the remaining 2 tbs Parmesan and carrot salad on top.