I don't know, you guys. It's been so busy around here for weeks and weeks. In the past month we've had one weekend without either travel or parental houseguests. Summer is busy season at work, too, so no relief on any side. Mostly I am doing things like "warming up leftover takeout palak paneer in the toaster oven."
On the other hand, we also have the awesomeness that is our CSA. They're all about giving us huge bunches of asparagus right now. Asparagus! Hooray! I made practically a week's worth of food out of our first bunch, in the form of exciting risotto. I ate it for dinner, then had the leftovers (with supplements) for three consecutive work lunches. I feel very efficient.
However, the most exciting element wasn't the massive quantity, or the greatness of the asparagus. It was the grain content: equal parts arborio rice and barley. I only had a little actual arborio, so (based on a couple mentions of barley risotto) I decided to experiment. It completely paid off. The result is practically indistinguishable from straight arborio risotto. You know, except for the part where it's cheaper and healthier. WIN.
veg broth/water and scraps
dry white wine or vermouth
a bunch of asparagus
parmesan/good grating cheese, if you want it
Warm some olive oil in a deep pot; chop up an onion and soften it in the oil. In the meantime, add your onion skin and root, plus any other reasonable stockpile you have lying around, into a second pot, cover with water and a lid, and simmer to make broth. If you have actual broth in the freezer, you can use that too, as long as you get it good and hot first. Hot broth is the key to making a risotto cook in about a half hour, as opposed to NEVER.
When your onion is soft, add maybe 3/4 cup each arborio rice and barley to the pan. Cover with a glassful of dry white wine or vermouth, then cook, stirring, over medium-high heat. After a few minutes, the rice will absorb all the wine. Transfer a cup or so of broth from its pan to the rice pan, making sure not to catch any accidental onion skins, and keep cooking, stirring often. Repeat, adding broth as it gets absorbed, for about twenty minutes, or until your grain is almost completely cooked through.
Trim your asparagus and cut the remaining stems into inch-long pieces. Toss them into the risotto and cook for maybe 3-5 more minutes, or until the asparagus is done.
Salt and pepper the whole business. Stir in a whole bunch of chopped fresh parsley. If you want cheese, grate it and stir it in as well.
Now put it in a bowl, throw any loose bits of parsley lying around over it, and eat it!