Spring Risotto with Spinach and Asparagus

As soon as we spot the first vernal greens in our market stalls, we simply can’t wait to usher in the Spring Risotto Season. Spinach, peas, artichokes, asparagus, fava beans, ramps: these Primavera treasures call for creamy, satisfying risotti.

For this recipe, we paired a creamy base of spinach with crunchy bites of roasted asparagus, then tied everything together with a lush mantecatura of butter and Vacche Rosse cheese. Watch us in action to learn how to master mantecatura and make the most velvety risotto.

Not an asparagus/spinach lover? You can easily switch the ingredients by using your favorite Spring vegetables!

Ingredients

SERVES: 3-4 people
TIME: 45 minutes

Vialone Nano rice, 300 gr/10 oz
Shallots, 3-4, finely chopped
Vegetable stock, 5 cups
White wine, 1/2 cup
Vacche Rosse cheese, grated, 1 and 1/2 cups
Butter, 2 tablespoons
Asparagus, about 500 gr/1.1 lb
Baby spinach, about 500 gr/1.1 lb
EVOO, 3 tablespoons
Fine sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preparation

  1. Trim and save the woody ends of the asparagus.
  2. Add the trimmed ends of the asparagus to the vegetable stock and bring to a simmer. Keep covered.
  3. Coat the asparagus spears with two tablespoons of EVOO, salt, and pepper. In a sheet pan, cook the asparagus at 450°F for about 10 minutes, shaking the pan halfway through. The tips should be browned and the spears tender. Once cooled, cut into 1-inch pieces, keeping the tips separated from the spears. 
  4. With a blender or mixer, process the spinach with a cup of stock until smooth.
  5. In a heavy-bottomed pan, sauté on medium-low heat the shallots in one tablespoon of EVOO until translucent (3-4 minutes).
  6. Add the rice and increase the heat to medium-high. Stir and toast the grains for a few minutes, then pour the white wine.
  7. Once the wine is reduced, add the pureed spinach to the rice and cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the rice kernels absorb the puree (about 3 minutes).
  8.  Discard the woody ends from the stock and pour it into the rice, a cup at a time, waiting until each additional cup has been absorbed before adding the next one. After about 10 minutes, add the asparagus spears and keep stirring gently.
  9. At the end of cooking time (about 20 minutes), turn off the heat and add butter and grated cheese. Stir until butter is melted.
  10. Let the risotto rest covered for 5 minutes before serving.
  11. Finish each plate with the asparagus tips and some shaved Vacche Rosse cheese.