Asparagus Risotto ♥ Recipe

Asparagus Risotto, the spring classic ♥ AVeggieVenture.com, except lighter, with more flavor, thanks to a gorgeous Aspargus Stock that uses the whole spear. Weeknight Easy, Weekend Special. Gluten Free.
A classic spring risotto, such a lovely spring green color. Vital color and vibrant flavor are thanks to a bright green "asparagus stock" that uses whole asparagus spears, not just the tender asparagus tips, to squeeze out every single drop of asparagus flavor.

Fresh & Seasonal, a Spring Classic. Great for Meal Prep. Weeknight Easy, Weekend Special. Vegetarian. Naturally Gluten Free.


Dreamy Stuff, This Risotto.

Four days ago, the asparagus began to poke from the ground, appearing like alien spears during the night, some fat and sturdy, others as thin as straw. The first morning, there was enough for a raw asparagus salad for a post-breakfast snack, that night, plenty for just baaarely roasting, though we ate in the dark, so no pictures and thus I'll need to make it again (lucky me) to share the technique. (And so I did ... Barely Roasted Asparagus.)

But then, wow, Asparagus Risotto, so much more than the sum of its parts, completely dreamy.

Extracting Flavor from Asparagus

For risotto, choose either medium-thick spears or thick spears: save the skinny asparagus for other dishes, salads, eggs, etc. Do the asparagus need to be homegrown or locally grown? Sure, if that's important to you. But even with supermarket asparagus, you won't be disappointed.

This risotto uses the whole spear to extract flavor: the woody ends get cooked and squeezed; the stalks get cooked and puréed into an asparagus stock; the tips are flash-cooked and then stirred into the rice for texture contrast and color drama. Before starting to cook, trim the very ends, then separate the asparagus into three piles.

The Woody Ends Ha! We usually toss out the woody ends because, well, they're woody, not always edible. But not here. Break off the woody ends (here's how, see Asparagus & Woody Ends, with a quick video) and set them aside. The woody ends will simmer for 10 minutes, then the juices get squeezed out just by pressing the ends against the side of the pot. If the skins are really fibrous after cooking, toss them but I find they're often tender enough to go into the blender.

The Tender Tips So many recipes focus on the tips, no surprise, they're so pretty! But for this recipe, the tips are flash-cooked for just 2 minutes in the same water, just until tender. Most of the tips get stirred into the risotto for texture contrast but I like to save a few for garnish, too.

The Center Stalks These are cooked for 3 minutes and will make up the bulk of the Asparagus Stock.

Asparagus Risotto, the spring classic ♥ AVeggieVenture.com, except lighter, with more flavor, thanks to a gorgeous Aspargus Stock that uses the whole spear. Weeknight Easy, Weekend Special. Gluten Free.




Just updated. First published way back in 2009

ASPARAGUS RISOTTO

Hands-on time: 1 hour (but with time off for making a salad, setting the table, etc.)
Time to table: 1 hour
Serves 4

ASPARAGUS STOCK
3 cups water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound fresh asparagus, rinsed well, especially the tips

RISOTTO
2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1 cup (200g) risotto rice (arborio or carnaroli) or a white rice (jasmine or basmati)
2/3 cup vermouth or dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh herbs (dill or thyme, say), optional

MAKE THE ASPARAGUS STOCK Bring the water and 1 teaspoon kosher salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. If the cut end of the spears are a little gnarly, trim off a tiny bit and discard.

1) WOODY ENDS Break off the woody ends of the asparagus (this means to bend the spear near its base, moving up toward the tip, the spear will find its natural breaking point, here's howAsparagus & Woody Ends (Step-by-Step Photos & Video)). When the water boils, cook these for 10 minutes, squeezing them with the back of a spoon to extract the asparagus juice, then remove the solides with a slotted spoon. Check these, some may be soft enough to be used in the stock, if so, save them. Otherwise, discard whatever's too tough or fibrous.
2) TIPS Cut off the tips and cook in the same water just until tender, about 2 minutes, remove with a slotted spoon and reserve.
3) STALKS Chop the remaining stalks into one-inch pieces and cook in the same water for 3 minutes.
4) MOVE TO BLENDER Transfer about half the liquid plus any cooked woody ends soft enough to chop up plus the cooked one-inch pieces of stalk to a blender and blend until smooth, using the safety tips below. After blending, you should have three cups Asparagus Stock, if not add water to make three cups.

