A Lemon Asparagus Risotto Recipe to Celebrate the Arrival of Spring

Let’s talk all things risotto, shall we?

Vertical image of two white bowls of asparagus risotto on blue and white checkered cloth napkins with forks, beside two glasses of white wine and yellow citrus, on a brown wood table, printed with orange and white text in the middle and at the bottom of the frame.

As many of you know, risotto is notorious for needing constant attention. It takes a bit of time to get just right, so it’s not one of those meals that you can set and forget in the oven.

To me, this particular dish is one of the most romantic meals I know.

That might sound weird, but just think about it. The recipe itself takes time and attention to make, and that’s showing a level of love right there. Then, the fact that you are willing to share it with someone else – that’s a sign of true love.

If you haven’t picked up on it yet, I am a pretty big fan of risotto.

Overhead shot of two white bowls of asparagus risotto with two glasses of white wine, a small glass bowl of grated Parmigiano Reggiano, one whole and one halved yellow lemon, two light blue and white checkered cloth napkins, and a fork, on a brown wooden table.

The first time I made it was a little bit nerve-wracking, to be honest.

It used to be one of those treats that I rarely had the opportunity to chow down on. I had never made it at home before, and after watching it being made on plenty of cooking shows, it looked all too easy to totally mess up.

So, I avoided it. Until one day, I got up the courage to just go for it!

I had to really prep myself for it though. I’m talking breathing exercises, pep talks, and hopping around the kitchen throwing punches like I was about to enter the fight of my life.

As the risotto cooked on the stove, I watched it like a hawk. I stirred and added broth. I stirred, stirred, and stirred some more.

There was a zen-like patience that took over my kitchen as I sipped on some white wine, waiting for the recipe to turn out (or to epically fail).

But the disaster I was expecting never came.

Horizontal closely cropped oblique overhead image of a white bowl of asparagus risotto on a white and blue checkered cloth topped with a fork, with one whole and one halved yellow lemon, a glass of white wine, and a small glass bowl of grated cheese, on a brown striped wood table.

Instead, I sat down to a bowl of something extraordinary. It was so astonishing that I felt like I had just secured a gold medal or something.

From then on, this dish has been my spirit recipe. It’s the one that I completely dedicate myself to whenever I make it, and it turns out brilliantly every single time.

Let me tell you a little more about particular lemon asparagus risotto. It is truly ideal in two different ways:

First, it is springtime in a bowl. The flavors of asparagus, bright lemon, and leeks jump out of the bowl and onto your taste buds with vigor.

Second, you don’t have to season to taste at all. The flavor from the wine, broth, vegetables, citrus, seasonings, and cheeses makes for a dish that comes out tasting just right, every time. It’s pure magic.

Vertical image of two white bowls of homemade asparagus risotto, on blue and white checkered cloth napkins on a brown wood table, with two glasses of white wine, a small glass bowl of grated cheese, whole and halved lemons, and forks.

Here are a few words of wisdom that I can pass along to make your risotto pure perfection:

  • Have patience. This is the biggest one to keep in mind. Though risotto doesn’t take forever to make, it does require some attention. Don’t just walk away from it. Tend to it.
  • Use Arborio rice. When it comes to the rice you use for risotto, there’s a reason you typically see Arborio used. First, it is most widely available. Second, it makes for a really creamy risotto as it releases starch as it cooks.

Choose the best asparagus. Asparagus is best in the springtime. Make sure it feels sturdy and doesn’t look dry. Check out our asparagus guide for more details on how to pick the best bunch.

Print
Horizontal image of a large white bowlful of asparagus risotto, on a white and blue checkered cloth on a brown wood surface with a sliced lemon in the background.

Lemon Asparagus Risotto


  • Author: Shanna Mallon
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x

Description

Spring is to be celebrated, and lemon asparagus risotto is the meal to do it with. The vegetarian dish is fresh and tasty.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 5 cups vegetable or chicken stock, divided
  • 1 lb thin asparagus stalks, ends removed
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 large leeks, sliced (white and light green parts, about 3 cups total)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 2/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup (4 oz) grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup soft cheese (ricotta or mascarpone)

Instructions

Bring stock to a simmer in a medium-sized saucepan.

Slice asparagus in half lengthwise. Cut again widthwise 2-3 times into pieces about 2 inches in length.

In a large saucepan, melt butter on medium heat. Add sliced leeks and saute for about 8-10 minutes until softened, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Stir in rice and cook for about 2 minutes to toast the rice. Stir in white wine and cook until about half of the wine is absorbed, about 2-3 minutes.

Add 1 cup warmed stock and stir, making sure to scrape up any browned pieces, or fond, from the bottom of the pan.

Once most of the liquid has been absorbed, after about 3-5 minutes, add another cup of stock. Continue to stir constantly until the liquid is absorbed. Repeat this step once more. Add the asparagus to the pan when most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Add another cup of stock, and stir in the salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Give the risotto a few stirs, and check the rice for doneness. If the rice isn’t done, add the final cup of stock and continue to cook until liquid is absorbed and rice is cooked through.

Stir in parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, and half of the grated cheese. Gently fold in ricotta.

Spoon into bowls and sprinkle with the remaining Parmigiano Reggiano and a grind of fresh black pepper. Serve immediately.


  • Category: Risotto
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Dinner

Keywords: asparagus, lemon, risotto, asparagus risotto, spring

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Prepare Produce, Grate Cheese, And Measure Remaining Ingredients

Remove the dark green parts of the leeks and discard them. Halve, then rinse leeks well. Slice the white and light green parts. You should have about 3 cups total.

