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While I was away on a girls’ weekend in Maine, pulmonologist Tom was attending the annual Asparagus Festival in Western Michigan. Every year, eczema Michiganders celebrate the harvest with a parade, plenty of beer-battered fried asparagus and the crowning of Miss Asparagus. Good times were had by all from what I hear, and I got a spanking new “I <3 Asparagus” T-shirt. Because I do in fact heart asparagus, Tom brought a couple pounds home. Even after 14 hours of travel, they arrived fresh and crisp.
So what to do with them? I decided on a risotto, and in my quest to try out risottos with all varieties of grains, I used steel cut oats. Yes, oatmeal. Savory oatmeal for dinner. I was a little wary at first, but it turned out pretty and delicious. Creamy, but not mushy. Tangy and decadent as its traditional counterpart, I love that I’ve added a new grain to the risotto roster.
Oat Risotto with Shrimp, Asparagus & Pecorino
This is a fairly typical preparation of traditional risotto with the shrimp, asparagus and Pecorino mixed in at the end.
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 small shallots (or 1 large), thinly sliced
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup steel cut oats
3 – 4 cups chicken stock (or broth), warmed in the microwave (or stove)
1/2 lb. shrimp, peeled, de-veined and tail-off
1/2 lb. asparagus, steamed (or roasted or blanched) and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup grated Pecorino cheese
lots of freshly ground pepper
Heat a heavy-bottomed, 5-quart pan over medium. Once it’s hot, add the butter and the shallots and cook for about 5 minutes or until the shallots turn translucent. Add the oats and mix them into the shallots, toasting them a bit – about 1 minute.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the white wine, stirring slowly until all the liquid is absorbed by the oats. Slowly start ladeling the broth into the oats in 1/8 or 1/4 cup increments, stirring continuously until all the liquid is absorbed before adding more. Repeat this process until the oats are tender, but still a bit chewy. This will take about 25 minutes or so and you may not use up all of your stock.
Add the shrimp and continue to simmer for about 5 minutes until the shrimp turn opaque, adding stock to loosen if necessary. Stir in the asparagus, cheese and lots of freshly ground pepper then remove from heat.
Let stand for a couple of minutes, then serve in deep bowls.