This Spring Vegetable Risotto with Asparagus, Peas, Radishes and Leeks is rich, creamy, loaded with seasonal veggies and finished with lots of cheese, lemon zest and fresh herbs. This easy vegetarian dinner can be made in under 40 minutes and is the perfect way to usher in spring!
Spring is one of the most exciting times of year because it's when everything turns green and fresh fruits and veggies are finally back in season. This Spring Vegetable Risotto is one of the first things I make each year when I start seeing local produce at the markets again.
Why this recipe works
- An easy, straight forward risotto recipe that's beginner friendly and quick to prepare.
- Chock full of spring's best veggies like asparagus, radishes, peas and leeks. Veggies are added in the second half of cooking to ensure they're the perfect tender crisp texture.
- Made with white wine, chicken or vegetable stock, lemon zest and fresh chives for tons of flavor.
- Finished with mascarpone cheese, parmesan cheese and a little bit of butter to make it ultra rich and creamy.
- Can be served as a vegetarian main or a side.
- Arborio or Carnaroli Rice - It's essential to use one of these types of starchy rice for risotto in order to achieve its characteristic creamy texture, like in my wild mushroom risotto. Arborio is a short grain rice and more commonly found in grocery stores, but Carnaroli, a medium grain rice, is frequently used in Italy and said to make a creamier risotto. Either Arborio or Carnarolli rice will work great in this recipe - use whichever you prefer.
- Mascarpone Cheese - Mascarpone is often described as Italian cream cheese, but it's less tangy and a bit lighter and softer in texture. It adds the most amazing creaminess and body to the risotto. If you can't find it, don't substitute American cream cheese, instead, used unsweetened whipped heavy cream to achieve a similar effect.
- Parmesan Cheese - Use the best quality parmesan you can get your hands on- it makes a difference. I recommend either Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano, and make sure you grate it fresh!
- Peas - While fresh peas to come into season in spring, they can be finicky to work with. I love using frozen peas because they're picked at their peak and always plump and sweet. Just be sure to let them defrost before using.
Step by step instructions
- Melt 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a large pot over medium heat.
- Add the leeks and stir until translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add rice and stir to toast for about 1 minute.
- Pour in white wine and stir until almost fully absorbed.
- Add about ½ cup of stock and continue stirring about once every 30 seconds.
- Stir in more stock, ½ cup at a time, waiting until it's all absorbed before you add more. Continue adding stock and stirring until you have about one cup remaining.
- Add radishes along with another ½ cup of stock. Stir until the stock is absorbed.
- Add the asparagus and any remaining stock. Season with salt, then continue stirring until the rice is mostly cooked through and the vegetables are al dente. The risotto should be slightly loose. Add more stock as needed.
- Stir in lemon zest, peas and pepper until creamy, then taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter, parmesan cheese, mascarpone cheese and chives.
- Spoon risotto into bowls and garnish with more lemon zest, parmesan cheese and chives. Serve immediately.
Tips for success
- Toasting the rice is an essential step - don't skip it! It prevents the rice from getting mushy by creating a seal around each grain, allowing it to absorb moisture more slowly. But be careful not to toast your rice for more than a minute or it could alter the flavor.
- Make sure your stock isn't cold when adding it to the pan. You can put it in the microwave for a minute or so to warm up or keep it in a pot on the stove while you cook the risotto.
- It's important to stir the risotto often, but you don't need to stir it constantly the entire time. Once or twice about every 30 seconds to a minute is plenty.
- The rice should be al dente when the risotto is finished cooking, not cooked to total mush. And the texture should be slightly loose, not thick and pasty.
- Be sure to add the mascarpone, butter and parmesan right at the end of cooking, off the heat, otherwise the fat will separate and ruin the texture. If you're looking for a lighter, dairy free (vegan) risotto, try my Tomato Fennel Risotto instead!
No. Washing the rice will remove the starch that's key to producing that classic creamy texture.
It probably cooked for a little bit too long. Ideally the risotto shouldn't take more than 20-25 minutes to reach the perfect texture and if it continues cooking past that it will become mushy. Test the risotto when it's nearing the end and stop cooking once the rice is al dente.
The heat may not be high enough. Make sure your risotto is at a constant simmer at about medium heat, but every stove cooks a little differently. If you are cooking at a high altitude, your rice may take a little bit longer to cook and may require a bit more liquid.
This risotto requires the fat from the butter and cheese to give it flavor and body, but if you absolutely cannot have dairy, try substituting vegan butter, vegan cream cheese, a bit of nutritional yeast and a light and fruity extra virgin olive oil.
Did you make this recipe and LOVE it? Please leave a star ⭐️ rating and/or comment to help other readers. I absolutely love hearing from you and do my best to answer all questions and comments. I love seeing when you make my recipes, so please tag me @ColeyCooks on Instagram and I will repost!Print