Asparagus and Lemon Risotto

Oh, Spring is here and I am so happy. Our Riverdog Farm box had green garlic and asparagus this week. My backyard garden is going wild with happy veggies. And trees all over town are still dripped with ripe Meyer Lemons. I love this time of year!

I am a sucker for risotto, which is for me the ultimate comfort food. Some people avoid making risotto because of all the stirring, but I encourage you to try it at home, if you don't already. This asparagus and lemon risotto from Alice Waters is a simple and delicious taste of spring.

I must warn you I am a fiend for asparagus these days and have an asparagus and nettle tart post coming soon. If you love asparagus as much as I do, check out these inspiring recipes at Dash and Bella and Crumpets and Cakes.

adapted from the Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters

  • 1 pound asparagus spears
  • 2 stalks of green garlic (or Waters calls for 1 small yellow onion)
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 4-5 cups chicken broth 
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • salt
  • Parmesan
  • Chervil or Parsley

Risotto is thoroughly infused with the flavor of whatever broth you use. Try a homemade broth if you can - it makes all the difference.

Wash asparagus and trim off rough ends. Slice spears at a diagonal.  Set aside.

Zest one lemon. Squeeze juice. Set aside zest and juice.

Pour broth into sauce pan, heat, and maintain a low simmer.

Thinly slice green garlic. Or if you are using onion, finely chop.  

Heat 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed 2 1/2 - 3 1/2 quart sauce pan. Add garlic/onion and cook until soft, but not browned. Then add Arborio and stir to coat the rice. Cook for a few minutes until the rice becomes slightly translucent. 

Add wine and lemon zest. Stir and cook for a few more minutes until the wine is completely absorbed. 

Use a ladle to add one cup of warmed broth to the risotto pan. Also add salt (how much salt depends on how salty your broth is already). Stir and bring mixture to a vigorous simmer. Don't let the rice absorb all the broth. Waters suggests letting the rice "thicken" with the broth, then to add another 1/2 cup.  (My original risotto guru, Patricia Wells, suggests keeping at least a "thin veil" covering the cooking rice at all times.) Continue to add 1/2 cup of broth at a time and stir rice frequently.

About 10 minutes after you first added began to add broth, toss the asparagus into the cooking rice. Continue to stir and add broth as before until the rice is tender with a slight bite in the center.

When risotto is just done, add 1/2 of the lemon juice, 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, and 1 tablespoon butter. Stir vigorously to incorporate ingredients, then let it rest for a minute or two. At this point add more salt and/or lemon juice if necessary, and freshly ground pepper to taste. 

Serve in a heaping mound and top with freshly chopped parsley or chervil. Enjoy!


  1. This looks super tasty! The garnish on the final dish is perfect :D

    I am a complete asparagus fiend myself, so thank you so much for posting this recipe! I would love to try it :D

  2. I like your choice of comfort food....all these ingredients: wine, lemon, green garlic, asparagus sound so good....fresh and spring like...
    can't wait to read about your asparagus and nettle tart, as I've been trying to befriend this stinging beauty lately :)

  3. This sounds amazing and I can not wait to try it. Hopefully my better half read this and got inspired to start whipping it up without me. Maybe I'll have a surprise waiting for me?

  4. more asparagus recipes. yeah! i can't get enough. and thanks for the shout out. so nice to see crumpets and cakes as well. that is one of my most favorite tarts. i love the little asparagus community we've created.

  5. I've had this recipe flagged for ages to try....looks so good!

  6. I'm loving this little asparagus fan club, thank you for including me :)

  7. That is one of the prettiest risottos I have seen in a long time! I love the chervil. It's so dainty and spring-like! GREG

  8. Just made my first risotto ever using this recipe! Thanks for sharing. Paired beautifully with sparkling wine baked salmon in parchment. Lovely Easter dish.

  9. Rachel, that makes me so happy that you made your first risotto - I am honored. And your Easter meal sounds delish!

  10. I made this for dinner tonight with grilled chicken breast and it was so delicious....yummy supper :)

  11. M, I am so glad you liked the risotto. I guess we can't go wrong with Alice Waters!

  12. This was my FIRST risotto dish ever, I cooked it using fresh chicken broth my mom was so delicious! Thanks!!

  13. JC, I love hearing that you made your first risotto and that it was delicious!!
    And lucky you to have a mom who makes great broth. I hope you will now feel inspired to keep making risotto - the flavor combinations are endless and never too hard.


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