Risotto is a great ingredient to keep on hand in your pantry because its rich and creamy texture is the perfect basis for a wide variety of satisfying, one-dish meals. In this recipe, we’ve combined our basic risotto with asparagus, a whole lemon (peel and all), olive oil, and a little garlic to make a fresh-flavored, spring-inspired dish. Serve with a salad of field greens dressed with a white wine vinaigrette to round out the meal.
Asparagus and Lemon Risotto
- 1 lb asparagus
- 1 whole lemon, preferably organic, scrubbed
- 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1 lb arborio rice
- 1 large shallot, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 4-1/2 to 5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for blanching the asparagus, fill a bowl with ice water and set aside.
- Rinse the asparagus and trim and discard the tough ends. Remove the tips and reserve for finishing the dish. Chop the remaining asparagus stems into 1-1/2-inch pieces and drop them into the boiling water. Cook until bright green and crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes, then drain and quickly transfer to the bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain again and place the stems in the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse on and off until the mixture is puréed (small chunks are okay). Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- Using a paring knife or vegetable peeler, remove the peel from the lemon, leaving as much of the white pith as possible on the fruit. Add the peel to the work bowl of the food processor. Slice the lemon in half crosswise and remove as many seeds as possible, then using a spoon, scoop the segments into the processor. All that should be remaining of the lemon is the thick white pith, which can be discarded. Add 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, the water and a little salt and pepper to the processor. Pulse until the mixture is pureed (small pieces of lemon peel are okay). Add the mixture to the asparagus purée and set aside.
- In a large pan, bring 4-1/2 cups of the chicken broth to a slow simmer over medium heat.
- In a separate saucepan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and sauté until soft and translucent, 2 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté 1 minute longer. Add the rice to the pan and stir to coat with the oil. Cook for 1 minute, add the wine, bring to a simmer then add 1/2 cup of the hot broth.
- Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until the broth has been completely absorbed. Keep adding broth in 1/2 cup increments, allowing each addition to be absorbed before adding more (see tip below). You’ll need to stir continually while the risotto cooks and season to taste with salt and pepper as you go along. Cooking time is approximately 18 to 20 minutes, but start tasting after about 15 minutes and stop adding broth when you’re happy with the texture. Remember that unlike most other varieties of rice, arborio will always be somewhat firm to the bite.
- Stir in the reserved asparagus and lemon purée and cook for 1 minute. Add the reserved asparagus tips and cook for 1 minute longer. To serve, plate individual servings and top with grated Parmigiana-Reggiano cheese.