Asparagus risotto is a mouth-watering, enveloping, delicate and healthy first course.
Risotto with asparagus is a classic Italian recipe that announces the arrival of spring. In fact, asparagus is the quintessential spring vegetable.
Asparagus Milanese with eggs and Risotto are effectively the two most classic and popular ways of cooking asparagus in Italy.
By following a few simple steps and a few tips, you can make a delicious risotto with asparagus.
We are going to show you the authentic Italian recipe for Asparagus Risotto. A simple recipe that enhances the delicious and characteristic taste of asparagus.
The cooking of risotto is a typical Italian technique. Only in Italy is the rice cooked slowly, adding a little broth at a time. The broth is therefore an essential element in the preparation of risotto.
For this reason, we recommend the use of a good vegetable broth, possibly homemade. Follow the basic recipe with the addition of a few asparagus stems. This is to maximize the flavor of the asparagus.
As for the rice, we recommend Carnaroli or Arborio. These are the rices we use most for risotto because they make the risotto creamier.
Delicate in taste and soft in texture, risotto with asparagus is a real must in Italian spring cooking.
Asparagus risotto is ideal for both special occasions and everyday meals. This recipe is perfect even for an Easter lunch or a dinner with friends.
So follow our step-by-step recipe for creamy, authentic Italian asparagus risotto!
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Authentic Italian Asparagus Risotto Recipe
- Prep Time: 1 hour (including time to cook broth)
- Cook Time: 20 Min
- Servings: 4
- 500 g (1,1 pound) of asparagus
- 1.5 liters (6 1/3 cups) of vegetable broth made with carrot, celery, onion and the hard parts of the asparagus spears (read step 2)
- 1 small onion for the soffritto
- 320 g (~ 1 2/3 cups) of Carnaroli or Arborio rice
- 60 g (1/4 cup) of unsalted butter
- 60 g (1/2 cup) of grated Parmigiano cheese
- 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- a pinch of fine salt
How to Make Asparagus Risotto
Step 1) – First, clean the asparagus. Rinse them under running water to remove any soil.
Divide the asparagus into three parts. Cut off the toughest part of the stalk, which you can add to the vegetable broth.
PLEASE NOTE: To find out how much asparagus stalk to discard, simply bend the asparagus. It will break at the junction of the softer and leathery parts. Also, if the stalk is very thick, you may want to peel it with a vegetable peeler to remove the harder outer part.
Next, cut off the asparagus tips, which are the most tender part, and set them aside.
Finally, cut the rest of the stalk into rounds.
Step 2) – If you have not already done it, prepare the vegetable broth according to the basic recipe. In addition to the carrot, celery and onion, you can add the hard parts of the asparagus spears to maximize the flavor of the asparagus.
Cover with water (about 2 liters – 8 1/2 cups) and cook, starting with cold water, for at least half an hour from boiling. You should get about 1 1/2 liters of asparagus-flavored vegetable broth.
Meanwhile, put oil in a saucepan and sauté the chopped onion for a few minutes.
Step 3) – Then add the asparagus cut into rounds. Cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Finally adjust the salt.
Then add a ladle of broth. Cover and cook for about 3 minutes.
Step 4) – At this point, reduce the heat to low and use a skimmer to scoop out almost all of the asparagus and onion (about 3/4).
Place them in the bowl of an immersion blender. Blend with a drizzle of oil and a little salt (taste before adding it!) to make a creamy asparagus puree.
This will make the risotto creamier and more colorful. Set the mashed asparagus aside.
How to Cook Asparagus Risotto
Step 5) – Now add the rice and stir. Add 1 ladle of broth, stir, and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes.
Whenever the risotto dries out – because it’s absorbing the broth – add a ladle of broth and stir, then let it simmer. You may or may not end up using all the broth. The key is to taste and adjust accordingly!
Step 6) – While the rice is cooking, in a small saucepan, boil the asparagus tips in water for 2-3 minutes.
Place them in ice to keep them nice and bright and crisp. Set aside.
Step 7) – Towards the end of the rice cooking, after about 15 minutes, add the asparagus cream and mix well.
If necessary, add another half ladle of broth. The risotto should be creamy and al dente (taste, taste and then taste!).
At the end of the cooking time, which usually takes 18 minutes for Carnaroli and Arborio rice, turn off the heat and stir in the butter and grated Parmigiano.
Add the asparagus tips and stir. Set some tips aside to decorate the dish.
