Meatless Monday: A Culinary Breakthrough – Low-Maintenance Risotto with Asparagus, Parmesan and Lemon

Low-Maintenance Lemon Asparagus Risotto

Low-Maintenance Risotto with Lemon, Asparagus and Parmesan

The current  issue of Cook’s Illustrated magazine features a revolutionary way of cooking risotto. I love risotto – it is one of the very few dishes that is better when cooked at home than when served in a restaurant because of the high-maintenance and finicky nature of the dish and the attentiveness that a home cook can give.

The CI recipe is called “Almost No-Stir Risotto.” Since I have shied away from making risotto because of the high-maintenance nature of the dish, I knew I had to try this method for Meatless Monday. I had problems with the old method of constant stirring for 30 minutes – when you’re distracted making other dishes, neglect can result in disasters such as burnt bottom crust.

No so with this new method!

The risotto, CI found, does not need stirring during the first 15 minutes of cooking because the boiling itself creates enough agitation to keep the rice moving. Then, you just remove the lid and stir for about 3 minutes, remove the pot from the heat and let sit for another 5 minutes and – VOILA! – a risotto that is every bit as creamy as the old-school method. I promise. Even a trained discerning culinary palate will not be able to tell the difference!

Thinly sliced asparagus is best for this risotto

Thinly sliced asparagus is best for this risotto


Serves 6 to 8 as a side dish – 30 minutes total time

2 large shallots, diced
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 cups diced asparagus
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 cups Arborio rice
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, heated
1 cup water, heated
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated ( about 1 cup )

Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter in large Dutch oven over medium heat. When butter has melted, add shallots and cook, stirring frequently, until softened but not browned, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add asparagus, garlic and lemon zest and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add rice and cook, stirring frequently, until grains are translucent around edges, about 3 minutes.

Add vinegar and cook, stirring constantly, until fully absorbed, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir broth into rice; reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and slowly simmer until almost all liquid has been absorbed and rice is just al dente, 15 to 18 minutes, stirring twice during cooking.

Add 1/2 cup water and stir gently and constantly until risotto becomes creamy, about 3 minutes. Remove pot from heat, cover, and let stand 5 minutes. Stir in Parmesan, remaining 2 tablespoons butter, lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. If desired, add up to 1/2 cup remaining water to loosen texture of risotto. Serve immediately.

Other fab asparagus risottos:
Classic Asparagus Risotto
, Simply Recipes
Risotto with Shrimp and Asparagus, The Perfect Pantry
Asparagus, Artichoke and Shitake Risotto, Smitten Kitchen
Mario Batali’s Asparagus Risotto, Recipe Girl
Risotto with Asparagus and Leeks, Gluten Free Goddess

— posted by Donna


  1. says

    I highly endorse making risotto this way. I was in an uber-lazy “devil may care cuz I sure don’t” mood one day and tossed arborio rice and chicken stock into a sauce pot with sauteed shallots and butter and just prepared it as I would any white rice. Lo and behold, I couldn’t tell the difference between this and classically prepared risotto, and I’ve been doing it this way ever since. I’ll try to add in the extra water and stir time at the end to see what difference that makes.

  2. says

    Looks tasty! I will have to try your risotto! I posted a lemon orzo salad with asparagus today-I can’t get enough asparagus this spring:)

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