Deliciously creamy and fragrant, this Lemon Parmesan Risotto is prepared with shallots and garlic, and studded with fresh green asparagus. It’s a gourmet dinner you can make at home!
Homemade Risotto Recipe
Risotto is one of my true side-dish loves. The richness of the broth and aromatics cook right into the rice, slowly, until you get a perfectly warm, creamy, and silky dish. And, you can make it in so many ways! With mushrooms, chicken, fish, or whatever you like!
For this recipe, I’m making a vegetarian version of lemon parmesan risotto with fresh asparagus. Serious yum factor right here! Why lemon and parmesan? I find that these two bring the perfect blend of bright notes and umami depth to a risotto! Plus, when you add freshly sauteed shallots and garlic, you get a totally satisfying flavor profile you’ll want to make again and again!
On top of all of that, the asparagus adds beautiful color and texture. You’ll have to excuse me if I do a little chef’s kiss because this recipe has all that gourmet goodness!
What Is Risotto?
Is it porridge? Is it pilaf? Maybe it’s just a different name for chicken and rice? Well, no! Risotto is its own special dish, hailing from northern Italy, and made with short-grain Italian rice such as arborio. Risotto is an ultra-creamy rice dish made by cooking rice in an open pot (no steaming) and adding the liquid gradually. This gentle and slow-paced approach basically means that you are babysitting your pot of rice, adding liquid every few minutes, and giving it a gentle stir every 30 seconds or so.
The big question is, why? Well, risotto fans love this technique because it turns a basic pot of rice into a finely textured gourmet specialty with well-developed flavor, a gentle al dente bite, and a naturally creamy, starchy “sauce.” Mastering risotto is like mastering the perfect omelette, soup, or even burger.
Ingredients For Risotto
This recipe is best with homemade broth or stock, but it’s also really good with a quality store-bought version. Whatever you have, it’s all good!
- Chicken Broth: To build depth of flavor into your risotto, start with broth instead of water. You will need about four cups of chicken broth.
- Butter: A bit for sauteing the veggies and toasting the rice, plus a little more to stir in at the end.
- Shallots: Finely chop or mince four shallots.
- Garlic: Garlic plays a big part in the overall taste of the risotto, so I use fresh garlic instead of garlic powder here. I recommend pressing the cloves through a garlic press, but you can finely mince them if you prefer.
- Rice: Arborio rice makes the best risotto! It is short-grained rice that cooks up very creamy when making risotto.
- Lemon Juice: You will need about two tablespoons of fresh lemon juice.
- Asparagus: I recommend using thinner asparagus rather than large thick stalks. Trim or break away the tough ends, and cut the remaining tender pieces into 1 to 2-inch sections.
- Parmesan: Delicious freshly grated parmesan cheese packs a lot of flavor.
- Salt and Pepper: To taste.
How to Make Risotto
The key to making great risotto is patience! Make sure to add the liquid slowly and let it absorb almost completely before adding more. Give yourself time and a distraction-less experience. Good LUCK! ?
- Heat the Broth. Heat the chicken broth in a saucepan until it’s warm.
- Saute and Toast the Rice. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the shallots; cook them for until they become translucent. Next, stir in the garlic. Finally, stir in the arborio rice and cook, stirring constantly, until the rice is lightly toasted.
- Begin Adding Liquid. Add the lemon juice and stir to combine. Then add half a cup of the hot broth to the rice, and stir continuously until almost all of the liquid is absorbed.
- Continue Gradually Adding Broth. When the first half-cup of broth has been almost completely absorbed, add another half-cup and stir until almost absorbed. Continue this process until you get to the last half-cup of broth.
- Add the Last Half-Cup of Broth and the Asparagus. When you get to the last bit of broth, add in the asparagus pieces, then stir in the last of the broth. Continue to cook or until the risotto is done and the asparagus is tender.
- Finish the Dish. Remove the cooked risotto from the heat. Gently stir in the parmesan cheese and 1 tablespoon of the butter. Taste for salt, and adjust if needed. Finally, add more lemon if you like a more citrusy taste.
Tips for Successful Lemon Parmesan Risotto
Let’s talk tips! There are a few helpful tricks you should know for making this lemon parmesan risotto shine. I think they really help to make the most of these simple ingredients!
