Spring Risotto

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Spring Risotto is creamy vegetarian risotto packed with spring produce and bursting with fresh lemon flavor.  Recipe includes tips to make perfect risotto every single time!

spring risotto in a bowl with fork with lemon and oarsley

**This recipe was originally published in April 2016.  I’ve added step by step photos, instructions and recipe tips, and updated the photos.

June has officially arrived, which means there are only a few short weeks of spring left.  I intend to make the most of the last few weeks by making plenty of pasta primavera, asparagus fries and this Spring Risotto before all the spring produce is gone!

It was so nice revisiting this recipe to reshoot the photographs.  It had been far too long since I’d made it last, and I fell in love with it all over again.

It’s spring comfort food through and through. 🙂

Why you’ll love this Spring Vegetable Risotto:

  • It’s nice and creamy, with plenty of texture from perfectly al dente arborio rice and an abundance of spring vegetables.
  • This recipe is packed with flavor from garlic, leeks, fresh lemon juice and zest, and parmesan cheese.
  • It’s an easy meatless meal that’s made in one pot.
  • This meal is customizable using your favorite fresh or frozen vegetables, and may be served as a main dish or side dish.

spring risotto produce

Spring Risotto recipe ingredients

There are only a few ingredients in this recipe, which can be easily customized with your favorite ingredients or utilizing what you have on hand.

  • Arborio rice.
  • Olive oil.
  • Asparagus.
  • Fava beans.  I always cook the fava beans in advance and store them in the refrigerator to add to my recipes.  Fresh or frozen peas may be substituted.
  • Leeks.  May be substituted with white onion or shallots.
  • Garlic.
  • Lemon zest and juice.
  • Vegetable stock.  I used a combination of 4 cups of vegetable stock and 2 cups of water.  Use my Homemade Vegetable Stock or your favorite store bought brand.
  • Butter.
  • Parmesan cheese.

I opted not to include white wine in this spring risotto recipe because the lemon juice and zest provide the acidity that the wine typically adds.  While it’s not necessary, if you’d like to add it, I’ve included instructions in the recipe notes. 

What is risotto?

Risotto is a traditional Italian dish made from short-grain white rice.  The most commonly used rice is arborio rice, which has a higher starch content than traditional rice.  The higher starch content results in a creamier rice. 

Perfect risotto is creamy yet al dente, which is achieved by using the risotto method, or stirring in hot stock in small amounts during the cooking time.  

Risotto is rather high maintenance as it requires frequent stirring.  If you’d like to take a hands off approach, try my Instant Pot risotto!

spring vegetable risotto in bowl topped with lemon, parsley and parmesan

Tips for perfect risotto every time

Risotto has a bad rap for being difficult to make, but it’s really quite easy.  I’ve outlined a few simple things to remember when making risotto, and you’ll get perfect results every single time.

  • Give the risotto your undivided attention.  It’s best not to multitask when cooking risotto as you’ll need two hands — one to add hot stock one ladleful at a time and one to stir.  
  • Use a large, heavy bottomed pan.  A pan with a large amount of surface area will result in risotto that’s cooked more evenly.
  • Always use warm stock when cooking risotto.  Adding cold stock to a hot pot reduces the temperature of the contents and disrupts the cooking process.  I used cold stock the first time I ever made risotto with disastrous results, and I’ll never make that mistake again.
  • Use 4 cups of stock/liquid per every cup of rice.  I recommend using stock for flavor.  I used 4 cups of stock and 2 cups of water in this recipe.
  • Add stock slowly, one ladle full at a time.  Adding the stock slowly allows the rice to absorb the liquid rather than boiling in the liquid.
  • Stir often.  But not too often.  There’s no need to stir risotto continuously — doing so can cool the rice down and may result in gluey rice.  Simply stir a couple of times a minute to keep things moving for perfectly creamy risotto and to prevent burning.  
  • Risotto is best served immediately.  This is not a make ahead dish as the risotto becomes gluey or sticky as it sits.  

overhead shot of spring risotto in bowl with linen alongside

How to make Spring Risotto

Risotto has a reputation for being fussy, but it’s really easy to make if you follow the steps below.

Gather your ingredients.

Prep your veggies and have everything measured out and at the ready.