IMPORTANT BLENDER SAFETY TIPS! Two important tips for using a kitchen blender. First, make sure the blender is turned off before plugging it in. Second, when putting hot liquid into a blender, never fill it more than half full. This is because the hot liquid will create pressure and the top will want to blow off. As many years as I've known this and been careful, not long ago I had a blender explode and experienced a minor burn and a huge mess. So now I've started to hold the top of the blender on tightly with a clean folded towel. It makes it easier to hold onto the top of the blender, plus, if there is too much pressure to contain, your hand is protected.

MAKE THE RISOTTO While preparing the asparagus stock, melt the butter in a large deep skillet on MEDIUM heat until shimmery. Add the onion and cook until just beginning to soften, without allowing any color to develop. Add the garlic and stir for a minute. Add the rice and stir to coat with fat. Add the vermouth, reduce the heat to LOW and let slowly simmer until the liquid is absorbed. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt. Return heat to MEDIUM and stir in about 1/3 cup of the asparagus stock. It should simmer briskly, stir occasionally to help it be absorbed into the rice. A third cup at a time, add more stock and let it become absorbed. When about 1/2 cup of Asparagus Stock remains, stir in the asparagus tips. If you like, reserve the remaining Asparagus Stock for garnishing the plates, otherwise stir it into the risotto as well.

TO SERVE Transfer to serving plates, surrounding with the reserved Asparagus Stock and sprinkle with fresh herbs, if using. Serve and ... savor.

MAKE AHEAD TIPS If you like, make the Asparagus Stock a day or a few hours ahead of time. Even the risotto itself can be made ahead of time and reheated but me, I love the slow, relaxing stir-stir-stirring that happens with risotto, the rest of dinner already done and waiting, a glass of wine within reach. "It's just rice and asparagus" but somehow, risotto is something entirely more than the sum of its parts.

ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
The inspiring recipe calls for stirring in 1/4 cup grated Parmesan at the end but we find the risotto plenty rich enough without.
The Asparagus Stock is amazing! I love its bright green color, which is why I recommend keeping some in reserve to pool around the risotto.
Curious about the risotto rice carnaroli? See Beet Green Risotto for an introduction.



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Looking for healthy new ways to cook vegetables? A Veggie Venture is home to hundreds of super-organized quick, easy and healthful vegetable recipes and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables. Join "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg to explore the exciting world of common and not-so-common vegetables, seasonal to staples, savory to sweet, salads to sides, soups to supper, simple to special.

© Copyright Kitchen Parade
2009 & 2020 (repub)


Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.

Comments

  1. I LOVE the color of this! Risotto is one of my favorite dishes and this one looks fabulous!

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  2. yum! great color. asparagus is a favorite of mine.

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  3. Asparagus and rice is a beautiful combination. I wish I could say that asparagus season was here (in Maine) but not yet. Try around July 4! Great pic too...

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  4. Looks great! I usually peel the asparagus first.

    And just today I made a rice (short grain brown rice which I cook like risotto) asparagus salad. What coincidence!

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  5. Looks great! I've never had asparagus risotto but this looks fantastic!

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  6. We're just seeing the first local asparagus at our favorite farm in Connecticut in the past few days. My favorite risotto also has asparagus, but with a saffron base... and to gild the lily, a few sauteed shrimp mixed in.

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  7. This sounds so good. And healthy! I usually make risotto with more butter and then top it off with a generous helping of parmesan, but when showcasing your garden-fresh asparagus, this sounds like the way to go! I will need to make a little visit to the farmer's market and make this dish! Thank you!

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  8. A simple and elegant recipe Alanna :)
    I have always seen risotto cooked in skillets. Does using a nonstick pan make a significant difference?

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  9. Dianne ~ I found the color most pleasing too!

    VeggieVixen ~ Color and a favorite? You're in.

    Stephen ~ It always surprises me that Maine and Missouri have such different growing seasons.

    IHahn ~ I considered peeling the asparagus but this was pretty tender, it wasn't needed. If in doubt, peel!

    Maris ~ You're in for a treat!

    Lydia ~ I love the idea of add shrimp, scallops would be great too. I think I see another batch in my future ...

    Alta ~ Risotto is so often all about the 'more', isn't it?!

    N ~ Thanks! The stock is cooked in a saucepan but the risotto, yes, is made in a skillet. I do use a non-stick skillet as well.

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  10. Lovely recipe, thanks Alanna !

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  11. Lovely green colour, Alanna!!

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  12. I'm making this today. I think I'll try to shoot it, but I don't think it will be as pretty as your picture!

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  13. This does look dreamy. We haven't tried growing asparagus yet, but I have my eye on a spot in the yard for a new raised bed just for asparagus.

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. (So sorry, as of 4/23/22, I’ve had to turn comments off to prevent hundreds of spam comments a day. Stupid Spammers.) ~ Alanna