Meatless Monday: Lemon Asparagus Risotto

I wasn’t fooling anyone in yesterday’s Sneak Peek. You all knew what Arborio rice is for. I bow down to you *bows dramatically*

The only way I can describe risotto is a rich, creamy, pasta/rice dish that’s starchy and filling. And oh-so-delicious. The best part is it feels pretty sinful, but you only use about 2 Tbsp. of butter and no cream.

The trick is in the stirring. As you stir the rice, you slowly release the starches, which, when combined with the broth, create a thick and cream-like sauce. Those Italians. So tricky.

Risotto is one of those versatile dishes. Throw in whatever’s in season and you’ve got a delicious dish. Since Spring is on its way (just ask my allergies), I decided to make mine an asparagus lemon varietal. I would’ve used fresh peas had I gotten myself to a farmers market. But I never really complain when asparagus is in the picture.

Some things to note:

  • Make sure your broth is hot and only add a ladle-full at a time. You don’t want your broth to be simmering, but steam should be coming up from the pot.
  • You want the risotto to have a bite to it. I’m not talking crunchy. I just don’t think it should be mush. “Al dente” is perfect. Tender but still chewy.
  • This recipe is for two people. It can very easily be doubled (and let’s face it, if you’re going through the trouble of making risotto, you might as well make a lot. Um, hello risotto balls!)
  • I squirted in about 1 tsp. of lemon juice every third ladle pour.
  • This is the time to break out that lovely wooden spoon and put it to work

Risotto with Lemon, Asparagus and Pecorino

  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 Tbsp. EVOO
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • Half a bunch of asparagus, just the tips
  • 1 lemon, juice to taste
  • Lemon zest, to taste
  • 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano or Parmesan, grated
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Stir it Up

  1. In a medium-sized pot, heat the broth over medium heat until steaming, then reduce heat to low. Do not let it simmer, just keep it hot.
  2. In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, melt the butter with the EVOO over medium heat. Add garlic and saute for about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the asparagus and cook for another three minutes, stirring often. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Turn the heat to low. Add the risotto and stir, toasting for about 2 minutes.
  5. With a ladle, pour some broth into the pan with the risotto and stir. Stir occasionally until evaporated.
  6. Continue pouring the broth in by the ladle, adding a new ladle-full each time the previous has evaporated. Keep stirring! This will release the starches. Continue until broth is gone and rice is al dente.
  7. Season with pepper and lemon juice about every third ladle of broth.
    Slowly but surely...
    Gettin' thicker

    Just about ready
  8. After you pour your last ladle of broth, add the cheese and a good squirt of lemon juice and stir to incorporate.
  9. Put the lid on top and let sit for about 5 minutes.
  10. Scoop the risotto, which should be thick and sticky, into bowls and top with a squirt of lemon juice and lemon zest, to taste. Add black pepper on top, to taste.
  11. Serve up and see what it’s really like to warm your soul.

Tips, Tricks and Variations

  • This recipe is easily doubled (2 cups Arborio, 7 cups broth).
  • I didn’t use very much salt because of the vegetable broth and the cheese.
  • Use peas instead of asparagus.
  • Use mushrooms and gruyere for a fall-inspired dish.
  • Saute some onions or leeks with the garlic before you add the risotto.
  • Substitute one cup of the broth for a cup of dry white wine
  • The trick to knowing when to add more broth is simple: The rice will be dry enough that your stirring spoon leaves a trail showing the bottom of the pan.

 

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3 thoughts on “Meatless Monday: Lemon Asparagus Risotto

    1. I’m always trying to think of new things to put in. Got any fun recipes I can try out while I’m on my risotto kick?
      And let’s face it, asparagus in anything is great 😉

      Best,
      Melissa

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