Overhead shot of glass and stainless steel bowls in various shapes and sizes, filled with grated cheese, white wine, minced parsley, lemon zest, ricotta, Arborio rice, vegetable stock, minced garlic, and spices, beside two whole leeks and a bunch of thin asparagus spears secured into a bundle with two blue rubber bands, on a dark gray slate surface.

Peel and mince two cloves of garlic. Get out your garlic press to make easy work of this task!

Remove the ends of the asparagus stalks and discard them. Slice each asparagus stalk in half lengthwise. Cut each length into 2-3 pieces that are about 2 inches in length.

Overhead horizontal shot of fresh asparagus that have been sliced in half lengthwise, on a brown cutting board.

Remove the stems and chop the parsley leaves until you have 1/3 cup total.

Zest one large lemon to get 2 teaspoons total. Check out our review of the best microplanes and zesters to add one to your kitchen!

A brown cutting board is topped with rows of asparagus that have been halved lengthwise and then cut width-wise into thirds.

Grate enough Parmigiano Reggiano cheese so you have about 1 cup total.

Measure out all of the remaining ingredients as listed on the ingredients list.

Step 2 – Warm Stock and Cook Leeks

Add the stock to a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Chicken broth is great for this recipe, or you can use vegetable stock for a vegetarian version. Bring to a simmer and keep warm while you are cooking.

Place a large saucepan or skillet with high walls over medium heat and melt the butter in it.

Vertical closeup image of a large frying pan of sauteeing sliced leeks and minced garlic, being stirred with a wooden spoon, on a gray slate surface.

Add the leeks and cook for about 8-10 minutes, until soft. Be sure to stir occasionally.

Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Step 3 – Toast Rice

Stir in the rice and cook it for about 2 minutes.

Horizontal image of a large frying pan with high walls, filled with a mixture of Arborio rice and sliced leeks, being stirred with a wooden spoon, on a gray slate background.

Be sure to stir it in well, so the grains are coated in melted butter.

Step 4 – Add Liquid and Cook Rice

Pour in the white wine, stir to combine, and continue to cook until about half of the wine is absorbed. This will take about 2-3 minutes.

Horizontal image of a large frying pan of arborio rice, leeks, and garlic, being stirred with a wooden spoon, on a gray slate background.

Ladle in 1 cup of warm stock. Stir, scraping up any flavorful browned pieces from the bottom of the pan. Cook, stirring frequently, until most of the liquid is absorbed. This will take about 3-5 more minutes.

Horizontal of a large nonstick frying pan of rice, broth, sliced leeks, and other ingredients to make a vegetable risotto, on a gray slate background.

Add another cup of stock. Continue to stir frequently, until the liquid is absorbed. Repeat this step once more after the stock has been fully absorbed.

A wooden spoon stirs sliced fresh asparagus into a large frying pan of rice and broth, on a gray slate surface.

When most of the liquid from the third cup of stock has been absorbed, stir in the asparagus.

Horizontal image of a large frying pan of broth, medium-grain white rice, asparagus, and leeks, being stirred with a wooden spoon, on a gray slate surface.

Pour in another cup of stock and add the salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Continue to cook until most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked through. Test for doneness.

If the rice is not cooked through, add the final cup of stock and continue to cook until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked through.

Step 5 – Finish Risotto

Horizontal image of a large frying pan of rice, leeks, and asparagus, with small piles of grated cheese, parsley, and lemon zest on top, with a wooden spoon, on a gray slate background.

Remove from heat and stir in the parsley, lemon juice, lemon zest, and half of the grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

Overhead horizontal image of a large nonstick frying pan of lemon, leek, and asparagus risotto, with a wooden spoon stirring the mixture, on a gray slate surface.

Gently fold in the ricotta until it is fully incorporated.

A large dollop of ricotta sits in the middle of large frying pan of cooked Arborio rice, leeks, and asparagus, about to be stirred into the mixture with a wooden spoon that is coming towards it from the top of the frame, on a gray slate background.

Spoon into serving bowls.

A wooden spoon stirs a vegetable risotto mixture in a large frying pan with high walls, on a gray slate background.

Sprinkle with the remaining Parmigiano Reggiano, and a few grinds of freshly cracked black pepper. Serve immediately.

Which White Wine Is Best to Cook With?

When choosing a wine to use for making risotto, be sure to pick a dry wine. The goal with choosing the right wine this dish is to make sure it isn’t sweet.

You want a dry, crisp wine like Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Gris, or Pinot Blanc. Be sure to avoid the Chardonnays and more full-bodied wines.

Pick something that you enjoy drinking! The rest of the bottle can be put to good use to serve in glasses alongside this delicious meal.

Head-on horizontal shot of a shallow white ceramic bowl of asparagus risotto with another identical bowl in soft focus in the background, on top of two light blue and white checkered cloth napkins with two glasses of white wine, whole and cut lemons, forks, and a small glass bowl of grated Parmigiano Reggiano, on a brown wood table.

For more risotto recipes, check out some of our favorites:

And for an alternative grain recipe similar to risotto, try our Creamy Pumpkin Kamut!

What type of white wine do you prefer to cook with – and sip on while you’re cooking? Tell us in the comments below, and be sure to rate the recipe once you try it!

Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Shanna Mallon on September 23, 2009. Last updated: November 6, 2019 at 16:41 pm.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

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About Meghan Yager

Meghan Yager is a food addict turned food and travel writer with a love for creating uncomplicated, gourmet recipes and devouring anything the world serves up. As the author of the food and travel blog Cake 'n Knife, Meghan focuses on unique foodie experiences from around the world to right at home in your own kitchen.

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