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Bowl of lemon asparagus risotto topped with shredded basil and parmesan

Lemon Asparagus Risotto


This is the perfect spring and summer risotto - creamy rice with fresh seasonal vegetables, basil and lemon. And it's easy to prepare, using a simple no-stir method. Serve this risotto as a main dish or a side - either way, it's sure to be enjoyed by all!


Units Scale
  • 2 medium zucchini or summer squash (about 1 pound)
  • 1 1/2 cups Carnaroli rice (or arborio rice)
  • 3 tablespoons light olive oil
  • 1 large bunch of thin asparagus (about 1 pound), cut into 1 1/2-inch segments (see notes)
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped shallots (2-3 shallots)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (2 large cloves)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated lemon zest (from 2 lemons)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano (2 ounces), plus more for topping
  • 1 cup of fresh basil leaves, slivered (chiffonade)
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, optional garnish


  1. Grate the zucchini (see notes), put it into a colander and toss with 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Leave for 3 minutes and then pile onto a clean dish towel, bring the corners of towel together to make a pouch, and squeeze the pouch (over the sink) to wring out the liquid. You may have to do this in two batches. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon light olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. When hot, add the asparagus and season with a couple pinches of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Sauté for about a minute and a half, until bright green but still crisp. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  3. Add another tablespoon of oil to the skillet, then add the shallots and cook, stirring, for a minute or two, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook, stirring for 30 seconds. Add the shredded squash and season with pinch of salt and some pepper. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes, transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  4. Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a large heavy pot such as a Dutch oven. Add the rice and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Cook the rice at a bubbling simmer over medium heat for 17 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon to prevent rice from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  5. When the rice is creamy, the kernels al dente, the water absorbed, reduce the heat to low and stir in the zucchini and asparagus. Cook for a minute, stirring to warm the vegetables. Stir in the lemon juice, lemon zest and parmigiana cheese.
  6. Remove from heat and stir in the 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and three quarters of the basil.
  7. Serve the risotto topped with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, some of the remaining basil, and toasted pine nuts, if using. Pass around the pepper mill and extra grated cheese, if you like.


To grate the zucchini, the quickest and easiest method is to use the grating attachment on your food processor. Or you can use the large holes in a box grater.

If using thick asparagus, you will need to sauté them a minute or two longer in step #3.

Reheating Risotto: Risotto can be chilled and reheated. It thickens as it cools so you will need to add water, a little at a time, while heating and stirring, until you get the desired consistency. 

  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: Main dish, Side dish
  • Method: Simmer
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: spring risotto, summer risotto, vegetarian risotto, easy risotto