Pesto Buckwheat Risotto with Asparagus and Rocket
Spring should soon be turning into summer. The trees have been green for weeks and the evenings are becoming way longer and lighter, but in Paris (and from what I have heard, in England too) the rain won't stop coming down. Whilst it is still a bit early for picnics and ice lollies, I wanted to make something bright but still comforting and warm. Technically this isn't really risotto, but it reminds me so much of Risotto Verde which I adore - it is fresh, vibrant and perfect for those grey days while you wait for summer to come.
Buckwheat is a great alternative to rice. It has a delicious nutty taste which pairs so well with the pesto and I find it cooks quicker too. Not only is it more exciting to have a change sometimes, buckwheat is much better for you than usual risotto rice (I explained the problems associated with white rice in my post for Brown Rice Nori Rolls). Despite it's name, buckwheat is gluten-free and since it is not a grain it can be enjoyed by people following a paleo diet.
Asparagus is one of my absolute favourite vegetables and luckily it is in season right now. The markets are stacked up with big bundles and I can't get enough of it. Asparagus is quick to cook and delicious eaten on its own with lemon juice, a drizzle of oilive oïl and a sprinkle of sea salt (or lashings of butter for most people!), plus it is a serious supergreen, packed with vitamins (A,C,E and K), anti-cancer compounds (glutathione - also found in kale, avo and sprouts), loads of antioxidants and folate to boost your brain.
For the pesto: (will make way more than you need but it freezes very well)
Big bunch of parsely
1.5 cups of hazelnuts
1 clove of garlic
1 cup of olive oïl
Juice of half a lemon
Pinch of sea salt
1 cup of buckwheat (preferably soaked for a few hours)
Big handful of rocket
Small bunch of asparagus
Blend all the pesto ingredients for a minute or two until nearly smooth. At the same time, bring a pan of water to the boil, then add in your buckwheat and cook for 10-15 minutes (or until soft).
While the buckwheat cooks, slice the courgette and sautée it in a little olive oïl until just turning golden brown, then cut the asparagus into pieces and steam for 2 minutes (so they still have a bit of bite).
When everything is cooked, stir the pesto, courgette, asparagus and pesto together then serve on a plate of rocket.
Peas would be a great add in (I actually forgot to add them...) and dairy eaters might like a bit of shaved parmesan on top.