Spring Risotto

I’m SO READY for it to be spring, and it’s slowing starting to warm up here. I really want to get into my garden and start planting fresh herbs and veggies I can integrate into my cooking! But until then, I’ll make due with recipes like this from Cooks Illustrated!


(if you have the ingredients for this, rock on and do it, but if you don’t, it’s still delicious and worth making without)

  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves, stems reserved
  • 2tablespoons minced fresh mint leaves, stems reserved
  • ½ teaspoon finely grated zest from 1 lemon


  • 1 pound asparagus, tough ends snapped off and reserved, spears cut on bias into ½-inch thick pieces
  • 2 medium leeks, white and light green parts halved lengthwise, washed, and sliced thin (about 4 cups)
  • 2 cups roughly chopped greens reserved (see note)
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (see note**)
  • 3 cups water
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 ½ cups Arborio rice (see note)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 ½ ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about ¾ cup), plus extra for serving
  • 2 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon


To make this dish vegetarian, replace the chicken broth with vegetable broth. Onions can be substituted for the leeks. If substituting onions, use 1 roughly chopped medium onion (1 cup) in the broth and 2 minced medium onions (2 cups) in the risotto. *At the end of cooking, you may have up to a cup of broth left over.* 

  1. For the Gremolata: Combine ingredients in small bowl and set aside.
  2. For the Risotto: Chop tough asparagus ends and leek greens into rough ½-inch pieces. Bring chopped vegetables, reserved parsley and mint stems, broth, and water to boil in large saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover, and simmer 20 minutes. Strain broth through fine-mesh strainer into medium bowl, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Return strained broth to saucepan; cover and set over low heat to keep broth warm.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in large Dutch oven over medium heat. When foaming subsides, add asparagus spears, pinch of salt, and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until asparagus is crisp-tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Add peas and continue to cook 1 minute. Transfer vegetables to plate and set aside.
  4. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in now-empty Dutch oven over medium heat. When foaming subsides, add leeks, garlic, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring frequently, until grains are translucent around edges, about 3 minutes. Add wine and cook, stirring frequently, until fully absorbed, 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. When wine is fully absorbed, add 3 cups hot broth to rice. Simmer, stirring every 3 to 4 minutes, until liquid is absorbed and bottom of pan is almost dry, about 12 minutes.
  6. Stir in about ½ cup hot broth and cook, stirring constantly, until absorbed, about 3 minutes; repeat with additional broth 3 or 4 times until rice is al dente.  [Remember, you may have broth left over. Don’t judge your risotto by broth remaining; instead, taste your risotto rice for the consistency you want!] 
  7. Off heat, stir in remaining tablespoon butter, Parmesan, and lemon juice; gently fold in asparagus and peas. If desired, add up to ¼ cup additional hot broth to loosen texture of risotto. Serve immediately, sprinkling each serving with gremolata and passing Parmesan separately.

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