In the context of the question of whether the chicken or the egg (or in this case, the pesto or the risotto) came first, the ramp pesto is the medalist in this recipe. After trying a spoonful of it — raw — from a batch my friend made on his farm, Ralston Farm, in New Jersey, I decided immediately that I would put it in my risotto recipe that I was developing for the week. Roasted asparagus is mixed in to give the risotto another taste of spring, but the real star of this dish is the pesto. Fair warning, though: Try not to eat all of it straight from the jar before you make the risotto.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Lay the asparagus out on a baking sheet and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and toss the stalks together well to distribute the oil and seasonings. Roast in the oven until the stalks are cooked through and charred, about 15-20 minutes. Cut the stalks into ¼-inch pieces and set aside.
In a medium-sized skillet, heat the remaining olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the chicken broth and water in a saucepan and place over low heat.
Add the arborio rice to the onion and garlic and stir well so that each grain of rice is coated in the oil. Add the wine, reduce the heat to medium-low, and stir the rice constantly until all of the wine is absorbed.
When the rice is dry, season with salt and pepper, to taste and add enough chicken broth so that the rice is completely covered in the liquid. Cook, stirring constantly, until all of the broth has been absorbed. Continue to add the warmed broth in increments until the rice is fully cooked through (you should use almost all of the 6 cups).
Remove the pan from the heat and add the chopped asparagus, Parmesan cheese, ramp pesto, and butter. Stir well to incorporate and adjust the seasoning. Serve.