lemon, prosciutto, & asparagus risotto
Risotto number five (of the risotto series on the blog) has arrived! This lemon asparagus risotto starts like a basic risotto: olive oil, onions, arborio rice, a splash of white wine, and chicken broth. But then, asparagus, lemon juice, prosciutto, and mascarpone transform it into a gorgeous flavor and textural experience. 🙂
how big should I cut the asparagus?
This is totally based upon your preference. I enjoy small pieces of risotto mixed into every bite, while Mark prefers large cuts of risotto dispersed throughout the dish. Fortunately, this risotto can be made with it either way!
However, the cooking time of asparagus will depend on the thickness of the asparagus. For thinner stalks, the asparagus will cook a bit faster, so wait until the end to add it. It only needs to cook with the risotto for a couple of minutes to soften slightly, but stay al dente.
For thicker stalks of asparagus, about 1/2″ or more in diameter, toss it in when you pour in the last ladle of chicken stock!
Squeeze the lemon juice into the risotto at the end, to make sure the fresh lemon flavor stays vibrant. If lemon juice is added earlier in the cooking process, the flavor can become muted. If you REALLY like the lemon, add extra juice halfway through cooking, and at the end, too!
Freshly crack black pepper into the risotto at the end, as well. The same freshness theory applies here!
other risotto recipes to try
- spicy shrimp risotto for two
- chicken, bacon, and cheddar risotto for two
- caramelized onion, bacon, and parmesan risotto
- pancetta leek risotto
- simple parmesan risotto
wine pairings for asparagus risotto
:: Pinot Grigio. (Northern Italy) >> Think dry Pinot Grigio, not sweet. Pinot Grigio from northern Italy lend towards a crispness because it comes from a cooler climate. The cooler the climate, the less the grapes ripen and develop sugar. This keeps the acidity high, which directly relates to the crispness and lack of sweetness in the juice. We want acidity when pairing wine with risotto, because risotto is rich and creamy. The acidity helps cut the creaminess, and creates a sense of balance. Pinot Grigio is especially good with asparagus risotto, because it complements the asparagus without throwing off the flavor!
:: Sancerre. (France) >> Always one of my favorites. A highly acidic French wine made of Sauvignon Blanc grapes, Sancerre is a great pairing for asparagus risotto. Sauvignon Blanc in general lends well to asparagus, which can be really hard to pair with wine. But rather than the grapefruit bombs that can come out of New Zealand, the mineral-driven French version is awesome with food.
:: Grüner Veltliner. (Austria) >> Again with the high acidity! Grüner Veltliner is another wine that can stand up to the challenge of pairing with asparagus, and is also an ideal match for rich foods. It’s basically meant for asparagus risotto, and can easily be found for under $15 at your local wine shop. Grüner Veltliner tends to be light, refreshing, and if you find a young bottle, you can sometimes get a hit of effervescence on the tongue. Fun, right? 🙂
If you make this lemon asparagus risotto, I would love to see your dish on Instagram! Just tag #aflavorjournal so I can be sure to check it out. Also, if you have any questions, shoot me an email so I can help!
Lemon Asparagus Risotto with Crispy Prosciutto
- 4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
- 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1/3 cup finely diced yellow onion
- pinch salt
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 1/3 cup dry white wine
- 10 stalks fresh asparagus* cut into 1/2" pieces
- 1/4 cup mascarpone
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- salt + freshly cracked black pepper to taste
- 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
For Crispy Prosciutto ::
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lay the prosciutto flat onto the parchment paper, keeping space between each slice. Bake for 12-14 minutes until crisp. Let it cool until you're ready to add to the risotto!
For Lemon Asparagus Risotto ::
- In a small saucepan, pour in the chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Turn heat to low, cover, and keep warm as you start everything else.
- In a large sauté pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and a pinch of salt, and cook until softened, about 3-4 minutes.
- Stir arborio rice into the onions, and cook until only a tiny white dot remains in the center of each grain of rice, about 2-3 minutes.
- Stir in white wine until evaporated, about 2-3 minutes.
- Stir one ladle of the warm chicken broth into the rice until it is mostly absorbed. Add another ladle of chicken broth, again stirring until the broth is mostly absorbed. Repeat, stirring continuously, until the rice develops a creamy texture. This will take about 30-35 minutes total.
- Once the rice is al dente, or has just a slight bite to it, stir in the chopped asparagus. Mix the asparagus into the risotto to evenly distribute it, and cook for about 4-5 minutes until asparagus is slightly softened.
- Stir in mascarpone and butter until fully blended into the risotto. Use a pepper grinder to freshly crack black pepper into the risotto, and stir to mix it in.
- Squeeze in fresh lemon juice, and stir to combine. Taste, and season with salt and pepper, if desired.
- Divide the risotto into bowls, and crumble the crispy prosciutto over the top of the risotto. Serve immediately!