Let’s talk all things risotto, shall we?
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.
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.
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.
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. We love it for soups, we adore it for salads, and we enjoy it simply pressure cooked. 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
Spring is to be celebrated, and lemon asparagus risotto is the meal to do it with. The vegetarian dish is fresh and tasty.
- 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)
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.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 35 minutes
- 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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
When most of the liquid from the third cup of stock has been absorbed, stir in the asparagus.
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
Remove from heat and stir in the parsley, lemon juice, lemon zest, and half of the grated Parmigiano Reggiano.
Gently fold in the ricotta until it is fully incorporated.
Spoon into serving bowls.
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.
For more risotto recipes, check out some of our favorites:
- Cremini Mushroom
- Vegan Mushroom and Herb
- Farro Risotto with Butternut Squash, Mushrooms, and Kale
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: June 13, 2021 at 10:46 am.
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.
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.