Dinner tonight was utilizing one of my boyfriend’s favorite vegetables, asparagus. What’s nice about this dinner is that it can be made in about 45 minutes. It took me a bit longer as I also prepped some banana bread.
Some old wine from the fridge, asparagus I wanted to use that was still fresh, frozen shrimp, and arborio rice from my pantry
Staying true to my project, all food was things I had on hand. Risotto is one of those foods that is very forgiving – you can almost always add more liquid and ingredients beyond the 1:3 ratio of rice to liquid.
ASPARAGUS RISOTTO WITH LEMON BROILED SHRIMP
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced fine or minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup arborio rice
3 cups water, broth, and/or wine (I used 1 cup wine and two cups water, plus bouillon packets)
2 lemons, zested and juiced (set aside zest and about 1/4 of juice)
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and chopped in bite sized pieces
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
2 ounces cream cheese
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Shrimp, thawed and trimmed – about 3 ounces per serving
Olive oil, as needed
Melt butter and heat oil over medium to high heat in a large saute pan. Add onions and garlic, sweat until translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Add rice and saute another minute. Stir in liquid and 3/4 of lemon juice and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Lower heat to a simmer and cover pan. Cook the rice until tender, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. If rice mixture feels too thick and difficult to stir, add a bit more liquid, ideally water or broth. Stir in asparagus and cook until it starts to soften but not totally tender (asparagus will continue to cook when rice is removed from heat) – about 3-4 minutes. Stir in cheeses and half the lemon zest and blend until cream cheese is fully incorporated.
Meanwhile, lay the shrimp on a foil-lined baking sheet. Brush the shrimp with olive oil and sprinkle both sides with salt, pepper, and lemon zest. When you’re ready to serve, broil on high about 5 minutes, flipping the shrimp about halfway through cooking. Remove from broiler and pour remaining lemon juice over the shrimp.
To serve, scoop about a cup to a cup and a half of risotto into a bowl, arrange a few shrimp on top.
TIP – Risotto can be leftover and reheated. Ideally, make shrimp when you are ready to eat.
Whole Foods was having a national one-day sale on lobster tails. I have never been the biggest fan of lobster because of the work involved, but I appreciate it. I am also intrigued by what a lean protein it is. Since with the sale the tails were only $4.99 each, I decided to buy some and play around. My first instinct was lobster rolls, but I wanted something a bit more hearty. Instead I played around with what I had in my fridge and pantry already – asparagus, polenta, and this yummy prosecco cheddar. Yes, cheddar made with the tasty bubbly wine. It’s super creamy and melts like butter – no grating required.
My vision for the dish was surprisingly easy to execute. The whole meal maybe took half an hour to prepare, including baking time. I prepared this just for me, but feel free to up the quantities for guests.
Here is what you’ll need:
2 3-4 ounce lobster tails, thawed
5 ounces asparagus (about 10 sprigs), cleaned and trimmed
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon herbs de provence
1/3 cup De La Estancia organic polenta
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup nonfat milk
2 ounces Somerdale prosecco cheddar
white pepper and cayenne pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Line a baking sheet with foil. Mix 1 tablespoon olive oil with the asparagus, sprinkle with salt and pepper – rub the spears with the seasoning to fully incorporate. Line up spears on half of the baking sheet.
Flip the thawed lobster tails over. Using a paring knife, slice down the middle of the cartilage. Crack open the tail and gently remove the meat from the shell, leaving intact. Repeat this process for both tails. Mix the tails with the olive oil, salt, and pepper just as you did with the asparagus, and lay on the other half of the baking sheet.
Bake asparagus and lobster for about 10 minutes. The lobster should be firm and opaque, but not stiff. Asparagus should be slightly browned and tender. It is possible the lobster may be cooked before the asparagus. Simply remove from oven using tongs, and place on a plate until asparagus is cooked through.
Meanwhile, prepare the polenta. I used the De La Estancia brand because it is quick-cooking. In a small non-stick saucepan, simmer the chicken broth and milk over a low flame until very hot, but not boiling (you do not want to scald the milk). Slowly whisk in the polenta and stir frequently. Mixture should start to thicken in about a minute to two minutes. Remove from heat and mix in cheddar until well incorporated. Add white pepper and cayenne pepper to desired flavor/heat.
This dish is best served immediately. To serve – cut the asparagus into 1-2″ pieces, reserving the tops of the spears for garnish. Mix the remainder into the polenta and pour into a shallow bowl. Slice the lobster meat into 1/2 slices and shingle the meat over the polenta – garnish with the spears.