Spring Green Risotto

I honestly wasn’t sure I was going to like this meal.  In general I enjoy risotto, and I like most vegetables, but something about the combination of ingredients in this dish made me unsure whether we would really like it or not.  I decided to just go for it because if I know one thing, it’s that Ina almost never lets me down.  I’m so glad I trusted her this time around because I was completely wowed by this dish.  The combination of all the fresh vegetables with the lemon zest and black pepper gave this a complex flavor that was just fantastic.  And the brilliant addition of a bit of mascarpone cheese to make an ultra creamy risotto – why have I never thought of that?  I think I’ll apply that to more risottos in the future.  I think this would be the perfect addition to an Easter meal if you decide to stray from the usual ham/potatoes/green veggie spread.  If I were hosting this year, it would most definitely be on my menu.  We ate this as a main dish but it also makes an elegant side.  Also – huge progress here, even Ben the supposed pea hater liked this.  Win!

Spring Green Risotto
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5 cups chicken broth or stock
1½ tbsp. olive oil
1½ tbsp. unsalted butter
2 shallots, minced
3 cups chopped leeks, white and green parts (about 2 leeks)
1½ cups Arborio rice (medium grain rice)
2/3 cup dry white wine
1 lb. asparagus (thin spears preferable), cut into 1-inch pieces and tough ends discarded
10 oz. frozen peas, thawed (or 1½ cups shelled fresh peas)
1 tbsp. freshly grated lemon zest
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. pepper
2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup mascarpone cheese (cream cheese is a fine substitute)
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
3 tbsp. minced fresh chives

In a medium saucepan, heat the chicken broth or stock over medium heat until simmering.  Reduce the heat to medium-low, keeping the stock warm.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat until the butter is melted.  Add the shallots and leeks to the pan and sauté for 5-7 minutes, until tender.  Add the rice to the pan and stir to coat well with the oil and butter, cooking for about 1 minute.  Add the white wine and simmer over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until most of the wine has been absorbed.  Add the chicken stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring almost constantly and waiting for the stock to be absorbed before adding more.

Meanwhile, blanch the asparagus in boiling salted water for 4-5 minutes, until crisp-tender. Drain and rinse immediately with cold water to stop cooking.  (If using fresh peas, blanch them in boiling water for a few minutes as well.)

When the risotto has been cooking for 15 minutes, add the asparagus and peas to the risotto.  Stir in the lemon zest, salt and pepper.  Continue cooking and adding stock, stirring almost constantly, until the rice is tender but still firm.  The entire process should take about 25-30 minutes.

When the risotto is done, remove the pan from the heat.  Mix in the lemon juice, mascarpone, Parmesan and chives.  Stir until the cheeses are melted in and the risotto is creamy.  Serve immediately with additional Parmesan, if desired.

Source: adapted from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics by Ina Garten

36 Responses

  1. Looks very tasty. I’ll have to try it!

  2. I make a lot of risotto and this recipe is by far my family’s favorite. My children love it and don’t complain about all the veggies. I’m glad you gave it a try and suggest to anyone who is on the fence about it, jump down and make it too. Risotto takes some time, but if you have a glass of wine in one hand and a spoon in the other the time will fly by.

  3. Happy National Doctor’s Day, Annie.

  4. so pretty! I still really want to try this version too. I love the idea of marscarpone!

  5. That’s funny – she made this on the episode I watched yesterday afternoon. It was already on my list! I’m not a huge pea fan, but glad to hear you liked it. I’m pretty sure I will too.

  6. I have been looking for a recipe like this! What a BEAUTIFUL spring dish! Can’t wait to try it. Thanks! 🙂

  7. Mmm looks delicious! Like springtime in a bowl 🙂

  8. My husband makes this dish regularly – it has become a firm favourite in our home. it’s one of those no fail yummy delish recipes that you simply cannot have enough of.

  9. I’ve made this before! You are right, Ina never dissappoints!

  10. Sounds and looks incredible, Annie!

  11. I’ve made this rissotto and it’s a big hit in our household! Which is saying something, because usually my husband would prefer a lb of beef on his plate at every meal! It makes a ton too!

  12. What did you serve this with? Was it a side dish, or was it the main dish? It sounds like it would be a nice side dish for scallops or even the chicken recipe you posted yesterday.

