I’ve mentioned before that risotto is a fairly common dish in our house in various forms, such as using up leftovers or with lots of comforting roast squash. At this time of year, I find a lemon risotto with some nice seasonal vegetables makes for a perfect midweek dinner. The freshness of the lemon is so fitting for spring, somehow, and at the moment, any excuse to have some asparagus is good.
I know asparagus and lemon risotto is possibly something you’ve seen before, and I don’t claim this as the most original recipe by any means, but that doesn’t stop it from being tasty, which is definitely is. Sometimes things are popular for a reason, and I think that’s definitely the case with the flavors in this risotto. But all the more reason to try it, if it’s a winning combination! Here I’ve combined asparagus, zucchini/courgette and leek alongside the core risotto, but you could easily mix this up with other spring vegetables that you may have, such as peas or arugula/rocket. It’s worth not having anything with too strong a flavor, though, so it doesn’t take away from that great lemon flavor.
Making this is very similar to most risottos, with just a couple of slight variations – I prefer to cook the spring vegetables first then set them aside to add them back at the end as I find this keeps them fresher and retains more flavor rather than becoming washed out cooking in with the stock. I have also not put any wine in this risotto since there’s quite a bit of lemon and I’d rather the lemon flavor come through since it works so well in the overall dish. Other than that, it’s the same great combination and method of cooking onions and garlic, add the rice then stock a little at a time until absorbed and the rice cooks. It doesn’t take long to make and while you do need to watch it a bit, it can easily be left for a few minutes here and there if you need to do other things.
This is a delicious way to enjoy risotto as the weather gets warmer as the flavors are wonderfully fresh. It’s also a great way to make the most of your spring produce (I know, it’s a bit of a theme recently but it’s so nice to have!), so I hope you’ll make it and enjoy.
- 4-6 spears of asparagus
- ½ large zucchini/courgette
- 1 leek (or ½ large)
- 1½tbsp/15g butter
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ onion
- 1-2 cloves of garlic, depending on size
- 1½ cups/300g arborio risotto rice
- 3 cups light stock
- salt and pepper
- juice and zest of ½ lemon, or more to taste
- ½cup/10g grated parmesan
- Cut the asparagus and zucchini into small chunks, and slice and halve the leek.
- Heat 1tbsp of the butter in a pan over a medium heat and add the asparagus, zucchini and leek. Cook, stirring regularly until softened, around 3-4 mins, then remove from pan and set aside.
- Dice the onion and finely dice or crush the garlic.
- Add the remaining butter and oil to the pan. Soften onion 2-3 mins, add garlic, cook another 2-3 mins until onion starting to brown slightly.
- Add rice and cook briefly to ensure well coated in oil/butter mixture. Add about half of the grated lemon zest, some salt and pepper.
- Add stock a bit at a time (around ½ to 1 cup at a time), adding more as the last is absorbed. Stir now and again as it cooks - I generally only stir as liquid is absorbed initially but then a little more towards the end when it tends to stick to the bottom more. In all it takes around 20mins.
- Once all the stock is absorbed, check rice is cooked (if not then add a little more stock) then add the remaining lemon zest, lemon juice and add back the asparagus, zucchini and leek.
- Add parmesan and stir well.
Sharing with Foodie FriDIY, Foodie Friends Friday and Frugal Friday.