1 pound thin asparagus, tough ends snapped off and reserved, spears cut on bias into 1/2-inch lengths
2 medium leeks, white and light green parts halved lengthwise, washed, and sliced thin (about 4 cups), 2 cups roughly chopped greens reserved
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 cups water
Ground black pepper
1/2 cup frozen peas
2 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 3/4 cup), plus extra for serving
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley or mint leaves
2 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon
1. Pulse asparagus tough stems and leek greens in food processor until roughly chopped, about 10 one-second pulses. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in large saucepan over medium heat; when foaming subsides, add processed vegetables and pinch of salt. Cover and cook until vegetables release liquid and soften slightly, about 5 minutes. Stir in broth and water; increase heat to high and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain broth through fine-mesh strainer into medium bowl, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Return strained broth to saucepan and discard solids in strainer; cover saucepan and set over low heat to keep broth warm.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in large Dutch oven over medium heat; when foaming subsides, add asparagus spears, pinch of salt, and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until asparagus is crisp tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Add peas and continue to cook for 1 minute. Transfer to plate and set aside.
3. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in now-empty Dutch oven over medium heat; when foaming subsides, add leeks, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are softened, 4 to 6 minutes. Add rice to skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until grains are translucent around edges, about 3 minutes. Add wine and cook, stirring frequently, until fully absorbed, 2 to 3 minutes.
4. When wine is fully absorbed, add 3 cups hot broth to rice. Simmer, stirring every 3 to 4 minutes, until liquid is absorbed and bottom of pan is almost dry, about 12 minutes.
5. Stir in about 1/2 cup hot broth and cook, stirring constantly, until absorbed, about 3 minutes; repeat with additional broth 2 or 3 more times, until rice is al dente. Off heat, stir in remaining 1 tablespoon butter, Parmesan, parsley, and lemon juice; gently fold in asparagus. If desired, add up to 1/4 cup additional hot broth to loosen texture of risotto. Serve immediately, passing grated Parmesan at table.
Yield: 4 servings as main course, 6 servings as first course
Source: Cooks Illustrated