Lemon Risotto with Asparagus and Peas


If you would prefer a simple lemon risotto, omit the asparagus and peas.


  • 6 cups homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken stock

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 1 small onion, finely chopped

  • 1 cup Arborio rice

  • ½ cup dry white wine

  • 6 thin asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths

  • 1 cup thawed frozen peas

  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

  • 1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

  • ½ cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving

  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper


  1. Bring stock to a boil in a medium saucepan; turn off heat.

  2. Melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat in another medium saucepan. Add onion; cook, stirring constantly, until translucent, 6 to 7 minutes. Add rice; cook, stirring constantly, until edges of grains are translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Raise heat to medium-high. Add wine; cook, stirring constantly, until wine has completely evaporated.

  3. Add 1/2 cup stock; cook, stirring constantly, until stock has been completely absorbed and a wooden spoon drawn through rice leaves a trail in its wake. Continue adding about 4 more cups stock, 1/2 cup at a time, waiting for each addition to be absorbed before adding the next. (It should take about 13 minutes.)

  4. Stir in the asparagus. Add 1/2 to 1 cup more stock, in same manner as described above. About 1 minute before risotto is done, stir in the peas. Risotto is done when liquid looks creamy and grains are cooked but still slightly firm in centers. (The total cooking time will be 16 to 20 minutes.)

  5. Remove from heat; stir in 1/2 cup stock. (You may have stock left over.) Stir in zest, juice, remaining 2 tablespoons butter, parsley, and cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with more cheese.


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.

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