Creamy silky Italian comfort food loaded with asparagus, lemon, and Parmesan cheese. This lemon asparagus risotto makes a delicious meatless main dish.
Risotto is an Italian main dish of rice cooked in stock with other ingredients, such as vegetables and sometimes meat. Risotto is actually not so much of a dish but more of a technique.
It makes a delicious meatless main dish or wonderful topped with shrimp, scallops, or other roasted veggies. Today I’m sharing a recipe for asparagus risotto, which is flavored with fresh lemon juice, Parmesan cheese, and topped with roasted asparagus.
The taste is creamy, silky, and honestly the most satisfying bowl of comfort food.
Secret to Good Risotto
Risotto is a technique and there are a handful of elements that go into making a good risotto. So before we dig into the recipe, let’s cover risotto basics.
- RICE – a type of rice MATTERS! Arborio rice is the most common rice of choice. It’s short-grained and has a tendency to create a very thick sauce. Also no need to rinse the rice. You want all the starch.
- PAN – if your pan is too wide, the rice will cook in a thin layer and won’t be able to bump and grind enough to generate starch. I found that a deep sauté pan works the best for this recipe.
- PREP – prep everything before you begin cooking. Chop the shallots, garlic, heat the stock, grate the parmesan, zest, and juice the lemon. It makes the whole process much easier but more importantly risotto does not wait. It’s perfect the second it is done!
- STOCK – adding cold stock to the rice will briefly stop the cooking process and you don’t want that. You want everything cooking at the same temperature. So, warm up the stock and keep at low heat, barely steaming. Add just enough to the rice to allow the rice to bump up against each other, creating that creamy starch. Wait until the rice absorbs all the stock to add some more.
- STIRRING – risotto’s creaminess comes from the starch generated when grains of rice rub against each other. Not stirring enough, will allow air into the risotto, which will cool it down and make it gluey. Also, the rice will stick to the bottom and burn. So you’ll want to stir frequently.
- HEAT – the rice should be at a medium simmer throughout the cooking. When you add stock to the rice, it should immediately begin to steam and barely simmer.
- END RESULT – saucy in texture and flow like lava if you tilt the plate is what you want in the end.
Ingredients You Will Need to Make Asparagus Risotto
- chicken broth
- arborio rice
- parmesan cheese
- lemon zest and juice
How to Make Asparagus Risotto
- Warm your broth: Warm the broth in a saucepan over medium heat. Keep warm over low heat. It should be just barely steaming.
- Cook the shallots and garlic: Melt butter over medium heat in a deep sauté pan. Add shallots and cook until soft and translucent. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant.
- Toast the rice: Add the rice and stir until every grain is coated with butter. Cook the rice for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add the broth: Add 1/2 cup of warm chicken broth. Stir the rice until all of the stock is absorbed. Continue adding broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring after each addition. As soon as it appears that the rice has absorbed the stock, add in the next 1/2 cup of broth. Risotto is ready when the rice is al dente and the consistency of a thick porridge. The rice should no longer have a hard bite and the grains should be tender but not mushy.
- Roast the asparagus: When the risotto is halfway done, preheat the oven to 425F. Place asparagus on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake until tender, about 8-10 minutes.
- Add in the flavorings: Off heat add the remaining butter, and stir until melted. Add Parmesan, lemon zest, and juice. Stir until cheese is melted and the liquid is creamy but very fluid.
- Stir in more broth if needed to achieve the right consistency. Season with salt to taste. Serve topped with roasted asparagus, more Parmesan if desired, and fresh cracked pepper.
Here are some common mistakes and fixes when it comes to making risotto.
Why does my risotto taste bland? Add some salt. Truly! Even after you stir in the butter, Parmesan cheese, and lemon juice, and zest, the risotto will taste bland. Add in some salt. Taste and add more if needed.
Why is my risotto rice still hard? Check the heat. You may need to slightly bump up the heat and add more broth. Risotto should cook at medium heat. When you add broth to the rice, it should immediately begin to steam and barely simmer.
Why is my risotto not creamy? Make sure not to rinse the rice under water and to stir frequently. The main difference between the risotto technique and other rice cooking techniques is that for risotto, the liquid is added gradually and the rice is stirred often during cooking. The frequent stirring is what helps release the starch from the rice to give risotto its creamy texture.
How do you fix sticky risotto? Simply stir in a little more hot broth, until you reach the desired consistency. Remember risotto should resemble a consistency of a thick porridge.
What to Serve with Asparagus Risotto
Risotto is a rich and creamy main dish that pairs well with a vegetable type side dish. You can also serve risotto topped with seafood, such as scallops, shrimp, or white fish. Here are some risotto pairings to consider:
- Tomato Mozzarella Salad
- Parmesan Arugula Kale Salad
- Roasted Broccoli
- Maple Mustard Salmon
- Bruschetta Baked Cod
Creamy silky Italian comfort food loaded with asparagus, lemon, and Parmesan cheese. It makes a delicious meatless main dish.
- 4 Tbsp. butter, divided
- 2 Tbsp. finely chopped shallots
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 6 cups chicken broth
- 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
- 1 Tbsp. lemon zest, about 2 lemons
- 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 8 oz. asparagus, about 1/2 bunch, trimmed to 3″-inch pieces
- Olive oil, for roasting asparagus
- Kosher salt and fresh black pepper
- In a small saucepan, heat chicken broth over medium heat. Keep warm over low heat on the stovetop. It should be just barely steaming. You do not want the broth simmering at any point.
- Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat in a 4-quart deep sauté pan. Add shallots and cook until soft and translucent, about 2-4 minutes, stirring frequently. You only want the shallots to soften and not take on any color. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant, stirring constantly.
- Add rice and stir well to make sure each granule is coated with the butter. Toast for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently. You will hear a slight crackling noise.
- Add 1/2 cup warm chicken broth and stir the rice until all of the stock is absorbed. Then start adding warm broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring after each addition. As soon as it appears that the rice has absorbed the stock, add in the next 1/2 cup of broth.
- Continue adding broth and stirring after each addition until the rice no longer has a hard bite. The grains should be tender but not mushy, with a slightly firm center. You may not need all of the broth.
- When the risotto is halfway done you’ll want to put the asparagus in the oven. That way it is done when the risotto is done. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place the asparagus on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Lightly drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until tender.
- Risotto is ready when the rice is al dente and is the consistency of thick porridge. It should be more of a liquid than a solid. If you run your spoon through the risotto, the risotto will flow slowly to fill in the space.
- Once the risotto is ready, remove the pan from heat, add the remaining butter, and stir until melted. Add Parmesan, lemon zest, and juice. Stir until cheese is melted and the liquid surrounding risotto is creamy but very fluid. Stir in more broth if needed to achieve the right consistency. Season with salt to taste.
- Serve immediately topped with roasted asparagus, more Parmesan if desired, and fresh cracked pepper.
- Leftovers: Risotto is best enjoyed immediately but if you do happen to have leftover risotto, it will be fine in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Keywords: creamy rice, meatless main dish, spring risotto