September 1, 2005 2:05 AM | By Adam Roberts | 8 Comments

How To Make Asparagus Risotto

I think it's easy and rewarding to make asparagus risotto. The season of asparagus is, I suppose, over (one website says it starts mid-April and ends two months later; which, using my calculator, means: it's over) but you can still find it in your grocery store, I bet. I did. So can you. And you should buy some because this risotto's pretty easy and fun to make. Maybe this picture will entice you:


The recipe comes from The River Cafe cookbook (the one in London, not the New York one) and you'll need the following:

2 lbs asparagus, trimmed
1 qt Chicken Stock (though I wish I had just a drop more)
coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 small red onion, peeled and very finely chopped
2 Tbs unsalted butter
3 Tbs olive oil
1 1/2 cups risotto rice (Arborio rice is what I used)
1/3 cup vermouth
3/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan

(1) So heat the chicken stock and check for seasoning. You don't want to bring it to a boil or it will evaporate while you do everything else. Just warm it up. But make sure to season because if it's not salty enough, your risotto will be bland.

(2) Cut the tips off the asparagus and keep to one side. Chop the tender parts of the stalks into approximately 1-inch pieces.


(3) Blanch the asparagus tips for 2 minutes (in boiling salted water) and then blanch the stalks for about 3 minutes. In a blender pulse the stalks with a ladle of stock:


(See, I really like this step because instead of having those unattractive stalks in the end product it gets all mushed up and incorporated into the risotto itself.)


(4) In a heavy saucepan, cook the onion in half the butter and the olive oil over a low heat for about 10 minutes until soft.


(5) Add the rice and cook gently, stirring, for 2 minutes to coat the rice with the oil.


[So here's your set-up for what follows. You should have your risotto rice pot right next to the heated broth and have your ladle ready. The next part is what separates the men from the boys, the ladies from the girls and the transgendered from the bi-curious.]


(6) Start to add the stock, ladle by ladle, stirring constantly, allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next. Continue until the rice is al dente, usually about 20 minutes.


[Here's where I entered a bit of a crisis: about 15 minutes in, almost all the broth was gone and the rice wasn't nearly cooked enough. I somehow was able to save the day by lowering the heat a lot and rationing off the rest of the broth (that was the only broth I had) but if I were you I'd have more broth on hand. Make sure to taste as it gets close to 20 minutes to see how cooked the rice is.]

(7) So once the rice is al dente, add the stalk puree, vermouth, asparagus tips, the rest of the butter, and the Parmesan. Stir a bit and it turns a fun green color:


That's it! Now just plate it up and grate some more Parmesan on top. Here it is up close:


It really captures the essence of asparagus; what more could you want from a risotto? Plus it goes great with white wine. And tomorrow, with the leftovers, I might make fried risotto balls. Pending cholesterol results, naturally. (Are you tired of me talking about that yet?) Happy risotto making!


Wow - that's a very, very green risotto! I've made asparagus risotto before - but not with mixed asparagus. Must try! And YOU should try my ruby-red risotto, for contrast. It's made with beets, and absolutely delicious.

You don't want to add more broth than the recipe calls for as it can get too concentrated or overly salty. If you need more liquid, just use water.

Looks really good. I may try this the next time I make risotto. I like the fact that it uses the tougher parts of the asparagus.

uh....Dude.....I don't think so.

1) The wine goes in right after you saute your rice with the aromatics.
2) 1 cup of arborio, carnaroli or vianano will take 5-6 cups of broth. You had waaaay too much rice to liquid.
3) You want to *enjoy* that asparagus! By all means cut it up but season it and saute it gently so it has the lovely, bright green god gave it. Or grill it so it has marvelous charred flavor. Then toss it into your risotto in the last few minutes with your cheese and herbs so you can see it and enjoy it and taste it and you won't have to swallow that khaki, cakky glop!

What's the stuff floating around in it that looks like vanilla bean?

I had to come back and apologize. I didn't mean that to sound so nasty. I just love risotto and I love asparagus and I didn't know anything that color could happen when you put two otherwise wonderful things together.

Sorry - some of those pix look like stills from "The Exorcist" puke scene. I'm with Rainey - add the asparagus at the end...still adds a bit of color but not so baby diaper-ish. Also try Vialone Nano rice Ferron if you can find it - love this stuff for risottos. I usually add wine after the rice has toasted in the oil and then add a bit at the end, too.

I made a similiar risotto with pesto on August 25th. I find that a lower flame always helps during those crucial 20-25 minutes. Did the recipe instruct to add the vermouth after the chicken stock had been absorbed? When I prepare my risotto (with white wine) I usually use that first as one of my liquids, then I continue with the simmering stock.

I agree with Rainey about adding the asparagus towards the end, however, I still like what you've done. It gives it a monsterous kind of feel, but in the good way! In all seriousness, I think some people would prefer your method over having less processed asparagus. I've never heard of fried risotto balls, and i'm extremely intrigued.

Made my first batch of risotto just last night. And like yours, mine was none to pretty but boy was it delish. Just because I'm hard-headed, I'm gonna try warm-overs before I resort to the arancini, which looks positively scrumptious. I've just never had that much luck with deep frying unless whatever I'm frying is coated with panko (Japanese bread crumbs).

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