This post is written in partnership with Filippo Berio
Risotto has a reputation of being finicky and tricky, but in reality it's not difficult when you're working with the right ingredients.
Here, asparagus roasted in extra-virgin olive oil and coated with a balsamic glaze is the star of the show with only a few supporting cast members: good stock, peas, onions, lemon, Parmesan, and of course, rice. Comfort in a bowl awaits.
Video! How to Make Risotto with Balsamic-Roasted Asparagus
Risotto with Balsamic-Roasted Asparagus and Peas
Which Rice Should I Use?
For traditional style risotto, you need short-grain, starchy rice such Italian Arborio or Carnaroli. Asian or Spanish bomba short-grain rice will also work in a pinch.
The Best Stock For the Job
Your stock should taste good enough to sip by itself; no amount of added cheese can rescue the risotto if the stock is not good.
For that reason, we love homemade stock because the flavor is bold and clean. Of course, if you're a vegetarian, a vegetable stock is a great option, too. And if you're in a hurry, there's no shame in store bought!
Although many recipes recommend adding hot stock to the pot when you're making your risotto, we've found that it's not a necessary step—you can use hot stock if you want, but even cold or room temperature stock will produce the results you want.
Prepping the Veggies!
Thick asparagus spears are the best for roasting, since the thin spears tend to dry out more quickly in the oven. To preserve more of the spears, instead of trimming the tough ends by breaking them, slice off about 1 inch from the bottom and peel the stalks. After peeling, the stems will be tender rather than tough when they are roasted.
As for the peas, use either frozen or fresh. If you go the frozen route, defrost them quickly by covering them with boiling or very hot water, leave for a minute or two, and then drain. They can be stirred into the rice and cooked just long enough to reheat them. If you use fresh peas, simply stir them into the risotto a few minutes before it is ready. They only take a few minutes to cook.
How to Get the Creamiest Risotto?
We've got a few tips up our sleeve that will guarantee you have winning risotto each and every time:
- Use a deep saucepan, as opposed to a wide one, as it'll help limit evaporation (and you want all that liquid to stay put so your rice doesn't dry out).
- You can add about 2 cups of stock to the pot initially, and when it's absorbed, begin adding it more slowly, stirring, and waiting until it is absorbed before adding more. This way, the rice becomes creamier with each addition.
Once the rice is al dente (a grain of rice should be tender but show a speck of white in the middle when you bite into it) stir in the peas, asparagus, and Parmesan. Then add a final splash of stock just before serving to create a saucy consistency.
Risotto with Balsamic-Roasted Asparagus and Peas
- 1 pound asparagus, thick ends trimmed and discarded
- 1/4 cup Filippo Berio Extra Virgin olive oil, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided, plus more to taste
- 1 tablespoon Filippo Berio Balsamic Glaze
- 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 cups Arborio rice
- 5 to 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock, homemade or store bought
- 1 cup peas, fresh or frozen
- Finely grated zest of 1 lemon, about 1 tablespoon
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
Preheat the oven to 400ºF
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Prep the asparagus
Working with one asparagus spear at a time, lay each on a flat surface. With a vegetable peeler, peel away the thin outer layer of each spear, starting about 3-inches below the tip and working toward the end.
Lay the spears on a baking sheet and drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1/8 teaspoon of the salt. Toss to coat with 2 tablespoons olive oil and spread out in a nice, even row.
Roast the asparagus
Roast for 10 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a paring knife. Drizzle with the balsamic glaze.
When cool enough to handle, cut the spears into 1-inch pieces. Set aside while you make the risotto.
Sauté the onions
In a 4-quart saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the onions and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring often, for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the onions are soft and translucent.
Add the rice
Add the rice and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes, or until the grains are warm and coated with olive oil.
Begin adding broth
Add 2 cups of the stock to the pot and adjust the heat so that it maintains a steady simmer. When the stock is mostly absorbed, continue to add the stock in 1/2-cup increments, stirring regularly until it’s almost absorbed, about 20-25 minutes.
The rice should look like shiny porridge and should be slightly al dente, but err on the side of undercooking, since it will continue to cook and absorb liquid off the heat. Taste and add more salt if needed.
Finish the risotto
Towards the end of cooking, stir in the peas and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the asparagus and stir over the heat until they are warm.
Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the lemon zest, juice and Parmesan. Serve in bowls with more Parmesan, if you like.