Serve the asparagus risotto piping hot, garnishing the plates with some asparagus tips and, if you like, more grated Parmigiano cheese.
How to Store Asparagus Risotto
Like all risotto recipes, even Asparagus Risotto is an express preparation, that is to say, it must be prepared and eaten immediately. It’s not a dish that can be prepared in advance.
If you have leftovers, you can store asparagus risotto for 2 days in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
We don’t recommend freezing.
Asparagus Risotto: Some Variants
We have given you the classic recipe for risotto with asparagus. In this recipe, asparagus is the main ingredient and its flavor is enhanced to the fullest.
However, there are many ingredients that you can add to asparagus to create very tasty and special variations.
Here are a few suggestions.
Saffron Risotto with Asparagus
You can add flavor and color to your asparagus risotto by adding some spices. Saffron and turmeric, dissolved in a little hot water at the end of cooking, are excellent.
Asparagus and Gorgonzola Risotto
If you like cheese and want an even creamier risotto, in addition to butter and parmigiano, you can add about 50 grams of a flavorful cream cheese. For example, Caprino, Taleggio, or Gongorzola.
Asparagus and Shrimp Risotto
Very popular is the version with shrimps.
Shrimp, with its sweetness and delicacy, goes well with the flavor of asparagus. Add the shrimp to the risotto during the last 5 minutes of cooking.
If you don’t have fresh shrimp, you can use frozen shrimp: the flavor and aroma will not be the same, but you will still get a good risotto.
Risotto with asparagus and prawns is a very refined and elegant dish, perfect for special occasions.
Asparagus and Sausage Risotto
Another very tasty and rich variation is risotto with asparagus and bacon or sausage.
There are two ways to prepare it.
You can add chopped bacon or crumbled sausage to the onion soffritto.
This way, the sausage will cook with the rice and its fat will remain in the risotto. You will have a risotto that is higher in calories, but also more flavorful.
Alternatively, you can toast the bacon or sausage in a separate pan.
When they are nicely crisped, add them to the risotto already on the plates. This keeps the fat in the pan and adds a crispy, flavorful touch to your asparagus risotto!
If you like a smoky flavor, you can use smoked bacon instead of sausage for an asparagus risotto with a twist.
Asparagus and Strawberry Risotto
Another special combination that brings all the colors and flavors of spring into a dish is with strawberries.
Asparagus and strawberry risotto is a very easy recipe to make with a truly excellent result.
It’s basically a combination of a strawberry risotto and an asparagus risotto. A feast of flavors and colors that go together perfectly!
Follow the recipe for Asparagus Risotto as described. When adding the asparagus tips, at the end of cooking, add 5-6 chopped strawberries.
Then mix with butter and grated parmigiano as described.
Decorate with the asparagus tips and half a strawberry.
What is the Best Type of Rice for Risotto Recipe?
To make a good risotto, the quality of the rice is very important. The ideal rice for risotto is “superfino” or ” rice for risotto”, which has a high starch content and a creamy texture when cooked.
Specifically, the types of Italian rice most commonly used for risotto are Arborio, Carnaroli, and Vialone Nano.
These types of rice have different textures and slightly different flavors, but they all work well for risotto.
Arborio is the most common type of rice and has a soft, creamy texture.
Carnaroli has a longer grain and retains its al dente texture after cooking, making it ideal for risottos with ingredients that require longer cooking.
Vialone Nano has a smaller grain and a texture similar to Arborio, but is less creamy and more suitable for risottos with fish or vegetables.
In general, when choosing rice for risotto, it is important to look for a fresh, high quality product, as this will affect the final result of the dish.
Asparagus: the Best Italian Varieties
In Italy there are many varieties of asparagus, divided according to color and to place of cultivation.
The most famous and widespread variety in Italy is the green one, which we used in this recipe. The common green asparagus with a sweet and strong flavor, spread from Emilia Romagna to Campania up to Puglia. Green asparagus is medium-sized and appreciated for risotto, omelettes and side dishes.
In particular, the Green Asparagus from Altedo in Emilia stands out for its quality.
White asparagus are grown mainly in Veneto and Lombardy. They are large, delicate and very soft, it’s the only one that has no waste. It’s eaten in its entire length and is considered the most valuable. The most famous white asparagus are those from Bassano and from Cimadolmo in Veneto.
Violet asparagus are typical of Liguria. In particular the violet asparagus from Albenga (SAVONA), which has a delicate aroma and sweet taste.