Spring Risotto with Ham and Asparagus

Ham and Asparagus Risotto 2014 3

About this time last year, some fabulous Paleo people decided to put together a bundle of e-books to sell at an amazing price. I love when that happens because it lets a lot of people get acquainted with more Paleo blogs and cookbooks in an affordable way. Eating healthy and delicious food should be accessible, I think. Within that bundle was a cookbook that compiled a number of recipes from a website called chowstalker where I have posted before. I was honored to be asked to share a recipe for the book and this risotto is what I created. For whatever reason, I didn’t post the recipe on BalancingPaleo last year but it’s delicious and I’d love for all of you to enjoy it too, so here it is!

A risotto is a rice dish from Italy with a creamy, decadent consistency that is both comforting and luxurious at the same time. It can be made many different ways, with many different ingredients. It is a dish to master so that you can create a sumptuous risotto with whatever ingredients you have on hand. For the Paleo eater, cauliflower takes the place of rice and it does so beautifully! While it might lack some of the starchiness of rice, it makes an excellent backdrop for the ham and asparagus in this risotto. Get a quality ham with some good smoke – it’s an important ingredient here and you want to love what you’re eating. Tarragon has a flavor reminiscent of licorice, which is surprisingly delightful in this dish. You could substitute parsley if you can’t find it, but I highly recommend seeking out tarragon if at all possible.

Spring Risotto with Ham and Asparagus is a beautiful dish that comes together quickly and highlights the bright freshness of the season. Serve this at your next dinner party or for a weeknight meal – either way, your taste buds are in for a treat!

Spring Risotto with Ham and Asparagus

2 Tbsp. ghee, divided

1 lb. ham

1/2 large onion

1 large head of cauliflower

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 tsp. salt

1/3 c. vegetable broth

1/4 c. coconut milk, divided

1 bunch asparagus, about 1 lb.

2 scallions, minced

1 Tbsp. fresh tarragon, minced

pepper to taste

Directions

1) Ham: Melt 1/2 Tbsp. of ghee in a large pot over medium-high heat. Cut the ham into matchsticks about 1/4 in. thick. Sear the ham until it begins to caramelize a bit, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

2) Onion and Cauliflower: While the ham is cooking, finely chop the onion. Then roughly chop the cauliflower and drop it into the bowl of a food processor fitted with an s-blade. Process the cauliflower until it looks about like grains of rice – this will take about 10-12 pulses for each batch. A large head will need to be riced in 2-3 batches so it doesn’t get mushy. Set aside in a large bowl.

3) As soon as the ham is cooked and set aside, reduce the heat to medium and add 1 Tbsp. of ghee to the pan. Sauté the onion until slightly translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the riced cauliflower, garlic, and salt, and stir to combine. Add broth and 2 Tbsp. coconut milk. Stir again, place a lid on the pot, and reduce heat slightly. Allow to cook for about 7 minutes.

4) Asparagus: While the cauliflower is cooking, remove the tough portion at the bottom of each asparagus and slice the stalks on the diagonal into pieces about 1 1/2 in. long. If the asparagus is as thick as a finger, first slice each stalk down the middle lengthwise and then into 1 1/2 in. pieces. Add the asparagus pieces to the cauliflower and replace the lid. Cook for 3 minutes.

5) Add the ham back to the mixture and stir in 2 more Tbsp. of coconut milk. Cook uncovered for about 3 minutes until everything is piping hot.

6) Remove risotto from the heat and add 1/2 Tbsp. ghee, scallions, tarragon, and pepper. Enjoy!

Serves 4

Listening

swirling-clouds-above-the-ocean-beach-wallpaper-3111It’s funny how the Universe works. I have this idea, and I know I’m not alone in it, that if you want or need something or perhaps are seeking some truth or answer, and you put that idea energetically into the world, then the Universe will lift that up and begin to answer. The key, though, is that you have to listen. You have to be ready to say, “Yes,” when an opportunity or an idea comes along. You have to be open.

Sometimes the messages that are sent are quite apparent, but sometimes they are far more subtle and you need to find some silence and space to process what may be the tiniest of thoughts or yearnings that begin to surface in your mind and heart. A slight whisper that nudges you to take a risk, try something new, or just a moment shared with another person where something they say triggers something in you.

These moments are precious, but I find that the more I listen for them and to them, the more excited that I get because they often are the manifestation of something that is deep within me that might not have even been fully realized yet. In those moments, it seems the Universe takes over and urges me to try. To grow. To experience. To live.

As an example, yoga is an important part of my life. While I came to it fairly late, dabbling with videos for a few years and then finally discovering what it could be like to do yoga in a studio with an amazing instructor, it transformed me in more ways than I can count. Quite recently I stumbled upon an instructor certification that was attainable for me, and I decided to do it. I didn’t have any specific plans for how or when I would use it, but I went to the training and I was on fire with love and desire for the practice.

And that’s when the Universe stepped in. Suddenly, I received an email and had a conversation with someone about a local gym that was looking for an instructor. I decided to go for it, still feeling nervous but realizing that I was living one of those moments that I needed to listen to. Then, before I even began and quite surprisingly to many, that gym closed. I didn’t dwell on it too much and instead just figured the time wasn’t right. Within weeks, my own instructor, an amazing soul who is the very definition of yoga, asked me to sub for her class. I was deeply honored. Less than a week after that, I received a call from a different yoga studio looking for an instructor, willing to take however much time I could give. I don’t know whether this will work out, I only know that doors are opening so that I might try.

This doesn’t just apply to yoga, either. I see instances of this time and time again. Not only in my life, but also while listening to the experiences of others. Life is full of many unexpected twists and situations that we simply cannot predict, but I think that if we spend some time listening to our hearts and observing the opportunities that come before us, we might see that the Universe is always working for us, helping us to grow and evolve and learn. Sometimes we are learning very specific, factual data that can help us answer questions or complete a task, and that’s all well and good. But sometimes we are learning those things which change our hearts, fuel our passions, and transform us forever. Those are the moments that are really worth listening for.

Reach. Try. Change. Grow. Live.