I am so ready for spring! Apparently, spring is not quite ready for us. We got a bit of snow on the first day of spring, and a bit more yesterday. Today, I am straddling the seasons with this Early Spring Risotto. I’m using asparagus and snow peas in this recipe, my favorite early spring vegetables. But it is still chilly here, and the creamy richness of the risotto is comforting, something we’ll need as we await our record setting snow to melt. Digging into this tasty dish can make you forget about the winter!
I do tend to think of risotto as a cold weather dish; stirring that risotto pot is a nice winter activity. But one of risotto’s great features is that it can be adapted to capture the flavors of the season. For instance, for a fall #SundaySupper, I shared Risotto with Butternut Squash, Chicken and Sage. So it was the perfect canvass on which to add some spring colors and flavors!
In addition to the asparagus and snow peas, I pureed some mint and garlic to use in the final stages of the risotto making. I’ve done a version of this risotto with a basil emulsion before, but somehow mint seems to say spring even more. But you could definitely substitute basil for the mint here.
The detailed instructions are in the recipe card, but a few quick risotto pointers if you haven’t made risotto or had much success with it. Many recipes say to cook the risotto for about 20 minutes, gradually ladling in the liquid. I find it takes closer to 40 minutes to get the risotto nice and tender. This isn’t a dish to be rushed! You don’t have to stir constantly, but don’t wander too far from the pot. Stir every few minutes with a good sturdy spoon. You can find recipes that will promise you faster risotto, but I’d gladly put mine up against those in a taste test.
Slow, gradual cooking is one key to great risotto. Another is awesome cheese! I use authentic Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grating the amount needed for the dish from a nice chunk of cheese. This is the kind of parm that is tasty to nibble by itself, enjoying that rich nutty flavor.
Once the risotto is nice and tender, stir in the cheese, followed by the mint and veggies. Serve this right away, risotto is at its best right after its done cooking. Enjoy with a crisp Italian white wine, and let the warmth of the dish reming you of balmy spring days to come!Print
Early Spring Risotto
This Early Spring Risotto features asparagus and snow peas to celebrate the season, and gets rich flavor from Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Cook Time: 50 mins
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: 6 servings 1x
- Category: Main
- Cuisine: Italian
- ½ cup mint
- 3 garlic cloves
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 2 extra tbsps olive oil
- 1 ½ cup sweet onions such as Vidalia, chopped
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 2 cups arborio rice
- 7 cups vegetable broth
- 1 bunch asparagus, rough ends trimmed, the remainder cut into pieces of about 2 inches
- 2 cups snap peas, ends trimmed, pods cut in half
- ¾ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, plus extra to pass at table
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- salt and pepper to taste
- Puree the mint, garlic and ¼ cup of olive oil in a food processor. Set aside for later use.
- Bring the broth to a gentle boil and then lower the heat to keep it warm, on burner handy to where you’ll be cooking the risotto.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in sturdy pot for making the risotto. Add the onion and sauté in the olive oil on medium heat until it softens, about 5 minutes.
- Pour in the rice, and stir to get it all well coated with the onions and oil. Cook for about one minute, then stir in the wine. Stir frequently, and cook until the wine is pretty well absorbed.
- Once the wine has been absorbed, it’s time to begin gradually adding the stock to to pot. Add one cup of stock to the rice, and stir frequently. I keep it around medium heat, but go a bit higher if things seem to be going very slow, then lower the heat if it starts boiling.
- When the first cup of broth is absorbed, add another. This process continues until the stock is used or mostly used, and the rice is getting tender. You need to be stirring frequently (i.e. every couple of minutes). I find the rice takes about 40 minutes to get nice and tender.
- Steam the vegetables while keeping an eye on the risotto. The steaming time will vary based on the thickness of the asparagus, about 3 minutes of steaming ought to do for medium asparagus. When the veggies are done, drain and rinse with cold water to keep them from cooking more, then drain again and set aside to add to the risotto later.
- After about 40 minutes and all the liquid has been stirred into the risotto, test the risotto. It should be tender but still a bit firm, similar to al dente pasta. You can stir in a half cup of water if you need to soften it a bit more.
- When the rice is ready, turn the heat down to medium low, and stir in Parmigiano Reggiano and a tablespoon of olive oil. Once the cheese has been incorporated, stir in the veggies and mint puree. Cook on low for a minute or two so the cheese melts and the flavors are incorporated. Add a generous grind or two of pepper and stir in the lemon juice. Add a bit of salt to taste if you desire, but with the cheese you don’t need much if any additional salt. Enjoy!
Be sure to check out all the tasty creations from the #SundaySupper bloggers!
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Looks so good! I’m adding asparagus to my grocery list for sure.
David, this is one gorgeous risotto! And perfect to usher in the new season!!!
Sam @ PancakeWarriors
Risotto – the classic dish that just screams slow down and eat me slowly and enjoy ever bite! I just love this dish 🙂 It’s a bit time consuming to make risotto but worth every minute. The asparagus is a great addition
Thanks Sam. Definitely worth the effort!
DB, Foodie Stuntman | Crazy Foodie Stunts
A very creative twist with the herb pureé. I’ll have to try it.
Thanks, DB, it does add some nice flavor!
Looks wonderful with the asparagus! Very Springlike!
I have been afraid to give risotto a try, but you make it sound easy and this recipe makes me want to try! Thanks!
It’s worth the effort, Terri! It’s really not too hard, takes a little time, but it’s hard to go too wrong.
Wendy, A Day in the Life on the Farm
Great minds David…I also made a spring vegetable risotto. I was looking to see what wine you paired yours with. I am using this dish for my #WinePW post in a couple of weeks.
I need to check out your post & compare notes, Wendy! I believe I paired this with an Italian white, don’t recall the details. I usually don’t add too much wine detail on SS posts.
Valerie Cathell Clark
This beautiful risotto is right up my alley! I love risotto and for spring when the peas are in season –this is a favorite!
Thanks Valerie! I’m a big fan of peas, especially this time of year.
I love risotto anytime of year! The creamy texture is right up my alley and yours looks delicious!
Can’t go wrong with a delicious risotto recipe like this! Yum!
Tammi @Momma's Meals
I love your early spring risotto! I also love the addition of mint. I too believe Risotto comes out the best the longer you cook it. Here is to all of that snow melting!
I love risotto and this looks wonderful, thanks for sharing!
What a delightful dish! I adore all the flavors in your perfect risotto!
Love this winter/spring recipe! Your asparagus looks fresh and crisp, not boiled into oblivion. I’m gazing at it instead of cleaning up the kitchen from my newest recipe…
I haven’t had a good bowl of risotto in a while and now I am totally craving it!
Julie @ Texan New Yorker
This looks so awesome, I love risotto! I just bought some brown rice specifically made for risotto from Eataly and I’m still trying to figure out what kind of risotto to make with it – after seeing your post, I’m thinking maybe some spring veggies would be good! Thanks for the inspiration!
That sounds good, Julie! Interesting, I don’t think of brown rice with risotto. I did make it once or twice with something other than arborio, blanking on what it was called. Came out well though.
susan // the wimpy vegetarian
I love asparagus risotto and love that you included snap peas. Really, really lovely dish!
Cindys Recipes and Writings
Spring and your risotto. Two things I can be patient for and enjoy the outcome!
I LOVEEEE risotto and definitely don’t make it enough!
I should probably make it even more too!
Dear David, what a wonderful spring dish. This sounds fantastic.
Thanks Catherine, we sure enjoyed it!
Lauren @ Sew You Think You Can Cook
My husband has been asking for risotto – guess what’s finally on the menu this week!? Great recipe.