This Asparagus Risotto recipe is a delicious celebration of spring! It is vibrant, lemony, and creamy, made with fresh asparagus, lemon, leeks, and basil. Video.

Asparagus Risotto in a bowl with a spoon.

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James Hollis

Oh, hello, new favorite vegetarian dinner! Last weekend, we made this Asparagus Risotto for Easter and topped it with mushrooms, and then last night, we had it again, just on its own- both were delicious!

Leeks, basil, and lemon give this Asparagus Risotto its flavor here, and we make it “creamy” by blending up some of the asparagus and basil into a puree that is folded in into risotto before serving— giving it a burst of color and flavor.

Why You’ll Love This!

  1. Fresh spring flavor (and color)! Leeks, asparagus, and basil give this dish vibrant spring flavor and brilliant green color.
  2. Deliciously creamy and satisfying. An indulgent, rich creamy texture.
  3. Very adaptable. Serve as a vegetarian dinner, or top with fish, seafood, or mushrooms. Vegan and gluten-free adaptable.
Asparagus risotto ingredients: asparagus. arborio rice, lemon basil olive oil and veggie broth.

Asparagus Risotto Ingredients

  • Asparagus bunch: You’ll need just under a pound. Look for fresh tips, and if size is an option, smaller spears work best here.
  • Arborio rice: An Italian short-grain rice that is a must for making creamy risotto!
  • Garlic and Leek: Add savory flavor and depth.
  • Extra Virgin Olive oil: for added richness.
  • Dry white wine: Optional, but adds acidity and is great for deglazing the pan.
  • Vegetable Broth: Store-bought or make your own. Feel free to sub chicken broth.
  • Fresh Herbs: Basil, or sub fresh flat leaf parsley or dill.
  • Fresh Lemon: Both lemon zest and lemon juice for zesty flavor!
  • Garnish: Lemon zest, basil ribbons, pecorino or parmesan cheese, toasted pine nuts (or other nuts or seeds), chili flakes for a little bite (Urfa biber is nice), leek oil, or a drizzle of olive oil.

Asparagus Risotto Instructions

Step 1: Prep the asparagus. Bring a small saucepan of water to boil. Cut the fibrous ends off the asparagus spears and discard. (You can tell where this is by breaking an end off with your fingers.) Cut pretty tips off (about 1 1/2 inches) and set these aside.

trimmed asparagus tips cut off.

Cut the “middles” into 1-inch pieces. Take 1 1/2 cups of “middles” and set aside for blanching. Add any remaining middles to the pile with pretty tips.

asparagus middles cut into 1-inch pieces.

Step 2: Blanch and blend. Blanch 1 1/2 cups of asparagus “middles” in a pot of boiling salted water until tender and vibrant, about 3-5 minutes, depending on their size. Drain, reserving 1 cup of cooking liquid.

blanch the cut asparagus in a pot of water.

Step 3. Make the asparagus pureethe key to the vibrant color! Blend the blanched asparagus with the cooking liquid, olive oil, and basil leaves until silky smooth, using an immersion blender or high speed blender. Set this asparagus puree aside. You’ll add this to the risotto at the very end.

immersion blender in pot making creamy asparagus basil sauce.

Step 4: Make the risotto (do this at the same time as the puree). Slice leeks into thin half-moons and rinse away any dirt using a strainer. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium. Add leeks, sautéing until soft, 5-6 minutes. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes until fragrant.

pot with leeks and arborio rice, stirring with wooden spoon.

Step 5: Add rice. Add arborio rice and stir one minute. Deglaze with white wine (if using) and cook the wine off. Add 1 cup of hot broth (a ladle works great for this), scraping up browned bits. Bring to simmer over medium-low, stirring occasionally. Let the rice absorb all of the broth.

a cup of hot veggie broth added to pot of leeks and arborio rice.

