Prep Time: About an hour - hands-on the whole time. I advise pouring yourself a glass of your favorite beverage and pressing play on your favorite podcast before starting.
Meal Notes: This savory, lemony risotto is my favorite version of the classic dish. It’s a bit healthier than other risotto recipes I’ve tried over the years, without sacrificing any flavor. Filling enough to work as a main dish, it also makes exceptionally nice meal, more than fit for special occasions, when paired with salmon (see teriyaki salmon) or steak (see pan broiled steak).
Source: Modified from Allrecipes.com
20 asparagus spears
4 cups chicken broth (or use vegetable broth for a vegetarian dish)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
1 celery stalk
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Prep the ingredients: Dice the onion and celery. Mince the garlic. Cut asaparagus into 1-2 inch pieces, trimming off and discarding the woody ends. Heat chicken broth in a saucepan over low heat, keeping at a simmer.
Steam the asparagus: Place a steamer insert* into a saucepan and fill with water just below the bottom of the steamer. Add asparagus and cover, steaming over low heat until just tender - about 5 minutes.
Begin the risotto: Heat olive oil in a large skillet or dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and celery, cooking and stirring until vegetables are tender - about 5 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper. Stir in garlic and rice. Continue stirring for about 5 minutes, until rice is lightly toasted.
Simmer the risotto: Pour white wine into rice mixture. Stir constantly for about 5 minutes, until liquid evaporates. Stir chicken broth - one ladleful at a time - into the rice, stirring constantly and always allowing liquid to absorb completely before adding more. It will take about 20 minutes for the rice to absorb all of the chicken broth. When it has, add the asparagus and stir.
Finish the risotto: Remove from heat and then mix in parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Serve immediately.
*Steamer Insert: If you don’t already own a steamer insert, they’re inexpensive (under $10) and well worth having on hand! Though fancier options certainly exist, I’ve owned this little version for years and use it very successfully on a regular basis to steam everything from carrots to broccoli to green beans to, as in this recipe, asparagus.