Cedar Plank Salmon & Asparagus Orzotto

Do you have recipes saved in your favorites folder or marked in your reader that you are so excited to make, but just can’t seem to get to? This Asparagus Risotto has been that meal for me for a couple weeks. The problem for me is that I just don’t have time for risotto during the week. I kept trying to work this into our weekend plans, but we’ve just been running around so much lately. I also knew I wanted to pair it with the wild Alaskan salmon in the freezer that our generous neighbors shared with us, and that I wanted to cook that salmon on a cedar plank – which also requires planning ahead since I’d need several hours to soak the planks.

This Saturday morning, I finally decided to force the meal into our plans by getting out the plank to soak and taking out the salmon to thaw. If I had already soaked the plank and thawed the salmon, I’d have no choice but to cook it – no matter where our day took us and what time we’d get home later. I also made sure I had all the ingredients for the risotto.
For the salmon, I decided to go with Bobby Flay’s recommendation of a simple dijon mustard and brown sugar coating – just the right amount of sweet and spicy flavor to compliment the salmon without overpowering it. Cooking the fish on a cedar plank is so easy and a fun way to make an elegant meal at home, adding a smokey flavor you just don’t get from pan-searing or baking. Cedar planks are cheap too, so I highly recommend it!

You might be wondering why my post title says “orzotto” when I’ve mentioned risotto a couple times already. Risotto is a creamy rice dish made with arborio rice and is characterized by a specific method of adding liquid to the rice in small additions and letting each addition fully absorb before adding the next. But, just about any grain could be cooked in this style, and I learned from my friend Elly that when barley is cooked this way, it’s actually called orzotto.

The reason I was particularly drawn to the Asparagus Risotto recipe was that it wasn’t just risotto with asparagus, but actually called for making your own asparagus stock to cook the grain in. And the little claim – that this risotto was so rich as is that it did not even need the typical cheese – was intriguing. I wanted to try this with barley, to pack a little extra healthy-punch in there. I also thought it was missing something – lemon, to be exact.

So, how did this all turn out? Well as usual, our day was packed with running around here and there, picking up this and that, and we got home much later than planned. I was hungry, hubs was hungry, and I was cranky about getting started on a meal that would certainly not be quick. Added to the normal lengthy time of making risotto was the time it took me to make the asparagus stock, before I could actually start cooking the barley. Oh, and did I mention barley takes longer to cook than arborio? Oy, I was pretty much cranky until dinner was on the table and the photos were finished – then, all crankiness flew away as I began to chew on deliciousness. The boy and I were both so pleased to enjoy such a nice dinner at home without the expense of a restaurant, that it didn’t even matter that we had to wait a bit longer than we would have liked. Oh, and by the way, I agree on the cheese- totally not necessary!

Asparagus Orzotto

1 bunch asparagus, 10oz
3 cups water
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 of a medium onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2oz white wine
1oz lemon juice
1/2 cup pearl barley
salt & pepper, to taste

Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan. Snap the tough ends of the asparagus from the stock, and cook these in the water for about 10 minutes, until tender. Press on them with the back of a spoon to release to the juices then remove and discard. Trim the stems from the asparagus, add these to the water and cook for about2 minutes. Remove the stems and set aside. Chop the remaining asparagus pieces into 1/2″ chunks and add to the water. Cook for about 3 minutes, or until tender. Remove the saucepan from the heat and puree using an immersion blender. Return to low heat.

Melt butter in a separate saucepan or deep skillet over medium-low heat, then add onion and cook until translucent and soft. Add garlic and barley, stir well and cook for another minute or so. Add the wine and lemon juice and cook until liquid has evaporated. Begin the broth additions – add a ladle at time, stirring often, and letting each addition be fully absorbed by the barley before adding the next. Continue until all the broth has been added, or until the barley is tender to bite. Season to taste with salt and pepper, serve immediately.

Nutritional Info
Servings Per Recipe: 2
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 285.7
Total Fat: 6.3 g
Cholesterol: 15.5 mg
Sodium: 8.4 mg
Total Carbs: 51.5 g
Dietary Fiber: 12.4 g
Protein: 9.9 g
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4 Responses to “Cedar Plank Salmon & Asparagus Orzotto”

  1. 1

    Kerstin — May 24, 2009 @ 4:22 pm Reply

    Your asparagus orzotto looks delicious and I love your lightened up version! We’re big salmon fans, so I’ll have to look into getting a cedar plank.

  2. 2

    jennifer — September 16, 2009 @ 3:02 pm Reply

    I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.Bettyhttp://mortgagecalculato-r.com

  3. 3

    LOCADEBARNA — August 17, 2010 @ 8:33 pm Reply

    it seems wonderful. this orzotto with the beatiful aspargus is a very interesting combination. I do something similar but with spinats with rice or orzo and like you with salmon fresh or with smoked one. In both cases the result is super.best regardsastrid

  4. 4

    LOCADEBARNA — April 5, 2011 @ 1:14 am Reply

    it seems wonderful. this orzotto with the beatiful aspargus is a very interesting combination. I do something similar but with spinats with rice or orzo and like you with salmon fresh or with smoked one. In both cases the result is super.best regardsastrid

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