Asparagus Risotto – Creamy, cheesy homemade risotto is taken up a notch with the addition of crispy asparagus
Risotto is one of the first “fancy” dishes I learned to make. I watched a lot of Food Network growing up and risotto was regularly featured on Everyday Italian with Giada De Laurentiis. She always presented it as a dish that was made to impress but was easier to make than it seemed.
So I decided to try my hand at the Italian dish. I made my first risotto for Mother’s Day – or maybe it was Easter – about 10 years ago. I was in college at the time but came home to celebrate one of those spring holidays. I made a mushroom risotto for the family and it tasted incredible – super creamy, cheesy, and rich.
Mushroom risotto is still one of my favorite variations however it seems most appropriate for later in the year. Instead, I have a yummy spring version of risotto to serve while the best produce is still in season.
And so I present to you – Asparagus Risotto!
The Keys to Making Risotto
Risotto is, at its core, just rice that is slowly cooked with chicken broth. That’s really all there is to it! The most complicated part of the process doesn’t require skill, but rather it requires patience.
The broth is added to the rice only a couple ladles at a time so that the rice can absorb all the liquid before the next ladle is added. This means you have to stand at the skillet, constantly stirring the rice to help it absorb the liquid without burning the bottom of the rice.
Another couple things that you’ll see in every risotto are:
- White wine – onions are cooked with the rice before any liquid is added. Then, we add white wine to deglaze the pan and remove all the brown bits from the pan before we get the whole process going.
- Parmesan cheese – every risotto is finished with a huge scoop of grated Parmesan cheese. This addition adds creaminess, no doubt. But it also adds a nutty, salty flavor to the risotto that elevates it tremendously.
This recipe for asparagus risotto is pretty simple. The base for the risotto is very basic – chicken broth, rice, onions, white wine, Parmesan cheese. Once the risotto is complete, we add in some blanched asparagus pieces.
Blanching asparagus just means we cook it just until it’s tender, about 2 minutes. Then, we throw it in ice water to stop the asparagus from cooking. This helps keep that bright, green color instead of turning a more dull, darker green.
Finally, the risotto is finished with a few pats of butter and a lot of Parmesan cheese.
Tips & Tricks
Risotto can seem intimidating if you’ve never made it before. But with the right preparation, you can handle it! Here are some tips to get you ready for this recipe:
- It’s very important that you use short grain rice for any risotto. This ensures that the rice gets tender and not mushy. Arborio rice is the rice traditionally used in risotto and it’s much easier to find in stores than it used to be.
- Do not worry about seasoning the risotto too much until the very end. Parmesan cheese is super salty so you may find that it adds enough seasoning and it doesn’t need much more. Remember, you can always add more salt but you can’t take any away once you’ve added it.
- Make sure you have a skillet large enough to fit all the risotto. I’ve made the mistake of using a skillet that was too small and, by the end of the recipe, the rice would almost be spilling out of the edges of the skillet.
There you have it – a great side dish (or even main dish) for you to enjoy this spring. I made this for Easter a couple weeks ago and it was a hit. It’s also a great option for Mother’s Day brunch coming up next weekend! Hope you love it!
- 1 pound asparagus cut into 2-inch pieces
- 5 cups chicken broth low sodium
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
- 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
- Place chicken broth in large saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Keep it warm until ready to use.
- Boil a large bot of salted water. Add cut asparagus and blanch for 2 minutes. Cool cooked asparagus in ice water and dry off. Set aside.
- Add olive oil to a large saute pan and place over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until they soften, about 3 minutes. Add rice and stir for 1 minute. Add white wine and stir until wine had evaporated, about 1-2 minutes. Season with a little salt and pepper.
- Add two ladles of warm chicken broth to rice and stir until rice has absorbed the broth. Repeat with two more ladles of broth. Continue process until all of the broth has been absorbed by the rice. Continue adding stock two ladles at a time until all the stock has been absorbed by the risotto. Remove risotto from heat. Add cheese and butter and stir together until they've melted into the risotto. Give the risotto a taste and season, if needed.
- Add in blanched asparagus and stir until combined. Serve immediately.
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