Step 6: Continue adding broth. Add 1 cup of hot broth at a time, letting the rice absorb it slowly each time. Stir often. When you add the last cup of broth, add the pile of asparagus tips, letting them cook for 3 minutes. Rice should be creamy, yet slightly al dente.

making asparagus risotto in large pot, stirring fresh asparagus into pot.

Step 7: Add the puree. Stir in blended asparagus “puree,” along with salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice.

pouring in green basil asparagus sauce to pot of risotto.

Step 8. Taste and adjust. Add pecorino here if desired for more depth of flavor. Heat gently over low to thicken if you like, but be careful not to cook too long or you’ll lose that vibrant color.

squeezing fresh lemon juice into pot of asparagus risotto.

Serve! Serve in bowls with pecorino cheese, lemon zest, and chili flakes, or a drizzle of optional leek oil. Garnish with fresh herbs like basil and parsley.

asparagus risotto served with basil, pine nuts, mushrooms, and lemon zest.

Serving suggestions

FAQs

Can I make Asparagus Risotto in an Instant Pot?

Yes, you can make asparagus risotto in an Instant Pot, reducing the stock to two cups. Blanch the asparagus separately on the stove, make the creamy sauce, adding both to the instant pot AFTER pressure cooking.

Can Asparagus Risotto be made vegan?

Yes, you could easily keep Asparagus Risotto vegan, leaving out the cheese, or subbing a vegan cheese. Drizzle with a little olive oil or make the leek oil!

What is arborio rice?

A high-starch, short-grain rice used for risotto. There are not too many substitutes that can replace the rice in the recipe! Calrose rice can be subbed.

Health Benefits of Asparagus

As one of the quintessential vegetables of spring, asparagus is not only delicious but also packed with health benefits!

  1. Rich in nutrients: Asparagus is a nutrient-dense food that is high in several important vitamins and minerals. It is an excellent source of fiber, folate, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin K, calcium, as well as chromium.
  2. Antioxidant properties: The vibrant green spears contain a variety of antioxidant compounds such as glutathione, flavonoids, and polyphenols. These antioxidants help neutralize cell-damaging free radicals, which plays a role in aging and many diseases.
  3. Heart health: Asparagus is particularly rich in folate, a B vitamin that can help regulate the level of the amino acid homocysteine in the blood. High levels of homocysteine are associated with an increased risk of heart disease.
  4. Digestive health: Thanks to its high fiber content, asparagus promotes good digestive health. Fiber also provides nourishment for beneficial gut bacteria, which may boost your immune system.
  5. Great for pregnancy: Folate is essential for women who are planning on getting pregnant or who are currently pregnant because it can help protect against neural tube defects in the fetus. Asparagus provides a good source of folate for expectant mothers.
  6. Potential anti-cancer properties: Asparagus, like many other vegetables, contains high levels of antioxidants which may help lower the risk of certain forms of cancer. The glutathione found in asparagus is particularly noteworthy for its potential cancer-fighting properties.
asparagus risotto in a bowl.

Next time you’re at the market, grab a bunch of asparagus and savor its flavor as well as its boost to your health!

Hope you enjoy the Asparagus Risotto recipe! Let us know what you think in the comments, and don’t forget to rate the recipe.

xoxo

Sylvia

More Favorite spring Recipes

Asparagus Risotto video

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Lemony Asparagus Risotto with leeks and basil-light and creamy with vibrant color and flavor, perfect for spring! A tasty vegetarian meal, or beautiful base for fish, seafood or mushrooms! #asparagus #risotto #springrecipes

Asparagus Risotto Recipe

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4.9 from 41 reviews
  • Author: Sylvia Fountaine | Feasting at Home
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: vegetarian, main,
  • Method: stove top
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

This Asparagus Risotto recipe is a delicious celebration of spring! It is vibrant, lemony, and creamy, made with fresh asparagus, lemon, leeks, and basil.


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 1 large leek (or white onion, diced)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 4 garlic cloves, rough chopped
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup white wine, optional- or skip it
  • 3 1/24 cups hot vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves (or sub flat leaf parsley)
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Optional Garnish: lemon zest, basil ribbons, pecorino cheese, optional toasted pinenuts (or other nuts or seeds), chili flakes (Urfa biber is nice) Leek oil (optional) or a drizzle of olive oil.

