This Lemon Parmesan Risotto with Asparagus is a beautifully bright spring take on a classic dish. It's delicious served on its own or topped with seared salmon or shrimp.
Risotto is one of my very favorite dishes, both to make and to eat. While it does take a bit of time and attention, I find the process of making risotto (especially with a glass of wine in hand) to be incredibly calming. And while this isn't a dish I would recommend on a busy weeknight, it is surprisingly simple to make.
Creamy and comforting, this springtime risotto has a beautiful punch of acid from fresh lemon juice, an earthy bite from roasted asparagus and a rich finish from the parmesan. It's fantastic eaten on its own or topped with seared salmon, shrimp or scallops. Enjoy!
What is risotto?
Risotto is a northern Italian rice dish that is cooked in wine and broth until it is creamy and silky. Traditional risotto doesn't require any milk or cream to achieve its creamy texture. It's often made with butter, wine and aromatics and finished with cheese such as parmesan.
What kind of rice should I use to make risotto?
While technically you can use almost any type of rice to make risotto, the most popular rice (and my personal choice) is Arborio rice.
Arborio is a short grain rice that is able to absorb a significant amount of liquid while maintaining its texture. It results in a creamy, hearty risotto that is most similar to traditional recipes.
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- Dutch oven or heavy bottom pot: I love using my Le Creuset Dutch Oven to cook the risotto in.
- Large pot: to heat broth in
- Cheese grater: I love this Oxo box grater.
- Broth or stock: The quality of your stock or both definitely makes a difference in the overall flavor or the dish. If possible, I recommend using homemade chicken or vegetable broth, which you can make in the slow cooker overnight. However, store bought broth or stock will also work. You can also use bouillon cubes or Better than Bouillon stock base.
- Butter: Salted or unsalted will work.
- Shallots or Onion
- Lemon: You'll use the zest and juice.
- Arborio rice: I recommend Rice Select Arborio Rice.
- Parmesan cheese: I highly recommend grating your own parmesan, rather than buying it pre-shredded. It will result in a much better texture and flavor.
- Salt and black pepper
- Fresh herbs (optional): I like garnishing this dish with some fresh parsley or thyme.
The rice is essentially cooked in the broth so you need it to be hot before adding to keep the temperature of the dish warm enough. If you add cold broth to the rice it will bring the temperature down and significantly slow down the cooking process as well as impact the overall texture of this dish.
While technically you can use most short grain varieties of rice to make risotto, I highly recommend sticking with the traditional Arborio rice. This will result in the most creamy and hearty risotto.
I can be. While rice does not contain any gluten, products that do contain gluten can often be added into packaged rice.
To make this recipe gluten free you'll want to be sure to purchase both gluten free arborio rice and gluten free broth if you're not making your own.
This can come down to personal preference but generally you want the rice to be cooked until it is tender, but not mushy, with a bit of a bite.
I personally prefer risotto that isn't overly dry (though some do). Ideally when you serve it there should be a slight ring of thick liquid that surrounds the rice.
Risotto is a dish that is best eaten fresh. So I do not recommend making it ahead of time.
This vegetarian dish is fabulous on its own for a meatless meal. I also love serving it with crispy skin pan seared salmon, and it's great with shrimp or scallops as well.
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Made this Lemon Parmesan Risotto with Asparagus recipe? Let me know what you think in the comments!
Lemon Parmesan Risotto with Asparagus
- Dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot with a lid for the risotto
- Large pot for warming the broth
- Cheese grater
- 6-8 cups broth or stock You can use store bought or homemade. Chicken or vegetable will work.
- 1 lb asparagus
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 shallots, minced Can substitute with 1 small white onion
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 cups Arborio rice
- 1 lemon, zest and juice divided
- 1 cup white wine Choose a wine you would want to drink.
- 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
- fresh parsley optional, for garnish
- shaved parmesan optional, for garnish
- salt and black pepper
- Pour broth (or stock) into a large pot. Heat on the stove on medium heat until hot and simmering. Then turn the heat down to low to keep warm while the risotto is cooking.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Wash the asparagus, then break off the woody ends. Place on a baking sheet and drizzle with a little olive oil. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and about ½ tsp of lemon zest. Toss to coat then bake at 400 degrees F for 10-15 minutes until bright green and tender crisp. *Note: The time it takes to cook is dependent on the thickness of the asparagus. Begin checking for doneness around the 8 minute mark to prevent soggy asparagus.* Remove from the oven and chop into 1 to 2 inch pieces. Then set aside.
- While the asparagus is roasting begin making the risotto. Melt 2 tbsp of butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Then add in minced shallots and garlic. Cook on medium heat for about 3-5 minutes until softened and fragrant. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and the zest of 1 lemon. Then add 2 cups of Arborio rice. Stir to combine and cook over medium high heat for about 2 minutes. Pour in the white wine and cook over medium high heat for a couple of minute, stirring continuously, until most of the wine has been absorbed. Then turn the heat down to medium and ladle in ½ cup of the hot broth, stirring until it has been mostly absorbed. Continue adding broth, about a half to 1 cup at a time stirring after each addition. When the rice is tender and most of the broth has been absorbed remove the pot from the heat and stir in the grated Parmesan cheese. Then add in a couple of tbsp of lemon juice and a pinch of salt and pepper. Then mix in the roasted asparagus pieces to warm through. At this point you'll want to taste the risotto and you can add additional lemon juice and salt and pepper according to your personal preference.
- Ladle the hot risotto into dishes and top with some fresh parsley, shaved parmesan and a scrunch of black pepper (if desired). Serve hot and enjoy!