Spring Risotto: Risotto with Asparagus, Peas, Parsley, and Lemon

March 16, 2010
Author Notes

Asparagus is my culinary harbinger of Spring, and even though it's rainy and cold in NYC right now, the combination of asparagus, peas, parsley, and lemon makes me feel like it's warmer and sunnier - but the warmth and creaminess of the risotto is just the thing for a chilly and damp day. —raspberryeggplant

Test Kitchen Notes

This risotto recipe was a very nice, simple dish with bright flavors and a definite note of spring. The thoughtful and detailed directions were easy to follow, and we appreciated the use of the microwave as a time-and-extra-pots-to-clean-saver. It made the perfect amount of risotto for two, and the asparagus still had just the right amount of crunch to it after being microwaved. I think what set this dish apart from a standard risotto was the simple gremolata added at the end. The parsley and lemon zest are what really make this dish "spring" risotto as opposed to just a standard vegetable risotto. Notes: We used far more fresh parmesan than called for in the recipe. 1 tablespoon between two people is far less parmesan than I have ever used in a dish, but this is just a matter of personal taste for (i.e., addiction to) cheese. Also, I don't know if it was my rice, but I had to use 4 cups of stock as opposed to the recommended 3 cups. I always seem to need more broth when I make a risotto though, and I've never been able to figure out why. All in all, a great dish! - lechef —The Editors

  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour
  • Serves 2
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 medium white onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 6 teaspoons unsalted butter, divided use
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 3/4 cup arborio rice (preferably Vialone Nano)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is best with this dish)
  • 1/2 pound asparagus
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 pinch fine sea salt
  • 1/3 cup frozen petite peas
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
In This Recipe
  1. Put the vegetable broth in a small covered saucepan and bring it to a boil. Turn the heat down as low as it will go and keep the pot covered.
  2. Peel and finely chop the onion and set aside. Peel and mince the garlic and set aside.
  3. Melt 4 teaspoons of the butter in a medium-sized saucepan set over medium heat. Add the onion, salt, and pepper, and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
  4. Add the rice and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the wine and cook until almost all the wine is absorbed, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add ½ cup of the hot vegetable broth and cook, stirring occasionally, until almost all of the broth has been absorbed – this will take about 3 minutes. Repeat this process until the risotto is slightly al dente. [Note: you may not need to use all of the broth.]
  6. While the risotto is cooking, prepare the asparagus. Snap off the tough ends of the asparagus and discard them. Cut the stalks into 1” pieces (I like to do this on the diagonal). Put the asparagus into a microwave-safe bowl and add the olive oil and a pinch of salt. Stir well and cover the bowl with a microwave-safe plate. Cook on high power for 2 ½ minutes, stirring halfway through.
  7. Transfer the asparagus to a plate and add the peas to the bowl. Microwave the peas uncovered on high power until they are just defrosted, about 45 seconds. Do not overcook or they will shrivel up.
  8. Combine the lemon zest and parsley in a small bowl and set the mixture aside.
  9. When the risotto is done, remove the pot from the heat and add the remaining 2 teaspoons of butter. Stir well until the butter is melted and evenly distributed. Add the asparagus, peas, and lemon juice and stir to combine.
  10. Divide the risotto evenly among two plates. Top each plate with half of the grated cheese and half of the parsley-lemon mixture. Serve immediately.
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