A stunning vibrant risotto full of healthy greens. I usually keep this recipe vegan as a healthier alternative to the classic which often has lots of butter and parmesan. And I find that adding the pea pesto right at the end gives that delicious creaminess so that you won’t miss the creamy cheese. However if you are dying to add parmesan, go right ahead!
Be sure to use Italian short grain varieties of rice for your risotto, arborio and carnaroli are great varieties. The shaved asparagus gently cooks through the heat of the risotto right at the end, giving it a lovely bite and the white wine combined with the finish of lemon zest gives a zingy freshness.
For the Pesto:
1 small bunch of basil, leaves only
150g / 1 cup frozen peas
50ml / ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
1 onion, finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
150g / ¾ cup risotto rice
75ml / ¼ cup white wine (optional)
600ml / 2 ¼ cups vegetable stock
1 bunch of asparagus, about 4 stalks
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1. Make the pesto by placing the basil leaves, peas, salt and olive oil in a food processor and blitzing to a smooth puree. Set aside in the fridge while you prepare the risotto.
2. Place the vegetable stock in a saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer.
3. In a deep frying pan, heat 2tbsp olive oil and fry the onion with a pinch of salt, over a medium heat until softened but not taking on any colour.
4. Add the minced garlic and cook for 2 minutes, then add the rice and fry for 2 minutes stirring to coat.
5. Turn up the heat and add the wine. Simmer for 30 seconds to evaporate off the alcohol, then start adding your stock. Add a few ladles at a time, waiting for the rice to absorb all the stock before adding the rest. This can take up to 20 mins until the rice is cooked perfectly, taste to check it is creamy with a slight bite but not too chalky. If you run out of stock before the rice is cooked, just add some boiling water.
6. While the rice is cooking, prepare the asparagus by cutting off the hard ends of the stalks and slicing at a diagonal angle into fine shavings.
7. When the rice is almost cooked, stir through the asparagus to gently cook through, still retaining some bite.
8. Take off the heat and stir through the pea pesto, lemon zest and juice. Taste and season generously with salt and cracked black pepper.