Grilled Sausages, Lemon Risotto & Roasted Asparagus


Grilled Sausages  |  Lemon Risotto  |  Roasted Asparagus

Intro Collage


This evening’s dinner was supposed to be a Pantry Soup…a variety of ingredients taken from the pantry, fridge & freezer that become transformed {with a little bit of kitchen magic} into a savory and satisfying meal, pleasing the palates of everyone gathered at the dinner table.  Well, I just didn’t possess that kind of magic today.  To be completely honest, I simply did not want a soup tonight.  Last week, when I planned the dinner menu for this evening, a simmering pot of lentil, sausage & kale soup seemed like a good idea… after all, I had a jar of lentils and some arborio rice sitting in my pantry and several lovely sausages waiting in the freezer.  But, quite frankly, after last night’s dinner, I was looking for a meal that required minimal assembly.  It was a lovely evening…sunny & mild with cool Bay breezes, fog gently creeping over the Golden Gate…perfect for grilling outside.  Tonight, the lentils would remain tucked away in the pantry but the sausages were destined for the grill. The arborio rice would become a refreshing lemon risotto and some fresh asparagus…simply roasted with a bit of olive oil & sea salt.

So very simple…

The Sausages were a combination of savory pork and herbs as well as a Tuscan chicken variety {savory as well, not the sweet chicken apple style commonly found as breakfast links}…both were handmade by our local butcher.  They cook quickly on the grill and, when finished, can be lightly covered with some foil and set aside while the risotto comes together.  I served the sausages with a side of our homemade mustard {click here for the recipe}.  The mustard is so easy to make and the perfect combination of sweet and savory with the right amount of bite {I love the color the turmeric imparts on the finished mustard}…

Sausages & Mustard Collage

For the Lemon Risotto, I usually prepare my favorite recipe from Patricia Wells, but I did not have any of my homemade chicken stock on hand.  After a bit of poking around I came across this recipe for Risotto al Limone at Saveur.  I was intrigued by it as it does not call for the gradual addition of chicken stock but rather incorporates water and cream.  This latter recipe, however, did not include the herbs {mint, rosemary & sage} that I have come to love in Ms. Well’s version, so the resulting dish this evening was my combination of these two recipes.  This evening’s risotto turned out beautifully rich and silky {thanks to the cream} however,  the overall taste was a bit heavier than my favorite version.  A risotto more suited, in my opinion, for the cooler months, paired with richly braised meats.  A risotto made with chicken stock {especially a homemade version} gets it’s silky texture {without the heaviness of cream} from the gelatin {a glutinous protein found in animal tissues such as bone and skin} naturally found in the chicken and released into the stock through the cooking process.


Lemon Risotto {adapted from Patricia Wells via Food52 & Saveur}

  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • 1 scallion {white and light green parts only},  finely chopped
  • 3 ½ cups arborio rice
  • 1 cup white wine
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • Finely grated zest of 3 lemons {about 1 tbsp.}
  • 1 sprig of each:  mint, rosemary & sage
  • ¾ cup finely grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese {about 2 oz.}
  • Salt
  1. Stem the herbs {mint, rosemary & sage}. Combine herbs with lemon zest and finely chop all together. Set aside.
  2. Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil over high heat on a back burner. Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp. of the butter in a heavy-duty medium pot over medium heat. Add scallions and cook until softened and light golden, about 2 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring constantly, until translucent, about 3–4 minutes. Add wine and cook, stirring constantly, until rice has absorbed most of the wine, about 1 minute.
  3. Add 1 cup of the boiling water to rice, using a ladle, and cook, stirring constantly, until water has been absorbed, 2–3 minutes. Repeat this process 5–6 more times, until rice is al dente. {You’ll have water left over.}  Add cream, as well as the  grated lemon zest & herb mixture, and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes more. Remove from heat, stir in remaining butter and parmigiano-reggiano, and season to taste with salt. {If risotto seems too thick, add more water to adjust to desired consistency.}


We prefer our asparagus steamed but on evenings, such as tonight, when I already have two burners on the stovetop dedicated to the risotto, roasting the stems is a convenient option.  I would never use this method with the very first tender & slim stems of the season, but as you can see below, my stems were quite “chubby”.  When asparagus stems are thick their skin tends to get a bit tough.  This is when I like to peel the asparagus in addition to trimming off the woody ends of the stems.  To do this, simply lay an asparagus stem on a clean, flat work surface and, using a vegetable peeler, remove the skin in strips starting just below the base of the asparagus tip and working towards the end of the stem.  I usually trim a bit more around the thick base creating a more uniform shape which results in a more evenly roasted vegetable.


Roasted Asparagus {adapted from Canal House Cooks Everyday}

  • Fresh asparagus, peeled {if fat} and trimmed
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt & freshly ground pepper
  • Shavings of fresh parmigiano-reggiano cheese {optional}
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Place asparagus in a single layer within a shallow roasting pan.  Brush the stems all over with olive oil and season to taste with salt & pepper.
  3. Roast the asparagus until tender, about 15 minutes.  Remove the pan from the oven and, if desired, top the hot asparagus with parmigiano-reggiano shavings.

Asparagus Collage



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