A velvety Vegan Asparagus Risotto shot through with a hint of lemon zest and rosemary.
I’m all about Spring. The redbuds, dogwoods and tulips are making the world beautiful, and inside my refrigerator, I have spindly seasonal stalks of asparagus waiting for something delicious to happen to them.
Like this Vegan Asparagus Risotto.
A dash of lemon zest shoots and weaves through creamy grains of arborio rice and tender yet crunchy bits of asparagus. Rosemary adds a soupçon of je ne sais quois. Or maybe it’s the white wine? Whatever. All you really need to know is, this is what heaven in a bowl would taste like.
Making a risotto is simple enough, but making the perfect risotto — now that’s an art. And it’s an art worth mastering, because when a risotto is perfectly made, it rewards you with rice that’s al dente yet creamy, and an overall texture that, according to some, is like a wave, and according to others, flows like molten lava.
You see? When a food inspires poetry, you know it’s not just food to fill your stomach; it’s food to appreciate.
Making a good risotto starts with buying the right kind of rice. Arborio is the most commonly used variety. It’s a medium grain rice that’s starchy, which makes it a good choice for a dish like risotto. Because when cooked with a liquid, the rice will release its starch, creating a creamy cocoon to suspend itself in.
For that starch to be released, you need to toast your rice but not brown it. You also need to add the water in small installments, stirring and mixing after each addition, and checking to see how “done” your rice is. So when you’re making a risotto, the first rule would be to make sure you keep everything handy or, better still, prepped. If you’re looking for a dish to make while you catch up with email, do the dishes and finish up weeding, you probably should save the risotto recipe for another day.
There aren’t too many ingredients in a risotto, so building up flavor with everything you add is really important. This begins with a great vegetable stock. Make sure your stock is at a rolling boil and you are not adding it cold to the risotto. Besides the lemon zest and white wine, another flavor element in this risotto is rosemary (fresh is great, dry works too). I sub the traditional cream with cashew cream, and I stir in some vegan cashew parmesan for a knockout finishing touch.
I love to serve this risotto with roasted beets or with these turmeric roasted root vegetables. I got some lovely sunchokes in my Imperfect Produce box last week, and I sliced them up, roasted them and served them alongside the risotto this time.
You can also serve this Vegan Asparagus Risotto with a big, green salad.
I hope you are looking forward to two days of weekend fun and beautiful weather, wherever you are. If you make this recipe, be sure to let me know in the comments below or by taking a photo and posting it to Instagram with the tag @holycowvegan. I love to hear from you!
Vegan Asparagus Risotto
- 1 cup finely chopped onions (about two medium onions)
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 4-5 cups vegetable stock
- 1 large clove garlic (minced)
- 1 tbsp fresh rosemary (or 1 tsp dry)
- 1 pound asparagus (tough ends trimmed, then cut into 1/2-inch bits)
- 2 tbsp raw cashews
- 1 cup vegan cashew parmesan
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Parsley for garnish (optional)
- Blend the cashews with 1/2 cup of stock and set aside. Use cold or room temperature stock for this preferably.
- Heat the oil. Add the onions and garlic, season with salt and ground black pepper and saute over low heat until the onions are translucent. Don't let them brown.
- Add the rice and continue to toast for a couple of minutes, again not letting it brown. Add the white wine and continue to cook, stirring, until there is no visible liquid.
- Begin adding the hot stock, half a cup at a time, stirring after each addition. When most of the liquid has been absorbed, add another half cup.
- Continue adding stock, until the rice is tender but has a slight bite to it. Before you add stock for the last time, add the asparagus and stir well, then add the stock and continue to cook. The risotto should be creamy and should flow slowly, not glom together.
- Stir in half of the vegan cashew parmesan and the cashew cream. Season with salt and pepper as needed. Stir in parsley if using.
- Serve hot.