Asparagus and Pesto Risotto with Mushrooms

asparagus risotto with mushrooms

Asparagus has such an extraordinarily fresh and unique flavor that all I typically need to enjoy the local asparagus in season is a quick steaming or roasting, a pat of butter, a drizzle of lemon juice and a sprinkling of sea salt. But this elegant summer vegetable is quite deserving of a more elaborate treatment when you want to make it the spotlight of a special meal, so long as it is paired with similarly simple but fine flavors.

A simple creamy risotto provides the opportunity to lend even more distinction and flair to asparagus. Fresh lightly sautéed button mushrooms and a simple basil pesto add refined and delicious adornments that enhance the taste experience of asparagus without overshadowing it. Quite easy to prepare and make and just requiring attention, this risotto is really quite a stunning gourmet way to enjoy the asparagus season.

 Asparagus and Pesto Risotto with Mushrooms Asparagus and Pesto Risotto with Mushrooms
Recipe by
Cuisine: Italian
Published on July 4, 2013

Elegant and delicious summer asparagus and fresh mushroom risotto flavored with a simple basil pesto

Preparation: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 40 to 50 minutes

Print this recipePrint this recipe

  • small handful of fresh basil leaves
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
  • 8 oz (225 g) white mushrooms
  • 1 bunch fresh asparagus
  • juice from 1 lemon (3 tablespoons)
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio or other risotto rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • Prepare the pesto by placing the basil, garlic and olive oil in a mortar and pestle, food processor or blender. Process until blended, transfer to a bowl, and stir in the Parmesan cheese. Set aside.

  • Chop the mushrooms into bite-size pieces.

  • Snap the woody ends off the asparagus and cut the stalks into 1-inch pieces, leaving the tips whole. Transfer to a bowl and toss with the lemon juice.

  • In a large saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat. Toss in the fresh mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms just begin to release their juices and brown — about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the asparagus and stir for another 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and drain the cooking liquid into the stock. Transfer the mushrooms and asparagus to a bowl and set aside.

  • Bring the vegetable stock to a good simmer in a small saucepan. In the same pan that the mushrooms and asparagus were cooked in, heat the olive oil and another 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. When hot, add the onion and stir for 5 to 8 minutes or until golden brown. Add the rice and stir for another few minutes to coat the grains with oil.

  • Pour in the white wine, raise the heat slightly, and cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid evaporates.

  • Now add a ladle of the simmering stock and cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid is absorbed. Continue adding the stock a ladleful at a time, stirring constantly, waiting until the liquid is absorbed between each addition. Continue until the rice is al dente — this should take 20 to 30 minutes and use most of the stock (add hot water to the stock if necessary).

  • Before adding the last ladle of stock, stir in the mushrooms and asparagus. Add the last ladle, stir a couple of times, then add the pesto. Gently stir to combine, then remove from heat when most of the last ladle of stock has been absorbed.

  • Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and season with salt and pepper. Taste for seasoning and serve hot.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

asparagus risotto

Other risottos you will enjoy:
Mushroom Risotto
Mushroom, Lentil and Spinach Risotto
Lemon Risotto with Leeks and Mushrooms
Sweet Corn Risotto with Tomato and Basil


Priya Suresh said...

Creamy and droolworthy dish.

Unknown said...

Is it possible to make this dish the day before the event? Will the rice end up mushy? If it is indeed possible, how do you advise to reheat it? By microwave?

Lisa Turner said...

Hi Janet. Risotto is always best served right after it is done. The texture is never quite right the day after. However, you could make it ahead of time. I would suggest reheating it in a low temperature oven before serving if you go that route.