Risotto with Asparagus

Fiats, Ferraris, Pizza, Pasta, and Prada! Clearly, Italy has a knack for the indulgent & classy while always saving a seat at the table for tradition & practicality.

At OUR table, we’re featuring a recipe that honors its Italian roots by way of one of Italy’s most famous dishes: Risotto! 

Risotto, a creamy rice dish, embodies high-end, Italian panache without sacrificing humbleness. And Big Horn’s Risotto with Asparagus pulls this balance off in exemplary fashion!  

So, join us on a quest to harness the essence of Italian heritage, and add this easy-to-make, elegant, and – most importantly – delectable dish to your cooking arsenal!

Ingredients:

In most cases, Big Horn encourages opting for fresh ingredients. Of course, we understand this isn’t always reasonable, but let’s take a moment to focus on something you’ll absolutely want to buy fresh for this dish: Asparagus!

Be sure your fresh asparagus checks these boxes before putting it in your cart:

Texture: Avoid anything wilted! The tips should be compact & not spread out. 

Color: Unless you’re lucky enough to find white asparagus, you’re going to be looking for bunches predominately rich in green color (even purple-ish towards the top). Avoid anything dull in green color, as this indicates the asparagus might be past its prime. 

Size: Of course, asparagus comes in allll kinds of sizes, but ideally, you’ll find bunches with reasonably uniform individual stalks. Generally speaking, uniformity makes cooking easier. 

Now, let’s get shopping! 

  1. 2 Bunches of Thick(ish) Asparagus (We’re looking for roughly 2 pounds of stalks)
  2. High-Quality EVOO (Any of these will do nicely!)
  3. One Sprig of Thyme
  4. 4 Tbs of Unsalted Butter
  5. Kosher Salt & Ground Pepper (Freshly ground, please!)
  6. 1 Large Shallot (Diced)
  7. 2 Cups of Arborio Rice
  8. 1/3 Cup of Dry, White Wine
  9. 2 Tsp of Grated Lemon Zest
  10. 1/3 Cup of Grated Parmesan Cheese (Freshly grated…? Great!)
  11. 2 Tsp of Fresh Lemon Juice (Admittedly, the non-fresh stuff in those plastic lemon containers will do the trick in a pinch.)
  12. 1 Head of Bibb Lettuce (Cut this bad boy into strips)
  13. 8 Oz of Thinly Sliced Robiola or Taleggio Cheese (We’ve officially entered the realm of “fancy”! Find this stuff in the imported cheese section.)

Ingredients obtained? Excellent. Let’s render this risotto!

Instructions:

Act 1 – Asparagus Glow Up: 

Grab your veggie peeler. Carefully peel the bottom third of the asparagus stalks. Break off each stalk where it snaps naturally.

Slice the asparagus bottoms thinly, and plunk the bottoms into a saucepan. We’re making an asparagus-based broth, so fill the saucepan with 8 cups water and add the thyme to the party. Bring the concoction a simmer.

Act 2 – Stir Like Your Risotto Depends on it! 💪:

Break out a saucepan, and melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Then, drop in the shallots and cook until translucent. Make sure you’re consistently stirring the shallots. It’ll take about 2 minutes to get them to translucent perfection.

Next, add the rice and cook, stirring, until glossy. This takes about 1 minute.

Toss in 1 1/4 teaspoons salt. Pour in the wine and allow this to be absorbed. Continue stirring to help expedite the absorption process. 

Stir in 1/2 cup of the asparagus broth until absorbed (use a ladle to add the broth, keeping the solids in the pan). Continue to ladle in broth in 1/2-cup increments, stirring constantly. Now, this is important: You’ll want to allow the liquid to be absorbed before adding more. All in all, it should take about 10 minutes, and you should have about half the broth left by the end of the process. 

Stir in the sliced asparagus bottoms and the lemon zest.

Finally, add the remaining broth, 1/2 cup at a time, until the rice is just tender. This will take about 5 to 8 more minutes.

Act 3 – A Tip of the Hat to Our Asparagus Tips: 

“Act 2” obviously involved LOTS of stirring, but our next steps are a little more hands-off. (In fact, if you’re extra skilled in the kitchen, you may be able to execute this in conjunction with “Act 2” – just make sure your timing is on point.)

Go ahead and put the asparagus tips in a large skillet. Fill the skillet with water to cover the asparagus, and season with salt and pepper. Simmer the asparagus tips over medium-high heat until just tender. This should take about 5 minutes.

Act 4 – Finishing Touches:

We’re in the home stretch!

Gather the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, the parmesan, and our lemon juice, and add everything to the risotto.

Stir in the lettuce, and remove from the heat just after all the lettuce is integrated. Season with salt.

Lastly, divide the finished risotto among bowls, top with the robiola (or taleggio) slices, and season with pepper. Drizzle the asparagus tips with olive oil and place atop the risotto.

And there you have it! You’ve chopped, seasoned, and stirred (okay, mostly stirred) your way into Italian culinary greatness! 

Act 5 (and beyond) – Round out That Table!:

Risotto is best served immediately, but don’t hesitate to consider a tasty side before / after / alongside the main event.

Seeking inspiration? Allow us to suggest any of the wonderful sides & salads found here

Enjoy! 😊