Making a Garden Risotto

This is a great way to use leftover vegetables and still be impressive. Serves six people as a first course or side dish.

  • Always use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula when cooking risotto. Hard metal or plastic tools will crack the grains of rice and change the texture of the risotto.
  • Keep your broth simmering as you make the risotto; cold broth will lower the cooking temperature too much. The risotto itself should also be at a gentle simmer throughout the cooking process. If you're not a vegetarian, you can substitute chicken broth for the vegetable stock.
  • Do not rinse the rice prior to cooking. The starch is essential to ensuring a creamy texture in the risotto.
  • Italian short-grain rice is essential for good risotto; Arborio is the most common variety.
  1. Put the broth in a saucepan and heat to a gentle simmer on the stove.
  2. In a medium skillet, add 1/2 tbsp. of the oil and the zucchini. Cook over medium heat for 3 minutes, and then add the mushrooms and asparagus.
  3. Cook for another three minutes and then remove from the heat. Set aside.
  4. Heat half the butter and the remaining oil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the onion and cook for 3 minutes.
  5. Add the garlic and cook another minute.
  6. Add the rice and stir to coat the grains well with the butter and oil. Cook for another minute while stirring gently.
  7. Set your kitchen timer to 14 minutes.
  8. Add the wine, stir and let it cook until the wine is almost completely absorbed by the rice. Add 1/4 c. broth and stir frequently until it is almost completely absorbed.
  9. Continue stirring and adding the broth, 1/4 c. at a time, until it is gone. You should have roughly 1/2 c. broth left when the timer goes off.
  10. Add the asparagus, zucchini, mushrooms, and parsley to the pot. Continue adding the broth and stirring until the broth is gone.
  11. Taste the rice. It should be tender yet firm to the bite, rather like al dente pasta. If it's too hard, keep adding broth or water until it's done.
  12. With the last addition of broth, also stir in the remaining butter, salt, pepper and cheese.
  13. If you run out of broth before the timer sounds, add more broth or water until you hear the timer.
  14. Serve right away.
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 3/4 c. Arborio rice
  • 1 bunch baby asparagus - tips only
  • 1 garlic clove - peeled and minced
  • 1 small onion - peeled and minced
  • 1 small zucchini - stem removed and cut into small cubes
  • 1 tbsp. freshly chopped Italian parsley
  • 1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 c. white wine
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. salt depending on preference
  • 1/4 tsp. white pepper
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 6 c. vegetable broth
  • 8 large cremini (brown) mushrooms - stems removed and thinly sliced

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