Heat the stock.  

Bring the stock to a boil in a sauce pan, then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer.  Place a ladle nearby.

spring risotto process collage of sautéed asparagus and toasted arborio rice

Cook the asparagus.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat.  Add the asparagus and cook 2-3 minutes or until crisp tender.  Transfer the asparagus to a bowl and set aside.

Cook the leeks and garlic, and toast the arborio rice.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoon of oil to the skillet.  Add the leeks and sauté 3-4 minutes or until softened.  Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds longer.

Add the arborio rice to the skillet and stir to coat with the oil.  Cook the rice 1-2 minutes longer, stirring constantly until fragrant.

If adding wine, add it at this point and stir the risotto until the wine has been absorbed by the rice.

spring risotto process collage of risotto ready for next ladle of stock and before stirring in vegetables

Slowly add the stock, stirring frequently.

Add one ladleful of stock (about 1/2 cup), stirring frequently until the liquid has been absorbed. 

The risotto is ready for more stock when you can draw a line through the rice with a wooden spoon and the liquid stays put. 

Continue adding the hot stock until it’s all been added.  The risotto is done when it’s nice and creamy yet still firm to the bite.

Add the asparagus and fava beans.

The vegetables should be added during the last minute of cooking.  

Spring risotto collage before and after stirring in butter, parmesan and lemon

Finish the risotto.

Finish up the risotto by removing it from heat and stirring in the lemon zest, juice, butter and parmesan cheese.  Taste, then adjust the seasoning as necessary 

Serve immediately with additional parmesan cheese and lemon, if desired.

Recipe notes

  • Fava beans may be cooked in advance following my recipe How To Cook Fava Beans.
  • The fava beans may be substituted with fresh or frozen peas.
  • If you would like to go the classic route and white wine to your risotto, add 1/2 cup dry immediately after toasting the arborio rice and reduce it down to about 2 tablespoons.
  • The butter adds a silky texture and rich flavor to the risotto, but it may be omitted if you’d like to keep the fat content to a minimum.

close up of bowl of spring risotto with fork in bowl

Try these risotto recipes:

Instant pot risotto

Pumpkin Risotto

Saffron risotto by Epicurious

Short rib risotto

Spring Risotto

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

Spring Vegetable Risotto is creamy vegetarian risotto packed with spring produce and bursting with fresh lemon flavor.  Recipe includes tips to make perfect risotto every single time!

spring risotto in a bowl with fork with lemon and oarsley

Ingredients

  • 4 cups low sodium vegetable stock
  • 2 cups water*
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and sliced on the bias into 1" pieces
  • 1 large leek, light green and white parts, halved and sliced thinly into half moons
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 1 cup cooked fava beans*
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan
  • 1 tablespoons softened unsalted butter

Instructions

  1. Place the stock and water in a sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and continue to simmer.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the asparagus and cook until crisp tender, 3-4 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
  3. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the leek and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds longer. Add the arborio rice and toast in the pan, stirring constantly until toasted, 1-2 minutes..
  4. Slowly add one ladleful (about 1/2 cup) of the warm stock, stirring the risotto frequently. Add an additional ladle full of stock each time the liquid has been absorbed, until all of the stock has been added and the risotto is al dente. The rice is ready for more stock when you can draw a line through the risotto with a wooden spoon and the liquid stays put.
  5. Add the asparagus and fava beans to the risotto during the last minute of cooking.
  6. Remove the risotto from heat and add the lemon zest, juice, parmesan cheese and butter, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Notes

  • Risotto requires full attention, so gather all ingredients before getting started.
  • Fava beans may be cooked in advance following my recipe How To Cook Fava Beans.
  • The fava beans may be substituted with fresh or frozen peas.
  • If you would like to go the classic route and white wine to your risotto, add 1/2 cup dry immediately after toasting the arborio rice and reduce it down to about 2 tablespoons.
  • The butter adds a silky texture and rich flavor to the risotto, but it may be omitted if you'd like to keep the fat content to a minimum.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 218Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 9mgSodium: 158mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 3gSugar: 2gProtein: 5g

Nutrition information is mean to be an estimate only. The numbers will vary based on the quantity consumed, brands used and substitutions that are made.


 

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