1 pound pencil asparagus, trimmed
4 ounces spinach, washed, dried, stemmed, blanched, liquid squeezed out
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
freshly ground white pepper
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced shallots
3/4 cup Arborio rice
1/3 cup dry white wine
2 1/2 to 3 cups homemade or store-bought chicken stock, hot
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
fried julienne of leeks, for optional garnish
Cut off 3-inch asparagus tips and reserve. Chop the remaining stalks, blanch, drain well and transfer to a blender. Add the spinach and process to a puree. Pass through a fine-mesh strainer. Reserve.
Blanch the asparagus tips, drain and sautn 1 tablespoon each of the butter and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Reserve.
In a medium saucepan, heat 3 tablespoons each of the butter and olive oil. Add the garlic and shallots and sautntil soft. Do not brown.
Add the rice and sautntil well coated with the oil. Deglaze with the wine and reduce until almost dry.
Using a 4-ounce ladle, add 1 ladle of stock to the rice. Stir the rice over medium heat until the stock is absorbed and the rice is almost dry. Add another ladle of stock, and repeat the procedure until you have added a total of 2 1/2 cups of stock, or just until the rice is tender but still firm. Stir in the reserved vegetable puree.
Remove from the heat, and stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and the Parmesan cheese. Continue to add stock to the desired consistency. It should be moist and creamy but not runny. Season with salt and pepper.
Divide among 4 heated serving plates, and garnish with saut asparagus tips and fried julienne of leeks, if desired. Serve immediately.
Makes 4 servings.
Here is a recipe you can make in the summer when, Puck noted, "tomatoes are bursting with flavor."
This no-cook gazpacho can be made a day ahead.
"If the texture is too thick for your taste, stir in a little tomato juice," Puck said. The recipe makes 3 quarts.
10 (about 2 pounds) Roma tomatoes, cored and chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
1 English cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 medium celery stalks, chopped
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cups tomato juice
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sherry wine vinegar
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
For the topping mixture:
1/4 cup red bell pepper, cored, seeded, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/4 cup yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/4 cup red onion, peeled, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/4 cup cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/2 cup red and yellow pear tomatoes, coarsely chopped
3 ripe avocados, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 cup minced fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
freshly ground black pepper
Garnishes: 12 to 16 large shrimp, peeled, deveined, butterflied, poached and chilled
6 to 8 sprigs fresh cilantro
6 to 8 lime wedges
Prepare gazpacho: In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients (Roma tomatoes through paprika). Cover and refrigerate for one hour.
Transfer to a food processor; pulse until almost pureed, leaving a little texture. Season with salt and pepper. Return to bowl, cover, and refrigerate another hour before serving.
Prepare topping mixture: In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients until well blended. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
To serve: Ladle 10 to 12 ounces gazpacho into chilled soup plates. On a large serving spoon, place 1/4 cup of the topping mixture, top with 2 shrimp and garnish with a sprig of cilantro. Carefully place in the center of the plate of soup. Place a wedge of lime on the rim of the plate.
Makes 3 quarts.
Note: Basic gazpacho soup can be prepared up to two days ahead before serving (make the topping and garnish at serving time). Keep refrigerated.