Pastas and other grains/ Vegetarian Mains

Spring Vegetable Risotto


Spring Vegetable Risotto

Risotto is medium-grain rice (traditionally Italian-grown Arborio) cooked with hot broth and stirred constantly to turn its starch into a creamy sauce. Asparagus and leeks are the classic combination for risotto. To keep the asparagus from turning into mesh, I cooked it first until its crisp-tender, transferred to the plate and stirred it into the rice just before the serving. Adding a splash of lemon juice and the gremolata added an extra round of flavors. To make this dish vegetarian, replace the chicken broth with vegetable broth. Onions can be substituted for the leeks (2 minced medium onions (2 cups). At the end of cooking, you may have up to a cup of broth left over. This risotto has fresh yet complex taste with vegetables that retain some crisp bite. 

Serves 4-6

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 35 minutes



  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon finally grated zest from 1 lemon


  • 1 pound asparagus, tough ends snapped off and spears cut into 1/2 inch thick pieces
  • 2 medium leeks, white and light green parts, washed and sliced thin (about 4 cups)
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth ( or use vegetable broth)
  • 3 cups water
  • 5 tablespoons good olive oil ( or can use butter)
  • salt and ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 Arbario rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
  • 2 teaspoon juice for serving


  1. For the Gremolata: Combine ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. For the Risotto: Boil broth and water in medium saucepan, cover and set over low heat to keep broth warm.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add asparagus spears, pinch of salt, and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until asparagus is crisp-tender, 4-6 minutes. Add peas and continue to cook 1 minute. Transfer vegetables to plate and set aside.
  4. Add 3 tablespoons oil in now-empty Dutch oven over medium heat. Add leeks, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until leaks are softened, 4-5 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring frequently, until grains are translucent around edges, about 3 minutes. Add wine and cook, stirring frequently, until fully absorbed, 2-3 minutes.
  5. When wine is fully absorbed, add  3 cups hot broth to rice. Simmer, stirring every 3 to 4 minutes, until liquid is absorbed and bottom of the pan is almost dry, about 12 minutes.
  6. Stir in about 1/2 cup hot broth and cook, stirring constantly, until absorbed, about 3 minutes; repeat with additional broth 3-4 times until rice is al dante. Off heat, stir in remaining tablespoon oil or butter, parmesan, and lemon juice; gently fold in asparagus and peas. If desired, add up to 1/4 cup additional hot broth to loosen texture of risotto.
  7. Serve immediately, sprinkling each serving with gremolata and parmesan cheese.


Adopted with changes from “Cooks illustrated” magazine, May/June, 2008 

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  • Reply
    April 14, 2014 at 12:07 pm

    this looks and sound gorgeous.

  • Reply
    Tasty Eats Ronit Penso
    April 14, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    This looks so fresh and light, unlike so many risotto dishes that are so very heavy. Perfect spring dish! 🙂

    • Reply
      April 14, 2014 at 4:58 pm

      Thanks! I feel like I am over the heavy dishes and want something light and fresh. Well, until next fall at least:)

  • Reply
    April 21, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    made this – it is delicious!!!!

    • Reply
      April 21, 2014 at 1:09 pm

      I am so glad that you tried this recipe and liked it. Thanks!!!

  • Reply
    Becca @ Boy Meats {my veggie} World
    April 26, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    Yumm… this looks so good! I made a risotto similar to this recently, with peas, but I didn’t think to add asparagus!! I’ll have to add that next time 🙂

    • Reply
      April 26, 2014 at 1:52 pm

      Thanks! Asparagus adds a little crunch to this dish. Thanks for stopping by and checking my post:) Olga

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