Last week I learned how to make asparagus risotto. I have made risotto before, but I was never quite sure I was doing it correctly. Watching cooking shows and reading cookbooks helped, but not as much as seeing Chef Aaron from Harmons Grocery making it and then trying it out for myself. This is my version – Vegan Asparagus Risotto.
Typically at the end of the long, slow cooking time, butter and cheese is added to give the risotto an extra creamy, rich texture. That adds a lot of flavor too. I knew I could probably make up for that by adding in other non-dairy ingredients when I was making this. I’ve included a few notes in the recipe below because I separated the risotto into half, and tried two different things. I’m still not quite sure which I liked the best. Basically I swapped the butter for extra virgin coconut oil, added some unsweetened almond milk, and a little nutritional yeast. I only did that to one half in case I took it in the completely wrong direction. Luckily it worked!
I am addicted to lemon in and on everything. I added finely grated lemon zest, a bay leaf, and lots of garlic while the risotto cooked. I used a really full-flavored vegetable stock as well. It definitely wasn’t lacking in flavor when I was finished with it. The thing I learned from Chef Aaron, too, was to add the asparagus at the very end of cooking time. I sliced one bunch into small rounds so they barely cooked in the latent heat when I took the risotto off the stove. Each bite had tender-crunchy sweet asparagus with the bright lemony rice. It was SO good.
If making risotto intimidates you like it did me, there is a fantastic step-by-step risotto tutorial on Noshon.it. It’s definitely worth checking out. It takes that scary “am I doing it right?” factor out of the equation.
p.s. I also included directions in the note section for making this into a more traditional risotto with butter and cheese.
Other springtime risotto recipes worth checking out:
Risotto with Shrimp and Asparagus from The Perfect Pantry
Pea and Lemon Risotto from Baked Bree
Summer Lemon Vegetable Risotto from Eats Well With Others
Vegan Mushroom Kale Risotto from With Food and Love
Spring Mushroom Risotto with Leeks and Peas from Tasty Yummies
Beet Risotto (with goat cheese!) from Healthy.Delicious.
Roasted Red Pepper Risotto with Spinach from Bev Cooks
Onion, Leek and Parm Risotto from Naturally Ella
Fava Bean and Fennel Risotto with Sautéed Radicchio from The Vintage Mixer
Spicy Coconut Risotto with Lime Shrimp from Foxes Love Lemons (dairy-free)
- 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 shallots, minced (about ¼ cup)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 pound (16 ounces) arborio rice
- ¾ to 1 cup white wine
- Zest and juice of one lemon
- 1 bay leaf
- 8-9 cups unsalted or low sodium vegetable broth or stock
- 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and thinly sliced
- sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- Pour broth or stock into a pan and bring just to a simmer.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and heat for 30-60 seconds until shimmering. Add the shallot and cook, stirring frequently, until it starts to soften. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more.
- Next add the rice. Cook, stirring constantly for about a minute then add the wine. Stir and cook while the wine absorbs into the rice. Add the bay leaf, lemon zest and juice.
- Ladle about 1 cup of broth into the pan. Cook, stirring constantly and letting the liquid be completely absorbed. The heat should be on medium to medium-low. Not too hot that it burns on the bottom. You want to cook it slowly so the starch from the rice is released and it turns creamy.
- Add another cup of hot stock and keep cooking and stirring. Repeat until rice is creamy and cooked through. It should not be mushy or crunchy, but al dente (to the tooth).
- Remove from heat and stir in the asparagus. Season well with salt and black pepper. Serve hot. Garnish with extra lemon zest, if desired.
-Al dente means the rice is not crunchy or mushy. It's right in the middle. If you do decide to add the optional ingredients listed above, start adding them in when the rice is still a little undercooked so the extra cooking time doesn't make the rice mushy.
-If you're not dairy-free and want to make a more traditional risotto, add 1-2 Tablespoons of butter and ½-3/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano right before you add the asparagus.