Instructions

Read the directions all the way through so you get a general idea of things here. 🙂

  1. Bring a small pot of salted water to boil on the stove to blanch asparagus.
  2. Prep the asparagus: Cut the fibrous ends off the asparagus and discard. (You can tell where this is by breaking an end off with your fingers, usually about an inch from bottom- and using this as a guide, cut the rest to match. Toss all the fibrous ends.)  Cut the pretty tips off (about 1 1/2 inches) and set them aside.  Cut the “middles” into 1-inch pieces. Take 1 1/2 cups of the “middles” and set aside (to blanch and blend into a creamy asparagus sauce) which we will stir into the risotto at the end to give it it’s beautiful vibrant color and creamy texture. Add any remaining “middles” to the tips pile and keep these set-aside. So you’ll have two piles of asparagus,  1 1/2 cups of the “middles”  and one with the tips and leftover middles. Ha!
  3. Make the asparagus puree: In the small pot of boiling water, blanch the 1 1/2 cups of asparagus “middles” (without the tips) until tender and vibrant, about 5 minutes, depending on size. Drain, and reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid.  Place both in the blender.  Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and basil leaves and blend until silky smooth. (Alternatively, use an immersion blender.) Set this aside to add to the risotto at the end.
  4. Start Risotto: Thinly slice leeks into half-moons, and rinsing away any dirt, strain. (Rinsing will also help prevent them form scorching.) Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a pot or dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add leeks and garlic and saute until softened and fragrant.
  5. Add arborio rice and stir to coat, one minute. Deglaze with white wine (if using) and cook the wine  off. Add 1 cup hot veggie broth, scraping up any browned bits, bring to a gentle simmer, over med-low heat stirring occasionally, letting the rice absorb the all the broth. 
  6. Continue adding the hot broth 1 cup at a time, letting the rice absorb it slowly, each time, stirring often. ***At the same time that you add the last cup of broth, add the fresh asparagus tips, letting them cook in the risotto 3 minutes or so. At this point, rice should be creamy yet slightly al dente.
  7. Combine: Stir in blended asparagus “puree”, add the salt, pepper, a squeeze of lemon juice and taste.  Adjust salt, pepper and lemon to taste. (Pecorino will add more depth and flavor here.)  Heat gently over low heat letting it thicken a bit if you like, but taking care not to cook too long here, or you’ll lose the vibrant color.
  8. Divide among bowls, garnish with pecorino cheese, lemon zest and chili flakes or a drizzle of the optional leek oil.

Notes

To make this go faster, start the risotto and asparagus blanching at the same time- great for multitaskers! 😉

If you’d like to add a protein, add 1 cup peas or edamame to the risotto, or top the risotto with fish or seafood- scallops, shrimp, salmon, chicken or halibut, etc.

Sauteed mushrooms are nice here too, along with a drizzle of truffle oil. ;). Photos include Maitake Mushrooms.

Feel free to add toasted nuts or seeds.

Yes, you can make asparagus risotto in an Instant Pot, reducing the stock to two cups. Blanch the asparagus separately on the stove, make the creamy sauce, adding both to the instant pot AFTER pressure cooking.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 2/3 cups with 1 tablespoon Romano cheese
  • Calories: 357
  • Sugar: 7.2 g
  • Sodium: 1268.9 mg
  • Fat: 21.7 g
  • Saturated Fat: 4.4 g
  • Carbohydrates: 35.5 g
  • Fiber: 3.8 g
  • Protein: 8.4 g
  • Cholesterol: 9.8 mg

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Comments

  1. My first time attempting risotto and wow, what a great experience! This is light and delicious. I added shaved parmesan at the end and it added just enough richness. Peas and sautéed mushrooms were a great addition to make it a bit more hearty as a main meal. Thank you again for a great recipe!

