April 3, 2007

Spring Risotto with Lemon, Asparagus, and Peas

New York and I took a while to warm to each other. I hated the impersonality of the city, the ferocious ambition of its inhabitants and the poundingly-loud bar I lived above. Winter slush kept my toes wet and my mood foul. Heavy groceries bags made my arms ache. Eight percent sales tax made me cry. Did I mention I couldn’t get a wink of sleep because of the damn bar?

And then 6 months later spring sprung, and everything changed. Soon after the gift that is daylight savings, I had a weeknight date with myself. I went for a run after work and then walked up 6th Avenue to a ribbon store, stopping for my first iced latte of the season along the way. With endorphins and caffeine pulsing through my system, the city couldn’t have looked fresher or more exciting. When I reached Herald Square, my heart nearly stopped at the sight of all the white cherry blossoms I thought would never burst from their tight, closed buds.

Isn’t that what’s so intoxicating about spring? All of February and most of March, warm weather is such a distant memory it seems like something we might have made up while looking at Anthropologie sundresses. I become convinced that the world may just remain a gray slab of freezing rain forever. And then, out of nowhere it seems, the sun stays up, the tights come off, and my palms start sweating out the adjustment.

This risotto is my celebration of spring. Bursting with bright lemon flavors and the crunch of the season’s first asparagus, it’s the thing to settle down with near a window and be delighted that the sun is still shining at supper time.

Spring Risotto with Lemon, Asparagus, and Peas

Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 small shallots, about 1/2 cup
1 1/2 cup arborio rice
6 cup chicken stock
1 pound asparagus
1 cup frozen spring peas
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3/4 cup grated parmigiano reggiano

In a medium saucepan, bring your stock up to a simmer. Meanwhile, dice the shallots, and snap off the woody ends of the asparagus. If the asparagus is quite thick, you may want to also peel them. Then chop on the diagonal into 1/2 inch pieces.

In a broad-bottomed saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
Add the shallot and cook until soft. Then add the rice and stir to coat.

One ladle-full at a time, add the stock to the rice and stir constantly until completely absorbed before adding more stock. After about ten minutes, add the asparagus, and continue adding stock until the rice is soft and risotto creamy, about 20 or 25 minutes, adding the peas in the last minute.

Remove the risotto from the heat and stir in zest, juice, and cheese. The risotto will continue to thicken, so you should hurry your dinner guests to the table and serve them as soon as you can.

Related Posts with Thumbnails
Tagged: ,


  • andrea from the fishbowl: Normally I am staunchly anti-risotto. It comes from many years of overcooked rice mixed with soggy chunks of vegetables (Mom, I hope you’re not reading this!). I just wanted to chime in to say that this recipe might be worth trying. Who knows, I might discover a hidden love for risotto? Thanks!
    8 years ago

  • Sarah: Andrea, I promise, promise, promise, that if you throw in the asparagus halfway through the total cooking time it’ll stay nice and crisp.
    8 years ago

  • Gail: Sarah – You have such a “way with words”….Thank you for another intoxicatingly charming column….and recipe! Happy Easter! Happy Spring!
    8 years ago

  • shauna: hello there! thank you for the wee link today! i have frittered away the past few hours looking at your videos. you are incredibly gorgeous and i love the site :)
    8 years ago

  • Sarah: Thanks, Gail. Happy Spring to you too!

    Shauna, You are so welcome! Thanks for all the flattery! :)
    8 years ago

  • jen: I just found your site today (followed a link from p&c) and this is definately getting added to my daily must-reads! You have such a clever style that’s so much fun to read – I can’t wait to try that risotto recipe this weekend!
    8 years ago

  • Faith: I cannot wait to try this recipe. I too have been waiting for spring and feeling as if it might never come. Doesn’t help that I’m leaving the unseasonably cold weather of New York today for the even less seasonable weather of Canada. But when I come back I will get myself in a springtime mood with some yummy risotto. Thanks, Sarah!
    8 years ago

  • elizabeth: I made this recipe two days ago and it was delicious!!! A welcome addition to a salmon filet! My grocery store did not have any asparagus left so I got broccolini and used it the same way and it was delish!!
    8 years ago

  • Ivonne: Oh my goodness, I could dive right into this! Beautiful!
    8 years ago

  • Frances: Hi there. I found this site while searching for a spring risotto recipe (please don’t hate me, but I live in Florida, and we have spring for a few minutes in Feb/March, and then summer hits with all it’s might!!) and here I am. Lovely recipe, thank you! And I’ll come back just to read your musings…thank you!
    7 years ago

  • John Althouse Cohen: I just made this and it was pretty good. I added white wine right before I started adding stock (and changed it to vegetable stock since I’m a vegetarian).

    Next time I’d like to try the same thing, but sauteing the peeled asparagi before adding them.6 years ago

Add a comment

There are people who have money and people who are rich.
- Coco Chanel