This flavoursome Lemon Asparagus Risotto is the ultimate Spring comfort food that you can cook in the oven for a delicious midweek dinner with minimal fuss.
No stirring over the stove for ages but the result is still a creamy and light risotto that you will want to make over and over again.
When it comes to comfort food, there aren’t a lot of things that beat a good risotto in my opinion. Dare I say, I ever prefer it to any pasta dish. However, it’s not generally the kind of meal that you can prepare when you’re in a hurry, especially when you have a little toddler calling you from the other room, begging you to read The Gruffalo one more time. This one of the reasons why, for us, risottos have become something to enjoy at the weekend while the husband can do the reading and I can get on with the cooking.
I feel like I’m totally late to the party when it comes to the beauty of making risottos in the oven but old habits die hard I guess and you can totally blame my Italian genes.
In all honesty, after making this Lemon Asparagus Risotto in the traditional way for many years, I was a little dubious that it would taste just as good when made in the oven. I thought it would either end up too mushy or the rice just wouldn’t cook properly. But, hey, it worked a treat and this experiments has opened up a lot more doors for future recipe development.
First things first, to make this recipe you need an ovenproof casserole dish with a lid.
Because I am totally disorganised, I didn’t realise that mine was in the dishwasher as I started cooking. So I resorted to preparing the base for the risotto in a standard pot and then transferring everything into my Pyrex casserole dish (which cannot go on the stove) before popping it into the oven. See, even food bloggers don’t know what they’re doing at times and you should see the state of my kitchen… But that’s a story for another day..
So, using your stove top and ovenproof casserole dish, you fry the red onion and leeks in a little olive oil until soft. Then you tip in the asparagus and continue to cook for a little while until they’re starting to soften. You don’t want to overcook the asparagus as they’ll cook further in the oven. This is what I like to call the risotto “base”.
Next you add the risotto rice and cook for about a minute, stirring constantly, until the rice begins to pop – you’ll see that it goes slightly translucent at the edges which is exactly what you want.
This step is very important in the “science of making risotto” because it’s what will make your risotto creamy but not mushy.
Once you’ve toasted the risotto, add the white wine and continue cooking for a few minutes until absorbed.
Finally, you pour over the vegetable stock, pop the lid on and cook in the oven at 200C degrees for about 25 to 30 minutes until the rice is just tender and the stock has been absorbed.
Finish by stirring in the lemon zest and season with sea salt and black pepper if necessary.
I always enjoy this Oven-baked Lemon Asparagus Risotto with a sprinkle of veggie Parmesan and a rocket salad on the side.
A little word of warning: don’t try to make this recipe unless you are going to use a variety of rice which is suitable for risotto, such as Arborio or Carnaroli.
This isn’t the Italian in me being awkward, I promise you. Without going into too much detail, these varieties are used for their starch content, which is, as I mentioned above, what works its magic in terms of making the risotto creamy but not mushy. Using a type of rice that doesn’t have enough starch will never allow you to achieve risotto’s signature creaminess and therefore the recipe won’t quite work.
I’m very pleased this Lemon Asparagus Risotto turned out so well and, as I’m always looking for easy recipes that the whole family enjoys (including the small human!), I think that oven-baked risottos are going to become a staple in our house. They make for a comforting bowl of good food with zero fuss.Print
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium red onion, chopped
2 leeks, sliced
150g asparagus, chopped
250g risotto rice, such as Arborio or Carnaroli
100ml white wine (optional)
700ml hot vegetable stock
The zest of 1 lemon
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
Vegetarian Italian hard cheese or vegan alternative to serve (optional)
- Heat the oven to 200C degrees.
- Fry the red onion and leeks in an ovenproof casserole dish until soft, then add the asparagus and cook for a further 3 minutes until they’re starting to soften.
- Add the rice, mix well and cook for 1 more minute until translucent at the edges, stirring to stop it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- Pour over the white wine and allow to cook for about 2 minutes until absorbed.
- Add the hot stock, stir to combine, and cover.
- Place in the oven and cook for 25 to 30 minutes until the rice is just tender and all the liquid has been absorbed.
- Remove from the oven, stir in the lemon zest and season if necessary.
- Sprinkle with vegetarian Italian hard cheese (optional) and serve right away with a green salad.
- Suitable for vegans.
- The rice starch is so so valuable when making risotto so never rinse it before cooking it.
Don’t forget to save this recipe to your favourite Pinterest board for later!