Beautifully balanced between creaminess and 'al dente' bite, even the simplest risotto is luxurious. But we've really gone to town with this one! It's bursting with plump king prawns and tender asparagus spears. Fragrant, nutty dukkah provides the finishing touch. Don't neglect what the Italians call 'tostatura': cooking the rice in oil before adding stock. It takes only a minute but makes all the difference. Enjoy!
Vegetable Stock Pot
White Wine Vinegar
Super Dukkah Mix
Hard Cheese (Italian Style)
Netherend Butter Salted
Halve, peel and chop the shallot into ½cm pieces. Remove the root and dark green tops from the leek, cut in half lengthways and thinly slice into half moons. Peel and grate the garlic (or use a garlic press). Chop the bottom 2cm off the asparagus spears and discard. Cut the spears in half widthways. Pick the basil leaves from their stalks and finely chop the stalks. Cut half of the prawns in half widthways.
Boil the water (amount specified in the ingredient list) in a large saucepan over high heat. Add the vegetable stock pot, stir to dissolve and reduce the heat to low. Put a glug of oil in another large saucepan on medium heat. Add the shallot and leek with a pinch of salt and a grind of black pepper and cook until soft, 5-6 mins. Stir in the garlic and basil stalks and cook for 1 minute more.
Pour in the arborio rice and stir to coat in the oil. Cook for 1 minute. Add the white wine vinegar and allow it to evaporate. Then add a ladleful of stock and cook, stirring, until it has been absorbed by the rice. Keep the pan on medium heat, adding stock and stirring until the rice is done, 20-25 mins. It should be soft with a hint of firmness in the middle. TIP: Let the rice absorb each ladleful of stock before adding another.
When the rice is almost cooked (taste to see!), stir in the halved prawns, and cook gently, 4-5 mins. TIP: The prawns are cooked when pink on the outside and opaque all the way through. Remove your pan from the heat. Meanwhile, heat a splash of oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Stir-fry the asparagus until tender, 4-5 mins. Season with salt and black pepper and transfer to a plate. Keep warm, covered with foil.
Leave the frying pan on the heat and stirfry the whole prawns. Cook until pink on the outside and opaque in the centre, 4-5 mins. When done, remove from the heat and add a squeeze of lemon juice. Tear the basil leaves and sprinkle half over the prawns, along with the dukkah spice mix.
When the risotto is cooked, add the hard Italian cheese, butter and remaining basil leaves. Stir vigorously until the butter has melted - this makes the risotto extra creamy! Taste and add more salt, black pepper and lemon juice to your liking. Spoon the risotto into bowls and top it with the dukkah prawns and asparagus.