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Leek-Asparagus-Oyster Mushroom Risotto


Tonight I made a seasonal risotto topped with leeks, asparagus, and oyster mushrooms. I love the meatiness of the  mushrooms, the silkiness of the leeks, and the sweet grassiness of the asparagus. Apologies in advance for the lack of measurements. I really, really do not measure when I make this. Here's a link to Jamie Oliver's Basic Risotto. That will get you on the right path with the measurements.  The secret to risotto, as Maria told me, is stirring: usa il cucchiao...sempre. Use your spoon...always; keep stirring.

Maria was the cook for the Nuzzo family who was ordered to teach me all her recipes. Then she was fired and I was tasked with cooking for the family six days a week. Thankfully she didn't blame me for the impossible situation and we stayed close throughout the year that I was there. And sometimes when I cook, I hear her instructions in my head.

Make risotto with whatever you have on hand!  I used leeks from High Ground Organics in Watsonville along with some asparagus and mushrooms from Far West Fungi in Moss Landing.

For the risotto: saute your ingredients - greens, seafood, whatever - in a large flat-bottom pot in a splash of olive oil until cooked through. Stir in the arborio rice - one handful per person you're serving and un'altro per la pentola (an extra for the pot). Maria's voice again.

Add one ladle of simmering broth at a time, stirring, stirring, and stirring some more till the liquid is absorbed. Repeat until the rice is soft. Let stand for 5 minutes. Season with sea salt to taste. Stir in marscarpone cheese. Fold in some fresh chopped herbs to finish the dish; I used thyme. Che squisito!

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