  2. Wow! So clean tasting! Love the trick of adding the asparagus tips and middles in the last few minutes. I added edamame and mushrooms to mine, and some Cajun seasoning as well. This went well with the lemon. Thanks for a great recipe!






  3. I loved the color! I added edamame and roasted portabella and shitake mushrooms. It was delicious!






  4. Made this tonight with salmon that was encrusted in everything bagel seasoning. It was delicious! Only change I would make next time is use half a lemon so the risotto’s garlicky asparagus can stand out more.






  5. I just made this, and wow. My only modifications – I put pecorino in the asparagus sauce directly and a lot of lemon rind for more lemonyness.
    Praise to the culinary goddess Sylvie and her delicious recipe here!






    1. Yes, but I would leave the asparagus out until after pressure cooking, at the end and stir it in along with the sauce.

  6. Superb! Made exactly as directed with asparagus directly out of our garden. Served with the Maitake mushrooms and pine nuts as suggested. The pecorino is a must!






  7. Yummy as always!
    I made my risotto in the instant pot while I made the sauce. I ended up with a ton of leftover sauce, any ideas on what could I use it for??






  8. Very nice recipe. Came out very well! I wished the asparagus middles + basil mix was a bit more veggie-forward and fragrant. Added a lot of liquid, but not a lot of taste.






  9. Followed the instructions exactly and it turned out perfect. Absolutely enjoyed this dish. I did include the mushrooms and chopped up fresh ginger which gave it a wonderful kick to it. This one will be on my once per month lunch/dinner menu!






  10. Almost impossible to stop eating this. Could be dangerous 🙂

    I use Better Than Bullion veggie paste which always adds a good taste. It’s important to follow directions and simmer the rice slowly so it takes up the liquid. I forgot the fresh basil and used dried instead. No doubt the fresh herb would have contributed more. I also want to add the mushrooms next time. Delicious recipe.. Oh, the chili flakes was a great idea as well. Just a tad though.






  11. I found this recipe looking for ideas for a food swap with a bunch of friends, all of whom are vegetarian and vegan. This recipe is perfect! It’s sssoooo tasty!! I paired it with fried mushrooms and walnuts for them, and roast salmon with lemon and basil for us.






  12. Delicious. It was my first time making risotto. I defaulted to rinsing the rice which I found was ill advised, after the fact. I also added all four cups of broth which made it soupy once the asparagus basil sauce was added. I chose to serve it as soup along side broiled salmon rather than risk losing the brilliant, Spring green colour. My carnivore, who avoids vegetables if at all possible, said I could make it any time. High praise indeed.






    1. Possibly? But not sure of the timing and liquid amounts here – it would be different.

  13. That was amazing – thank you!
    Family loved it too.
    Had some salmon and baked zucchini spears with it – delicious!






  14. This was a big hit with the family! It tastes just like spring. The mushrooms on top were the most perfect addition.






  15. My 20 months year old son approves. He ate a bowl with some cold smoked salmon.

    Thanks for the inspiration.
    Greetings from Denmark






  16. I’ve never cooked arborio rice. I’ve cooked brown rice, quick-cooking brown rice, various other rice. You don”t give a hint as to how long to cook the arborio rice, just “keep adding cups of water”. Would be really helpful to have that information. (I guess I could read instructions on some random package of arborio rice, which means I could not buy it in bulk, or I’d have to google it and hope it’s apt enough along with the sautéing/deglazing). It would really be helpful if your recipe included that basic info.

    It sounds delicious. Particularly the creamy green sauce. I’m hoping an old basic Osterizer blender is sufficient for processing the asparagus and basil.

    Thanks.

  17. Great recipe! I dislike asparagus but my husband loves it so I thought I’d give this one a try. Delicious! I added some pecorino and topped with pan seared salmon. Thank you for another lovely recipe !






  18. Fantastic! What a wonderful spring treat. I topped with a small filet of seared Chilean sea bass. Served with a crisp Pinot Gris. Definitely company worthy! Outstanding!!!






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