First up, a dish to be made sooner than later—before this year's asparagus crop is finished.
1 pound fresh asparagus
11 ounces Arborio or Carnaroli rice
Half a leek
5 cups vegetable broth
2 ounces grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 knobs (approximately 2 to 3 tablespoons) butter, divided
Half glass white wine
(1) Prepare the broth in a pot and keep it warm on a low flame.
(2) Wash the asparagus and cut into thin slices, except for the heads. Cook the heads in the broth then set aside.
(3) Use a large pan to brown the thinly sliced leek in extra virgin olive oil and add a knob (about 1 to 1-1/2 tablespoons) butter.
(4) Add the sliced asparagus and the wine wine to the pan then add the rice. Wait a few seconds until it is golden brown, and then cook with the broth, adding broth one ladle at a time.
(5) Keep stirring until the rice is almost done, stop adding broth and turn off the flame. Add the Parmigiano Reggiano, a knob (about 1 to 1-1/2 tablespoons) butter, and pepper, to taste.
(6) Serve and decorate with the asparagus heads and chives. Enjoy!
For dessert, try one of Valentina Bertazzoni's favorite summer treats.
Makes eight peach halves
4 big yellow peaches
7 ounces Amaretti crunchy cookies
3.5 ounces sugar
1 egg yolk
Eight knobs (about 8 to 12 tablespoons) butter
Half glass white wine
(1) Wash the peaches then cut them in half and pit.
(2) Use a spoon to remove some pulp in the center of each peach and cook it in a saucepan over low heat with the sugar for about 15 minutes.
(3) In a bowl, crush the Amaretti cookies and mix with egg yolk. You can add a drop of sweet liquor, like Sassolino, if you'd like.
(4) Fill the peaches with the mixture and add a knob (about 1 to 1-1/2 tablespoons) butter and a dash of sugar to each one.
(5) Pour the wine into a tray, arrange the peaches on it, and cook at 340 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 minutes.
(6) Enjoy warm or even cold. "They're also delicious the day after," Valentina says.
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