The air in the house is cool and refreshing. I let out a slight sigh. The weather outside is hot, sticky and sunny and thankfully the house remains cool throughout the few heat waves Germany experiences during the year. And while they are so few, I enjoy them to the fullest.
You won’t find me complaining about the scorching sun. After having lived in the Middle East for several years I know what scorching really means. Nor will I moan about it being sticky and humid. Summer is here – finally and this year she took her time to come around.
Instead I kick off my flip flops, pull out my hammock and enjoy the endless long days. Short skirts, picnics by the stream, barbeques and ice cream – it’s time to enjoy this wonderful time of the year and all the pleasures summer brings along with it. I know it’s not going to last.
The patio doors are wide open and the house fills with the sounds of chirping birds, a distant lawn mower, giggles from the girls and cheering from the boys playing out on the street. Somewhere I hear someone practicing the violin and as a bee buzzes by and a pigeon coos, I close my eyes and allow this summer concerto to encase me in it’s musical glory.
Evening and the table is set outside. A light salad made with fresh vegetables, fruit and a crumbling of soft goat cheese starts off the meal. Colorful and light. The glasses are filled with a refreshing, chilled sparkling wine, my lips craving the coolness of the liquid.
A summer tangy and herby risotto follows, accompanied by roasted balsamic asparagus. And as I realize this is probably the last of the delicate vegetable, my heart sinks slightly. Before I know it, summer will be evanescing and taking away all the pleasurable moments with her. So, I enjoy this warm, lulling interval before I am gripped by the cold hands of winter again.
The talk is about our vacation and we chatter enthusiastically about what we want to see, do and experience. We read out loud to each other from travel books and magazine articles and I get excited seeing the stunning pictures of the beautiful landscape.
Our destination is Norway. We’re packing the camper and will be off for a two week road-trip to this breathtaking country. I’ve always wanted to see Norway and to really experience this country up close is to get on the road and feel, live and be a part of Norway.
We have planned an ambitious route but the comfort of traveling with a “home on wheels” is that you can simply modify the route as you go along.
Looking forward to the famous fish market in Bergen, trekking to the Prekestolen, kayaking on the Hardangerfjord, experiencing the majestic Nigardsbreen and enjoying the lifestyle in Oslo. Action pure! You can tell I am excited can’t you?
My camera will accompany me almost everywhere so when I return I shall take you all on a visual tour with me.
In the meantime, I am inviting you to a leisurely, light summer meal of a wonderfully flavored lemon and herb risotto, served with roasted asparagus, which is then drizzled in some aged balsamic vinegar and pumpkin seed oil.
Lemon and Herb Risotto with Balsamic Roasted Asparagus
Printable version of recipe here
For the risotto
1 l stock/broth, use chicken or vegetable, whatever you have in store
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 small carrot, finely cubed
1 small parsnip, finely cubed
400g Risotto rice
250 ml dry white wine - if cooking for kids substitute this with more stock
salt and fresh cracked pepper
70 g butter
120g parmesan – grated
2 lemons, zest and juice
a bunch mixed herbs of choice, finely chopped (I used, thyme, rosemary, mint, chervil and chives)
fleur de sel and freshly ground black pepper
For the roasted asparagus
2 bunches green asparagus, woody ends removed and discarded and cut into thirds
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
pinch of fleur de sell
1 tablespoon pumpkin seed oil
1 tablespoon good aged balsamic vinegar, use on that has been aged for at least a minimum of 10 years
For the risotto
- Bring the stock to a boil. In a separate pot heat 1 tablespoon butter and olive oil together and add the chopped onion, garlic, carrot and parsnip. On a low heat sauté very gently for 15 minutes until the flavors have combined and caramelized. Be careful and do not allow them to take on color. Add the rice and increase the heat.
- Keep stirring the rice while it cooks and takes on a glassy color - approx. 1 minute. At this point add the wine (or stock) and as it bubbles, allow the rice infuse with the wonderful aroma.
- Once this has evaporated and the rice begins to get dry add a ladle full of stock. Stir well and add a touch of salt. Reduce the temperature so that the mixture bubbles gently. Now, keep adding the stock, a ladle at a time, and allow the rice to soak this up, stirring every now and then. When the rice has soaked the liquid add another ladle full. By "massaging" the rice this way you release the creamy starch from the rice giving the dish a fantastic consistency. This whole process takes approx. 15 minutes. The rice grains should be soft but still have a slight crunch to them. Now add a bit of salt and pepper, but be careful as the stock is normally salty enough - so please taste before!
- Take the pot off the heat and add 70g butter, lemon zest, herbs and parmesan cheese. Mix well and cover. Allow the rice to take on all the flavors - 2 minutes. Giving the risotto this time allows it to unfold it's perfect creamy-moist consistency. Check and adjust seasoning.
For the roasted asparagus
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
- In a large bowl toss asparagus with olive oil, garlic and sea salt. Spread the asparagus out onto a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 8-10 minutes or until the asparagus are cooked but still have a good bite to them.
- Remove from heat and drizzle the roasted asparagus with the pumpkin seed oil and a few drops of aged balsamic vinegar.
- Serve the asparagus with the risotto immediately. Grate some fresh parmesan cheese over the top and enjoy with a glass of chilled white wine.
The Food Guide Tips:
- Tips and tricks on how to make a basic risotto
A perfect harmony of summer flavors served in a simple yet refreshing dish. Lemon and herbs complement each other so perfectly and the wonderful flavors of asparagus adds another level boosting this dish to new levels.
So, I wish you a wonderful, warm summer as I take a break from this space and travel to the land of beautiful fjords, gorgeous mountains and sexy studmuffins.
More mouthwatering risotto ideas from WFLH:
|Pumpkin Risotto with Shrimps||Sweet Spiced Risotto with Cherry Compote||Risotto with Rucola & Bresaola|
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