- Choose the Right Rice: The most common rice varieties for risotto include Arborio, Carnaroli, and Vialone Nano. They have high starch content which gives risotto its creamy texture.
- Toast the Rice: Before adding liquid, lightly toast the rice in oil or butter. This step ensures that each grain gets coated and helps maintain its structure during the cooking process.
- Warm Broth: Always use warm broth or stock when adding it to the rice. This helps maintain a consistent cooking temperature and ensures even cooking.
- Stir Regularly: While you don’t need to stir constantly, regular stirring helps release the rice’s starches, which adds to the dish’s creaminess.
- Try Wine: This is a great recipe for adding a little bit of white wine! You’ll be amazed at how this optional ingredient makes the recipe even more amazing.
- Veggie Swap: Not a fan of asparagus? I got you. You can also use green beans, broccoli, mushrooms, or peas! All go perfectly with lemon and parm.
- Add Protein: Want to up the ante? Try placing a little grilled chicken, grilled salmon, or cooked sliced Italian sausage atop of this risotto.
What To Serve With Risotto
- Salad: This Spinach Blackberry Salad with Poppyseed Dressing is packed with tangy, fresh flavor and texture. It is a great contrast with the smooth, creamy risotto!
- Breadsticks: Super easy Garlic Parmesan Breadsticks with Garlic Dipping Sauce the whole family will love!
- Scallops: These Garlic Butter Scallops are really delicious and go perfectly with this lemon parmesan risotto.
- To refrigerate, pack cooled leftover risotto into airtight food storage containers. Store in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- To reheat, place the desired portion in a covered saucepan or skillet with a splash of water, broth, or milk. Heat on low, stirring often, until hot.
- Freezing: Most cooks agree that frozen rice does not usually thaw well. It gets mushy, grainy, and tough. If you decide to freeze risotto anyway, store it in airtight containers and consume it within one month for the best flavor.
- Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.
Lemon Parmesan Risotto
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 3 tablespoons butter, divided
- 4 shallots, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, pressed
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ½ pound thin asparagus, (optional), ends trimmed off, and stalks cut into about 1½-inch pieces
- ⅓ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest, for garnish, optional
- Heat the chicken broth in a small saucepan until it’s warm. You don’t want it boiling; just bring it to a slow simmer.
- In the meantime, melt two tablespoons butter in a 4-quart saucepan set over medium heat.
- Add in the shallots and cook for a minute or two, or until translucent. Stir in the garlic and cook for 20 seconds.
- Stir in the arborio rice; cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until coated in butter and lightly toasted. Add the lemon juice and stir it in.
- Add ½ cup chicken broth to the rice and continue to stir until the liquid is almost all absorbed.
- Add more of the chicken broth in ½ cup increments, stirring after each addition. As soon as the broth is all absorbed, add the next ½ cup of broth.
- When you get to the last ½ cup of broth, add in the asparagus pieces, then stir in the last ½ cup of broth. Continue to cook for 2 more minutes or until the risotto is done and the asparagus is tender. Risotto is ready in about 20 to 25 minutes, or until the rice is tender and the consistency is like a thick porridge.
- Remove from heat. Gently stir in the parmesan cheese and 1 tablespoon butter.
- Taste for salt and adjust accordingly. Add more lemon if you like a more citrusy taste.
- Garnish with black pepper, chopped parsley, and lemon zest, and serve.
- Rice: Use Arborio, Carnaroli, or Vialone Nano for the best creamy texture.
- Toast The Rice: Don’t skip this part; you just need to lightly toast to coat the rice.
- Use Warm Broth: Again, don’t skip this part – it’s important to use warm broth for consistent temperature and even cooking.
- Stir Often to release starches because it helps with the creaminess.
- Add Wine: Enhance flavors with a splash of white wine.
- Swap Veggies: Replace the asparagus with green beans, broccoli, mushrooms, or peas.
- Protein Boost: Top with grilled chicken or salmon.
- Serve Immediately: Risotto is best served right after it’s made. It can continue to thicken as it sits, so the sooner you serve it, the creamier it will be.
- Storage: If you have leftovers, place them in an airtight container and keep them refrigerated for up to 4 days.
Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.