• 1 litre/1¾ pints vegetable or chicken stock
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 tablespoon butter
• 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
• 4-5 sticks of celery, trimmed and finely chopped
• 600g/1lb 6oz arboreal rice
• 250ml/9fl oz vermouth
• 2 bunches of asparagus, woody ends removed and discarded
• 700ml/1¼ pints hot vegetable stock
• 100g/3½oz butter
• 1-2 handfuls of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
• a bunch of fresh mint, leaves picked and finely chopped
• zest and juice of 2 lemons
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• extra virgin olive oil
Finely chop your asparagus stalks into rounds, keeping the tips whole. Bring the stock to a simmer in a saucepan. Put the olive oil and butter in a separate large pan, add the onion and celery and cook very gently for about 15 minutes, without colouring, until soft. Add the rice (it will sizzle) and turn up the heat. Don't let the rice or veg catch on the bottom of the pan, so keep it moving.
Quickly pour in the vermouth & keep stirring all the time until it has evaporated.
Add the stock to the rice a ladle at a time, stirring and waiting until it has been fully absorbed before adding the next. Turn the heat down to low so the rice doesn't cook too quicklyand continue to add ladlefuls of stock until it has all be absorbed. This should take about 14 to 15 minutes and give you rice that is beginning to soften but is still a little al dente. Put to one side.
Now put a large saucepan on a medium to high heat and pour in half the stock, followed by all your risotto base and the finely sliced asparagus stalks and the tips. Stirring all the time, gently bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer until almost all the stock has been absorbed. Add the rest of the stock a ladleful at a time until the rice and asparagus are cooked. You might not need all your stock. Be careful not to overcook the rice.It should hold its shape but be soft, creamy and oozy, and the overall texture should be slightly looser than you think you want it.
Turn off the heat, beat in your butter and Parmesan, mint, almost all the lemon zest and all the juice. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed. Put a lid on the pan and leave the risotto to rest for a minute. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, a scattering of lemon zest and a block of Parmesan on the table.