    • Hi Tricia,
      I served it as a main dish but it would be perfect as a side as well. I just served with some Italian bread on the side.

  13. This looks phenomenal! I love all the veggies. It’s just perfect for spring.

  14. I’m pretty sure that if you added mascarpone to anything it would taste good, but especially risotto. I made a pumpkin risotto semi-recently with mascarpone and it was lovely.

    I really like how festive this is! Bring on the spring.

  15. this looks delicious! i am a big fan of risotto but have not done much with adding veggies. i will file this one away as a must-try!

  16. This was the first Ina Garten recipe I ever tried and I also LOVED it! It, like so many of her great recipes, sound kind of ho-hum when I read them. But somehow the ingredients always come together just right to make something amazing. How does she do that?

    Oh, and my husband also hates peas and loved this risotto! It’s a real winner for sure!

  17. What a lovely risotto! I love peas, leeks, and asparagus.

  18. Perfect spring meal!

  19. I just had a great pea and pasta dish this week but this risotto is on my short list to try soon. Your husband’s mother probably just used canned peas when he was a kid. I hated peas until I had the fresh or frozen.

  20. great recipe!! the mascarpone is such an excellent addition…i can just imagine how creamy it was. and the greens get me even more excited for the springtime 🙂

  21. this recipe just looks like spring, makes me want to try it and eat it by the window.

  22. Wow, I just had friends over a couple days ago and made this dish. Actually, I’m eating leftovers right now. It is so good. I even made mine with pearled barley instead of Arborio for extra good stuff and it tastes spectacular.

  23. Ina is my hero all of her stuff is so amazing, simple and delicious! I love that you adapted her recipe!

  24. Such wonderful recipes on your site. I am making your cookies (first time with royal icing) using tulip and egg shaped cookie cutters for our Easter celebration.

    What do you think about making the risotto ahead and heating it up before serving for Easter. I think it would be great with ham, but don’t want to be making it at the last minute. I’ve made risotta before and eaten it as leftovers and it’s great, but would appreciate your thoughts.

    • Ruthanne,
      I think that would be fine. I had it as leftovers a couple of times and it still tasted great. Not quite as fantastic as originally, but still very good – although it didn’t look quite as pretty reheated.

  25. I only recently attempted risotto and am now in love with making different varieties. I attended a cooking demo where the chef said that really you don’t “have” to stand over it the whole time. By keeping the pot at a constant simmer, the bubbling motion keeps it moving. The stirring is primarily needed at each addition of liquid. The next time I made it – he was right, but I kept an eye on it!

    Anyway – my question is the use of leeks & shallots. What is the reason? I usually substitute white onion because they are just so darn expensive for someone who only cooks on the weekends (and usually last minute). Should I use a different substitute or should I be true to the recipe and use leeks & shallots? Just curious…

    • Linda,
      Of course you can always something other than leeks or shallot if you wish, that’s your prerogative. Leeks have an entirely different flavor and texture than onion, I would not really consider them the same at all. As for shallots, they have a more delicate flavor and I love them but again, do what you want. In my opinion it would be kind of a pretty different meal with only onion in their place.

  26. Thanks Annie – I may splurge on the leeks & shallots to see the difference. Just have never tried them!

  27. What a nice spring risotto!

  28. This was fantastic! I’ve recently found your blog and have now made your white cookies and this risotto. Both are wonderful! Thanks for the time you put into keeping this up–you really do a great job.

  29. I am new to your site and you make everything look so delicious. This was the first recipe I made and it was delicious!!! I have never made risotto before and was kind of nervous because of all the steps. Other than stirring it, it was actually quite easy. I made it last week and I am going to make it again tonight! I look forward to making more of your recipes….

  30. Just tried this last night and loved it! Prep took a bit of time but the results were well worth the effort.

  31. ohhh! I’m going to make this one with the fresh peas from my garden! Thanks for sharing a great recipe.

  32. Another great recipe! I made mine a bit of a “college student’s version” by using cream cheese instead of mascarpone, omitting the wine and leeks, and halving the recipe. I’m sure it’s awesome made the “right way” but even with my changes it tasted fabulous. I still have enough left over for two more meals too!

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