Plenty of creamy brie and a good squeeze of lemon are the secrets in making this asparagus risotto so delicious! Substantial enough to enjoy as a vegetarian main and simple enough to have a side, this is a recipe you need to have in your back pocket.
As someone who cooks a lot of Mediterranean and Italian foods every week, I am always thinking about new ideas for dinner incorporating regional flavors. You could say that’s my job! 😉
Sometimes I’m spinning classics, like with my recent recipe tests of Shrimp Bisque and Pork Milanese, and others I’m working on what’s fresh and what I can make from my head, as with my recent tests of Corn and Farro Salad and Grilled Zucchini with Ricotta.
No matter what though, every recipe goes through rounds of tests, at least two and sometimes more before being ready for photos. (Recipes which have potential but need more rounds than usual might take months or more to get posted since they get put aside for other ideas and pulled out again when I’m ready. That’s where having a well organized notebook comes in handy!)
Today’s recipe is a risotto incorporating creamy cheese and fresh asparagus. It’s loosely based on previous versions I’ve made and my general knowledge of risotto along with fresh and colorful produce I saw at the market.
What do you need?
- Asparagus – One bunch (~15). Look for firm stalks with well formed tips.
- Short Grained Rice – Arborio is the easiest one to find in US shops.
- Shallot/Garlic – This will be the base of your flavor.
- White Wine/Stock – Wine first and then you will start adding the warm stock.
- A Wedge of Brie – This is a place for a standard (not fancy) cheese. You want flavor, but you will lose a lot of the more subtle notes of a ‘higher class’ brie when you melt it. Save that for a cheese plate.
Tip: The recipe calls for vegetable stock (since this is a vegetarian recipe). If you are not a vegetarian, feel free to use chicken stock instead.
How to make this
To make asparagus risotto, cook the rice with wine and hot stock until creamy with still a little bite. Then melt in the cheese and stir in the blanched asparagus. Serve hot.
Start by sauteing the shallots and garlic until they are soft then sauteing the rice until it is a little toasty and coated in oil.
2. Cook the Rice
While you saute, heat up the stock.
Then start with the wine – stir that in and let it absorb. And now ladle in the stock a ladle or two at a time. Stirring as needed and adding more as the rice gets dry.
Tip: Don’t add it all at once, but don’t go too slow either. All at once and you’re just making rice, too slow and you will have to stir constantly.
3. Prep the Asparagus
It’s important to cook the asparagus separately! This way you can make sure it is perfectly cooked and the rice perfectly cooked and then you marry them together. Perfect!
Break off the ends and cut it into short lengths. Now cook until crisp-tender in boiling water. When done, drain and plunge into ice water to stop the cooking. You can do this ahead or while the rice is cooking.
4. Finish Up
Once the rice is almost to the tenderness you want, add the brie and melt into the dish. This will take a minute or two.
While it’s melting, grate in some lemon zest, add some juice, and a little fresh thyme. Now stir everything together very vigorously which will really bring out the creaminess of the risotto.
Tip: This is called mantecatura and is one of the secrets of great risotto.
Add in the asparagus and warm it through from the heat of the rice. Eat!
If you try my recipe for Lemon Asparagus Risotto, I would love to hear from you in the comments with your experience and rating! And I’m happy to answer any questions you might have.
– Stay Safe, Annemarie
Brie and Lemon Asparagus Risotto
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 cup arborio rice
- 3/4 cup white wine
- 1 bunch asparagus
- 4-6 oz brie, rind removed and diced
- 2 tsp lemon zest
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
- kosher salt and black pepper
- Heat the Stock: Pour the stock into a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until hot and steaming. Reduce heat to low.
- Saute: Add olive oil to a large skillet or saucier. Warm over medium heat, then add shallot and a pinch of kosher salt. Saute until they are soft and a bit golden, 3-4 minutes.
- Add garlic and saute for another 30 seconds.
- Cook the rice: Stir in the rice and saute until it smells toasty and it's coated in the oil. (Add a little more oil if needed.) This will take 1-2 minutes.
- Add the wine and bring to boil. Let the wine almost completely cook down and get absorbed by the rice, 1-2 minutes
- Bring the heat to low and start adding the stock. Add by 1-2 ladles at a time, and keep nearby, stirring occasionally, adding more stock as the previous amount gets absorbed.
- Continue this until the rice is tender but still with a bit of chew (not mushy) and creamy. about 25 minutes.
- Prepare the asparagus: While the rice is cooking, break off the ends of the asparagus and cut into 2 inch lengths.
- Set out a bowl of ice water.
- Bring a saucepan of water to a boil, add some kosher salt, and then cook the asparagus for 2 minutes. Drain and plunge into ice water.
- Melt the brie: Add the chopped cheese to the cooked risotto. Stir until the cheese is all melted.
- Finish up: Stir in the lemon zest, juice, and thyme. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir everything together vigorously for a minute or two. This will make the risotto very creamy!
- Lastly, stir in the asparagus and warm it through. Serve.
- Butter: Stirring in a couple tablespoons of butter at the end is a nice, but optional, touch and will give you a creamier dish.
- Pressure Cooker: To use a pressure cooker, make the asparagus as directed above. Then use the saute function for the shallot and garlic. Continue sauteing, adding the rice and toasting it, and then the wine - letting it absorb. Pour in the stock and set the cooker for 5 minutes at high pressure. Once the time is done, hit quick release and take off the cover once you can. Then continue with the recipe as written to finish up.
- Additions: Toppings which are great here include some extra fresh herbs, such as basil or parsley, or a handful or two of microgreens (as seen in the photos).