A quick, easy and delicious asparagus risotto recipe that’s just slightly different as we add some freshly puréed asparagus at the end of our cooking time. Get the very flavours of spring on your plate!
This asparagus risotto is light in flavour, with the sweet, earthy and grassy flavours of the asparagus commanding attention. As asparagus is such an unassuming vegetable, I love adding some tart lemon juice and bold black pepper to heighten that mildness.
Asparagus Risotto Recipe
It’s such an easy recipe, and can be done in 30 minutes flat. All we do is:
- Simmer the stock
- Sauté the onions, then rice
- Start adding the stock to cook the rice (this will take about 15 minutes)
- Blanch half the asparagus and purée them
- Finish cooking the risotto by adding the chopped and puréed asparagus
Told ya it was easy!
Basic Risotto Recipe
Now, as always with our risotto recipes, before we go any further, I suggest you head on over to the Basic Risotto article here on LinsFood. It’s full of everything you need, to master the art of cooking risotto.
On the basic risotto post, we talk about:
- the history of risotto
- risotto rice
- stock for risotto
- risotto science (!)
- fat for risotto
- stirring or no stirring
- mantecatura – the art of creaming with the addition of fat (butter, olive oil, cheese), how we finish cooking risotto
In other words, everything you ever wanted to know about risotto. But were too afraid to ask!
Read that post whether you’re new to cooking risotto or not. You’ll be amazed at what you learn. Then we can get right down to it on this post. After we briefly chat about asparagus, that is.
How to prepare asparagus for our asparagus risotto
When buying asparagus, always look for the bright green ones. No brown or straggly looking bits, and certainly no split ends. Leave that for your hair!
All you need to do to prepare asparagus, is to rinse it, then holding each stalk in your hands, towards the thicker end, just bend the asparagus. It will naturally break at the point where woody meets fleshy. Yes, there’s a gutter joke in there somewhere!
Then just proceed with the recipe instructions. Here, we’ll be chopping the asparagus first.
And we also add the asparagus right at the end of cooking time, so that our asparagus is only lightly cooked and retains its flavour and bite. Not dead as the dodo. Which is what you’ll get when you add the asparagus at the start.
Why add sodium bicarbonate when blanching green vegetables?
It’s all about the chlorophyll and the magnesium in your greens. Chlorophyl loves to ditch its magnesium when heated using acidic or neutral water. Without magnesium, chlorophyll gets dull and becomes a khaki colour.
By increasing the alkalinity of your cooking water, the sodium bicarbonate ensures that the magnesium in your chlorophyll remains intact.
Result = vibrant green.
Of course we stop the vegetables from cooking further by dropping them in ice cold water.
If cooked for too long, sodium bicarbonate does turn your vegetables to mush. But we don’t do that, do we? That’s why it’s called blanching. Right?
So now you know.
Shall we get our aprons on?
Visit the Risotto Masterclass page on LinsFood
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Asparagus Risotto Recipe (with British Asparagus)
- 1.5 litres chicken or vegetable stock
- 400 g carnaroli rice (or any risotto rice you can get)
- 1 small onion
- 1 small clove garlic
- 2 Tbsp EV olive oil
- 125 ml dry white wine (skip if you don't do alcohol)
- 125 g British asparagus (or any you can get)
- salt if needed
- 125 g British asparagus (or any you can get)
- ½ tsp of sodium bicarbonate
- pot of boiling water
- 2 Tbsp cold salted butter
- 60 g freshly grated grana padano or parmesan cheese
- juice and zest of 1 lemon
- more cheese
- freshly ground black pepper
- Place your stock, or water plus stockpots on high heat. Once it’s boiling, lower the heat down and leave it to simmer happily.
- While waiting for the stock, chop the onion and garlic up finely.
- Chop up both lots of the asparagus into 5cm/2″ lengths. Set aside.
- Heat the olive oil on low heat and sauté the onions for 2 minutes, stirring.
- Add the rice and coat with all that fat, stirring well. Toast the rice for 2 more minutes, until the edges turn translucent. But try not to let the onions or rice brown. Lower the heat if you have to.
- Increase the heat to medium and pour in the wine, stir, and leave to evaporate, stirring a little. Skip this step, if you don’t do alcohol.
- Add 1 cup of the simmering stock and stir gently. You can take a break, it doesn’t need to be round and round constantly, just regular stirring while the stock evaporates.
- When the stock has evaporated, add half a cup more of the stock, stir, and repeat this process for 11 minutes. Yes, watch the clock or put your kitchen timer on. Read the basic risotto post for short cuts. Keep stirring your risotto every minute or so.
- At the 11-minute mark, add the chopped and puréed asparagus, stir and continue cooking.
- Check the rice at the 13-minute mark. It should be just about done, depending on your rice, and the heat. Is it cooked – soft on the outside with just a bite in the middle? Is the risotto looking creamy, like a thick version of rice pudding? If it is, it’s done. If it’s not, add 1/4 cup stock, and stir. When that stock has been absorbed, check again. You shouldn’t really need to cook more than 15-17 minutes. The type of rice will affect the cooking time, hence the extra time.
- Check the seasoning – does it need salt? Add some if you think it does, and stir it in.
- Take your risotto off the heat. Stir in the butter and the cheese and stir it all in thoroughly and vigorously for a whole 30 seconds. The mantecatura, remember?
- Cover and leave to rest for 2 minutes.
- Grate more cheese over, the lemon zest, lemon juice and lots of freshly ground black pepper.
Asparagus Purée (while the risotto is cooking)
- Bring the water to a boil with the 1/2 tsp of sodium bicarbonate.
- Drop half the chopped asparagus (125g/3 oz) and cook for 2 minutes.
- Drain, reserve the cooking water, and rinse in cold water or drop into a bowl of ice water.
- Purée in a blender with some of the cooking liquid, until it’s all smooth.
- Add to the risotto in step 9 above.