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Asparagus, Pea, and Leek Risotto

Asparagus, Pea, and Leek Risotto

This risotto recipe is creamy, filling, and showcases some of Spring’s most delicious fresh vegetables, including asparagus, peas, and leeks. The added step of enhancing the broth with some of the unused parts of the vegetables and herbs gives the rice a rich, complex background flavor. The final addition of the gremolata results in a bright, burst of flavor.

Serves 4 as a main course or 6 as a side or first course.

Recipe adapted fromCooks Illustrated

Ingredients: 

Gremolata: 

  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley (reserve stems for broth)
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh mint (reserve stems for broth)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest

Risotto: 

  • 1 pound asparagus, tough stems snapped off and chopped into ½ inch pieces, spears sliced at a bias into ½ inch pieces
  • ½ cup peas (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 leek, whites and light green parts halved lengthwise, washed and thinly sliced (about 2 cups) and greens roughly chopped into ½ inch (about 2 cups)
  • 2 medium garlic cloves minced (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 ½ arborio rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 4 cups vegetable broth or low sodium chicken broth
  • 3 cups water
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 ½ ounces grated parmesan cheese (roughly ¾ cup)
  • Salt & pepper

Directions: 

For the gremolata:
Combine minced parsley, mint, and lemon zest in a small bowl. Set aside.

To prep your broth: 

  1. Add the chopped rough asparagus stems, chopped leek greens, mint and parsley stems, broth and water in a stock pot or dutch oven.
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce to medium-low heat and partially cover. Let simmer for 20 minutes. You can start cooking the vegetables for the risotto as the broth is simmering.
  3. Strain broth through fine-meshed strainer into a medium-sized bowl, making sure to squeeze as much liquid as possible out of the vegetables.
  4. Return the broth to the stock pot, cover and keep warm over low heat.

For the risotto: 

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of butter on medium heat in a dutch oven or large saute pan until foaming subsides. Add asparagus, season with salt and pepper and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until asparagus is tender but still crisp. Add peas and cook for 1 more minute until heated through. Transfer vegetables to bowl and set aside.
  2. Heat 3 tablespoons of butter on medium heat in your dutch oven or large saute pan until foaming subsides. Add leeks, garlic, ½ teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until leeks are softened, about 4-6 minutes.
  3. Add arborio rice and stir constantly until the rice grain edges are slightly translucent, about 3 minutes. Add wine, and cook, stirring frequently until the wine is absorbed, about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add three cups of your warm broth to the rice. Bring to a simmer and stir every few minutes until all liquid is absorbed, about 12 minutes. 
  5. Add ½ cup of broth to rice and cook, stirring constantly, until all liquid is absorbed, about 3 minutes. Repeat this step 3 or 4 more times until all broth has been added and rice is al dente.
  6. Move the pan off the heat and add the remaining tablespoon of butter, lemon juice, and Parmesan to the rice, stirring to combine. Gently fold in asparagus and peas.
  7. Dish onto serving plates, top with a sprinkle of gremolata, a little extra Parmesan and enjoy!