This spring risotto with asparagus, peas, and lemon is easy to make and so deliciously creamy! Utilizing fresh spring produce, this asparagus and pea risotto makes the perfect main or side dish all spring long.
Why this recipe works
Asparagus is in season from February to June, with April being it’s peak time. Peas are also at peak in April, although you can enjoy them year round frozen. This spring risotto highlights fresh spring produce for a fresh and delightful meal.
Prepping the asparagus
- When picking asparagus you want to select firm and straight stalks, with the tips closed and compact.
- Trim the ends of the asparagus off, these are hard and unpleasant tasting. You can snap the ends off with your hands, the asparagus will snap at the natural point where the toughness begins.
- For the spring risotto, cut the asparagus at a diagonal angle about ¼ inch.
- You don’t want too big of asparagus pieces in the risotto so it can incorporate well and so you can get a few pieces in each spoonful.
- First, we will blanch the vegetables in boiling water. If using frozen peas, do not include them in this step. Blanching is cooking in boiling water, than immediately transferring to an ice bath to stop the cooking process.
- The asparagus and peas will blanch for 2 minutes in the boiling water. This will cook them to a tender al dente consistency. Since the pieces are small, I recommend using a spider or mesh strainer to remove the vegetables.
- Immediately transfer them to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. This will ensure you have perfectly cooked asparagus and peas, so they do not become mushy when added to the risotto. Set aside.
- The base of the spring risotto is: butter, shallots, garlic, and fresh tarragon.
- Sauté for 2-3 minutes, until the shallots begin to soften.
- Add in the arborio rice and toast for 2 minutes. When making risotto you want to use a short-grain rice, I prefer to use arborio. Due to it’s starchy nature, it absorbs less liquid giving you the perfect consistency for risotto.
- Add in the dry white wine and allow it to reduce by half.
- Warm broth in a sauce pan over low heat. I use chicken broth for a more hearty risotto flavor, but you can use vegetable broth as well if you want the risotto entirely vegetarian.
- Add 1 ladle of broth at a time to the risotto
- Continuously stir the risotto, until the liquid is absorbed. Then add another ladle and repeat.
- Do not add another ladle until the liquid is fully absorbed by the rice. You will continue to do this until the risotto is fully cooked through, about 4 cups of broth.
- Once the risotto is done absorbing the broth, add in freshly grated parmesan cheese and stir to combine.
- Next, add in the crème fraîche and stir to combine. The crème fraîche makes the risotto extra creamy and gives it a velvety texture.
- Add in the blanched asparagus and peas, stir to combine.
- Add in the lemon zest. The lemon brightens up the risotto and the acidity cuts through the richness of the risotto.
Once you’ve added all the ingredients, taste and adjust the kosher salt if necessary. The cheese is salty, so I wait until the end to add more.
Risotto is best served fresh and right away. I like to serve with extra fresh parmesan over the top. Love risotto? Try my mushroom sage risotto recipe!
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Spring Risotto with Asparagus and Peas
- 1 pound asparagus ends trimmed, cut into ¼ inch diagonals
- 1 cup fresh or frozen peas (see note)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons shallot minced
- 3 cloves garlic minced or pressed
- 1 teaspoon fresh tarragon chopped
- 1 ½ cups arborio rice
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth warmed in side pot
- ¼ cup crème fraîche
- ¼ cup freshly grated parmesan plus more for serving
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Bring a medium size pot of water to a boil. While the water is coming to a boil, fill a medium size bowl with 1 ½ cups of ice and fill halfway with cold water, set aside. Once the water has come to a boil, add in the chopped asparagus and fresh peas (if using frozen peas, do not add to the boiling water). Boil for 2 minutes, then using a spider or mesh strainer, immediately transfer to the ice bath. Set aside.
- In a high walled skillet over medium heat, add the butter. Once melted and bubbling, add in the shallots, garlic, fresh tarragon, a pinch of kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper. Sauté for 2-3 minutes until shallots begin to soften. Add in the arborio rice and toast for 2 minutes, by moving it around the skillet. Add in the white wine and allow to reduce by half, about 3 minutes.
- Slowly begin adding the broth one ladle at a time, continuously stirring. Do not add another ladle until the liquid has absorbed into the rice. Continue doing this until risotto is al dente and no longer absorbs liquid, about 16-18 minutes. Should be about 3 ½-4 cups of broth. You do not want it to be watery, risotto should be al dente.
- Once the risotto is done absorbing the broth, add in freshly grated parmesan cheese, the crème fraîche and stir to combine. Add in the blanched asparagus, peas, and the lemon zest. Stir until fully incorporated in the risotto. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
- Risotto is best served fresh and right away. I like to serve with extra fresh parmesan over the top.
- When picking asparagus you want to select firm and straight stalks, with the tips closed and compact. Trim the ends of the asparagus off, these are hard and unpleasant tasting. You can snap the ends off with your hands, the asparagus will snap at the natural point where the toughness begins.
- You can use fresh or frozen peas in this recipe. If using frozen peas, you do not have to blanch them with the asparagus.
- When making risotto you want to use a short-grain rice, I prefer to use arborio. Due to it’s starchy nature, it absorbs less liquid giving you the perfect consistency for risotto.
- Ensure broth is warmed before adding it to the risotto
- Add 1 ladle at a time, continuously stirring until liquid is absorbed then repeat.
- Risotto should be al dente when done cooking, not mushy.
- Continuously stirring allows the rice to cook evenly, keeps it from burning, and gives the risotto that creamy velvety texture.