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Asparagus Risotto – an easier way

Delicious risotto does not have to be labor intensive. Although the cooking method for this risotto isn’t traditional, the result is excellent. Rosie and I  developed this minimal-stir technique while working together at a client’s test kitchen. We’ve been cooking risotto this way ever since.

The flavors of grated cheeses vary. Start with 1/3 cup, and then add more if desired. Serve risotto in 1-cup portions as a side dish or larger portions as a main dish. A pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc wine makes a lovely accompaniment.

If you prefer to use table wine to make this risotto, use a light pinot grigio, sauvignon blanc or Chablis. Then follow the slightly altered directions below the recipe.                                Print This Recipe

Lemon-Laced Asparagus Risotto – The Easy Way

1 pound thin asparagus spears
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 cups (14 oz.) Arborio rice
1 cup Holland House White Cooking Wine
4 cups (32 oz.) reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or pecorino-Romano cheese
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel (optional)
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram, tarragon or sage

Wash asparagus and break off the tough ends. Cut spears into 1-inch pieces; set aside.

In a 6-quart pot, melt butter with olive oil. Add onion, garlic and rice. Over medium-high heat, cook and stir 3-4 minutes; do not brown. Add cooking wine and broth. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce heat to low, cover and cook 10 minutes. No need to stir.

Add asparagus, increase heat slightly and continue to cook uncovered about 3 minutes. Stir now and then. Taste rice to ensure it does not overcook. Rice should be al dente and rather soupy. Stir in cheese, lemon peel and marjoram. Remove from heat and serve immediately. Sprinkle with additional cheese, if desired.

Makes 8 cups       An original recipe by Rita Held.  Photo by Suzanne Carreiro.

Asparagus Risotto made with table wine:  1) After cooking and stirring the rice with the butter, olive oil, onion and garlic, stir in 1 cup Chablis or other light white wine. Cook until very creamy and almost all the wine is absorbed—about 2 minutes over medium-high heat.  2) Stir in chicken broth (or vegetable broth) and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce heat to low, cover and cook 10 minutes. No need to stir. Add asparagus as directed above.

Kitchen Notes:  Traditional risotto is very creamy and the rice is firm to the bite. The rice will continue to absorb liquid as it sits.  This recipe may be halved; use a 4-quart saucepan.

Variations:  Use 2 cups fresh peas, or frozen peas (thawed), in place of asparagus.   Stir in 1/2 cup diced ham or prosciutto when adding the asparagus.

Nutrition information per serving (8), with cooking wine: 250 calories, 7g protein, 39carb, 7g fat, (3 g sat. fat), 10mg chol, 560mg sodium, 2g fiber

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  1. Michelle
    Posted April 12, 2010 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    Beautiful Rita! I posted on facebook to share with my friends who cook. Hope you get a fabulous response.

    • Rita's Kitchen
      Posted May 8, 2010 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

      Thanks, Michelle. Let me know what your freinds think.

  2. Posted April 9, 2015 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    Risotto is such a wonderful dish to eat year round. I’ve now made it the old-fashioned way many, many times, in a slow-cooker, and I’ve baked it. Now I want to try this method. I love that there are really a lot of ways to make risotto and still get the same creamy texture with bite.

    • Posted April 9, 2015 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

      Yes Susan! You’d think risotto would be a more common dish, it’s so easy and versatile. Actually, Rosemary and I developed this minimum-stir method together for a client, many years ago.