Asparagus-Lemon Risotto

Risotto is a dish that I don't make often enough. It's easy to make, and is the perfect vehicle for almost any seasonal vegetable, or seafood, etc.

Depending upon the additions ~ it can be very budget friendly and healthful, too.

Since asparagus is plentiful in the market right now, and my Meyer lemon bushes are loaded, this combination was the obvious choice. :)

The method is simple; usually I begin with a little butter or olive oil heated over medium-low heat in a large, wide, deep pan. Finely chopped onion or shallots are sweated in the butter/oil until translucent. Next the Arborio rice (Italian short grain) is added and coated in the butter or oil. Next about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of dry white wine is stirred in and allowed to nearly bubble away.

One large ladleful of hot stock or broth (in this case chicken broth) is added to the pan, as it evaporates away another ladleful is added, and so forth until all the broth (about 5 cups in all for 7.5 ounces of rice) is used ~ the key to creamy risotto is to allow each ladelful of broth to nearly disappear before adding the rest, as well as stirring the contents of the pan frequently.

The flavoring ingredients are added during the cooking time ~ for example I add the asparagus shortly after the first ladleful of broth, and the lemon juice shortly thereafter. If, however, I'm making a shrimp risotto, I wait until the rice is nearly cooked so the shrimp does not become rubbery from overcooking. In this recipe I also added finely zested lemon peel ~ added at nearly the end so it would keep it's bright flavor. Finally grated Parmesano Reggiano cheese is stirred in. I always add extra cheese at the table for those who may want more.

A nice finishing touch is a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, or truffle oil if either seem to complement the ingredients in the risotto.

I always peel the ends of the asparagus spears with a vegetable peeler in order to utilize almost the entire spear, then slice each spear into 1/2 to 3/4-inch segments. I reserve the prized tips for garnish ~ I just blanch or steam them gently until just crisp-tender so they retain their bright green color. It's a pretty contrast against the longer-cooked (and faded) asparagus which has given up it's best while cooking with and flavoring the rice.

You don't need a fancy copper pan like this one to make risotto, but this is an example of the general optimum proportions of width to height, allowing plenty of surface area for optimum cooking and evaporation to achieve the desired creamy results.

A wooden spoon is the best for stirring the rice while cooking, it is gentler on the rice (and other ingredients in your risotto) than metal.

For years I simply used one of my favorite traditional wooden spoons for risotto ~ but a couple of years ago I tried this wooden spoon, designed for stirring.

Now I wouldn't make risotto without it! If you make risotto, or polenta with any frequency, I highly recommend getting one of these spoons.

The recipe I used for this particular risotto is from BBC chef Nigel Slater ~

If you would like the recipe you can find a printable copy on my alternate blog;

Once Upon a Plate ~ The Recipes

If you try it, I hope you like it!


  1. I love risotto and this sounds delicious. When making risotto I've always used a small saucepan. I wasn't aware that the proportions of the pan might make a difference. Now I know, so it's a wide pan for me next time :)

  2. I have that spoon and have never thought about using it for risotto. Thanks for the hint. I will never forget being in Italian with the traveler's revenge and feeling terrible. Of course, husband was starving. The waiter told me he would go into the kitchen and order a simple risotto for my stomach. It is an Italian cure-all. It was wonderful and it worked!!

  3. This is beautiful! I was less than thrilled with my last results but I'll have to try it again. ♥

  4. Mari, I was hoping to find this recipe. The bonus was this wooden spoon, I will now be on the hunt for. My hubby cooks a lot with Japanese (sticky) rice and uses a rice paddle. not good with other rices.
    Every time I stroll into your blog.....I'm always distracted by every tantalizing recipe. Today it was the LEMONS. They remind me of summer and I'm very anxious for it's arrival.

    Sweet wishes,

  5. Looks delicious! I hated asparagus as a kid, but now I don't think it is too bad!

  6. Looks delicious, Mari. A gorgeous plating of risotto... and your pan is TDF!! ;) Love it!

  7. It looks so deliciouson that bed of cheese!

  8. I love risotto and don't make it nearly enough. I think that's a good dinner this week.

  9. Lovely, the food, the dishes, the presentation, and now I need the spoon!


Thank you for your comments, friends ~ they make my day!

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