Spring Green Risotto

With asparagus season in swing now and bottom low prices I decided that a spring risotto would make a delicious Sunday dinner. This meal was gorgeous and full of color as well as great spring vegetables – leeks, peas, and asparagus. I loved all the brightly green vegetables against the creamy background. You could serve this as a side, but we ate it as the meal itself. It was filling and packed with spring flavors.

Someday I’m hoping to make this with asparagus from my garden, but so far we haven’t seen much of anything happening with the asparagus roots we planted back in March. I’ve been told that asparagus sometimes doesn’t produce until the second year, so maybe next year.

Sunflower Market was out of fennel, so I increased the other veggies a bit to compensate. Rather than using chives for garnish, I picked some garden fresh parsley from our yard. As a time saver, I cooked the asparagus for half the recommended time and skipped the ice bath. All of the vegetables were tender, crisp and so fresh tasting.

Spring Green Risotto
adapted from Ina Garten

  • 1 1/2 Tbs good olive oil
  • 1 1/2 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 3 1/3 c chopped leeks, white and light green parts
  • 1 1/2 c Arborio rice
  • 2/3 c dry white wine
  • 5 c simmering chicken or vegetable stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 1/4 lb. asparagus
  • 1 2/3 c frozen peas
  • 1 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 Tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/3 c mascarpone cheese
  • 1/2 c freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving

Heat the olive oil and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the leeks and saute for 5 to 7 minutes, until tender. Add the rice and stir for a minute to coat with the vegetables, oil, and butter.

Add the white wine and simmer over low heat, stirring constantly, until most of the wine has been absorbed. Add the chicken stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring almost constantly and waiting for the stock to be absorbed before adding more. This process should take 25 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the asparagus diagonally in 1 1/2-inch lengths and discard the tough ends. Blanch in boiling salted water for 4 to 5 minutes, until al dente. Drain and cool immediately in ice water.

When the risotto has been cooking for 15 minutes, drain the asparagus and add it to the risotto with the peas, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Continue cooking and adding stock, stirring almost constantly, until the rice is tender but still firm.

When the risotto is done, turn off the heat and stir in the mascarpone, lemon juice, and the Parmesan cheese. Set aside, off the heat, for a few minutes and serve hot with more Parmesan cheese.