Spring Vegetable Risotto

Adapted from Cook's Illustrated,  Published May 1, 2008
Makes 4 Servings



For the Gremolata:

  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves , stems reserved
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh mint leaves , stems reserved
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated zest from 1 lemon

For the Risotto:

  • 1 pound asparagus, tough ends snapped off and reserved, spears cut on bias into 1/2-inch thick pieces
  • 2 medium leeks, white and light green parts halved lengthwise, washed, and sliced thin (about 4 cups), 2 cups roughly chopped greens reserved (see note)
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (see note)
  • 3 cups water
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 2 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1-1/2 cups Arborio rice (see note)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1-1/2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 3/4 cup), plus extra for serving
  • 2 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon




Step 1: For the Gremolata: Combine ingredients in small bowl and set aside.
Step 2: For the Risotto: Chop tough asparagus ends and leek greens into rough 1/2-inch pieces. Bring chopped vegetables, reserved parsley and mint stems, broth, and water to boil in large saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover, and simmer 20 minutes. 
Step 3: Strain broth through fine-mesh strainer into medium bowl, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Return strained broth to saucepan; cover and set over low heat to keep broth warm.
Step 4: Heat 1 tablespoon butter in large Dutch oven over medium heat. When foaming subsides, add asparagus spears, pinch of salt, and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until asparagus is crisp-tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Add peas and continue to cook 1 minute. 
Step 5: Transfer vegetables to plate and set aside.
Step 6: Melt 3 tablespoons butter in now-empty Dutch oven over medium heat. When foaming subsides, add leeks, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. 
Step 7: Cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring frequently, until grains are translucent around edges, about 3 minutes. Add wine and cook, stirring frequently, until fully absorbed, 2 to 3 minutes.
Step 8: When wine is fully absorbed, add 3 cups hot broth to rice. 
Step 9: Simmer, stirring every 3 to 4 minutes, until liquid is absorbed and bottom of pan is almost dry, about 12 minutes.
Step 10: Stir in about 1/2 cup hot broth and cook, stirring constantly, until absorbed, about 3 minutes; repeat with additional broth 3 or 4 times until rice is al dente. Off heat, stir in remaining tablespoon butter, Parmesan, and lemon juice; gently fold in asparagus and peas. If desired, add up to 1/4 cup additional hot broth to loosen texture of risotto. 
Step 11: Serve immediately, sprinkling each serving with gremolata and passing Parmesan separately.