Making Basic Risotto Ahead: Follow the recipe for lemon risotto through step 3. (You will have used about 4 to 4 1/2 cups of stock.) Remove from heat. Using a wooden spoon, spread rice into a thin layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Refrigerate up to 24 hours. Cover the remaining stock (if not using that day, transfer it to the refrigerator). To finish risotto: Bring stock to a boil; turn off heat. Scrape rice from sheet into a medium saucepan. Stir in stock, 1/2 cup at a time, and cook, stirring constantly, as in main recipe, until risotto is done. Follow step 5 of main recipe.
Using Brown Rice or Farro: The key here is presoaking the grains: Cover 1 cup of brown rice or farro with cold water by 2 to 3 inches in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil; boil 1 minute. Turn off heat; let stand 1 hour. Drain. Follow lemon risotto recipe (cooking time will be about 22 minutes, so add the asparagus after 18 minutes).
Pear Barley with Mushrooms: Presoak 1 cup pearl barley as you would brown rice. Bring 7 cups chicken stock to a boil; turn off heat. Cook 2 ounces diced pancetta in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, 6 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon. Add 2 teaspoons olive oil and 6 ounces mixed fresh mushrooms (such as oyster and shiitake); cook 6 minutes. Remove mushrooms. Follow steps 2 and 3 of lemon risotto recipe; adding about 6 cups stock over about 35 minutes. Add pancetta and mushrooms; cook until hot. Follow step 5, stirring in 1/2 to 1 cup stock and replacing parsley with 1/4 cup chopped fresh tarragon.