1 small bunch of asparagus
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
Salt and black pepper, to taste
4 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
1.5 quarts of homemade chicken stock
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup of barley grains
1/3 cup of Austerity Chardonnay
1/3 cup of Parmesan cheese
1 small handful of sugar snap peas
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Small bunch claytonia (a flowering green, feel free to sub. any other spring herbs or lettuces)
Cut the tips off the asparagus and set aside to be blanched later. Snap off the woody stems and discard, then take a vegetable peeler and peel the asparagus bases into long strips. Place in a small bowl and cover with the vinegar and a large pinch of salt, adding a little more vinegar if necessary to cover. Toss every so often until the asparagus stems become softened.
While the asparagus is pickling, make the risotto. Heat your chicken stock to a simmer. In a large sauté pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat, and then add your onion. Cook the onion until translucent (approximately 5-7 minutes). Add your barley, and stir in the onions until well coated, and toast in the oil for a minute or so. Reduce your heat to low.
Add the Austerity Chardonnay, and cook until the wine has been incorporated into the grains (a minute or so), and then ladle in your first cup of the simmering broth. Cook, stirring so often until the liquid has been absorbed. Once absorbed, add another ladle of stock. Continue this process until the barley has become tender.
Given that barley is always slightly chewy, it will never get totally soft, but you’ll know when the grain has become pleasantly tender instead of tough to chew. The process will take about 45 mins to an hour.
While the risotto is cooking, blanch the asparagus tops and the slivered peas in boiling salted water for 1 minute, and then rinse under cold water. Set aside.
When the risotto has cooked fully, season with salt and pepper to taste and add most of the Parmesan cheese (leave a few tablespoons to top at the table). Add the butter. Taste once more for seasoning, adding more salt and pepper to taste if necessary.
Ladle the risotto into bowls and then top with the pea/asparagus mixture, the pickled asparagus and the flowering claytonia (or other herbs). Serve alongside some Austerity Chardonnay!