White Asparagus Risotto (Risotti agli Asparagi Bianchi)

White asparagus are in season, and so it’s time to post a recipe that I cooked and photographed last year at the end of the asparagus season. White asparagus are the norm in Northern Europe. Although green asparagus are more common in Italy, there are also white asparagus in Italy. White asparagus are different from green in that you need to peel them and they have a more delicate flavor. Click here for the recipe for green asparagus risotto.

This asparagus risotto uses few ingredients: asparagus, risotto rice, onion, butter, parmigiano, salt, and white wine. The asparagus are braised in butter to preserve their flavor. Half of the asparagus is blended into a cream. The peels and bottoms of the asparagus are used to make a stock, so all flavor of the asparagus is used.

The highest quality asparagus are straight and perfectly white, but for this recipe I used curly and slightly pink asparagus, that are sold cheaply to prevent waste. Since the asparagus are going to be sliced into rounds and partly pureed anyway, the curliness is not an issue.

Ingredients

For 2 servings

500 grams (1.1 lbs) white asparagus

150-200 grams (3/4 – 1 cup) carnaroli rice (or arborio)

1 small onion, minced

5 Tbsp butter, divided

salt

freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese

60 ml (1/4 cup) dry white wine

Instructions

Peel the asparagus and remove the bottom 1 cm (1/2 inch). Reserve the peels and bottoms for the stock. Slice the asparagus into rounds of about 1 cm (1/2 inch), leaving the tips whole (about 5 cm/2 inches from the top).

Put the peels and bottoms in a pot with 1 litre (4 cups) of water. Cover, bring to a boil, and simmer for half an hour. Use a pressure cooker for better flavor extraction.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a wide, low, thick-bottomed pan.

When the butter foams, add the asparagus and season with salt.

Cover and allow the asparagus to braise over medium heat, stirring every 5 minutes or so.

Braise the asparagus until they are tender but firm to the bite and slightly browned, about 15 minutes.

Take the asparagus out of the pan and reserve. Do not clean the pan.

When the stock has finished simmering…

…sieve it into a pot.

Put the peels and bottoms in an old but clean tea towel…

…and squeeze out as much liquid as you can into the same pot. Keep the stock hot.

Add 2 tablespoons of butter to the pan in which you braised the asparagus, and add the minced onion.

Stir over medium heat until the onion is soft and slightly golden, 5 to 10 minutes.

Add the rice, and stir over medium heat until the rice is very hot.

Deglaze with the white wine, and stir over medium heat until the wine has been absorbed.

Add a ladle of asparagus stock…

…and stir over medium heat until it has been absorbed.

As soon as the stock has been absorbed, add more stock. Keep adding stock and keep stirring until the rice is al dente, about 16 minutes.

Put half the asparagus rounds (not the tips) in a powerful blender…

…and blend until smooth.

If you do not own a powerful blender, you could also slice half the asparagus in much thinner slices. Thus you avoid stringy bits in your risotto, as this shortens the fibers of the asparagus.

Add the asparagus cream to the risotto…

…as well as the remaining asparagus.

Add another ladle of hot stock, and stir to incorporate.

Add the remaining tablespoon of butter, cut into pieces, and a handful of freshly grated parmigiano.

Stir until the butter and cheese have melted. This is called mantecare. Allow the risotto to rest for a couple of minutes.

Serve the risotto on preheated plates, sprinkled with some more freshly grated parmigiano.

Flashback

Homemade gelato is wonderful, like this amarena cherry ice cream.

9 thoughts on “White Asparagus Risotto (Risotti agli Asparagi Bianchi)

  1. White asperges are the norm. But yours are not the straight and very white ones you see in the shops over here (Limburg, Dutch asparagus county). Do you prefer these (more flavour?) Or where these just the ones at hand? Yours are the ones we can find very cheap at markets.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Sjaak, I used second grade asparagus because for this recipe first grade (perfectly straight and white) are not needed and they are cheaper and prevent waste. Thanks for reminding me, I have now included this in the article.

      Like

      1. “Soep asperges” that’s what we call them in Zuid Limburg. Just as good as the straight ones. And I like the pinkisch hinge on them.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. What a lovely and very smart way to make risotto! I love the cream. Unfortunately I can’t find white asparagus where I live, but when we traveled through Germany and Switzerland years ago, I enjoyed ham with white asparagus and white sauce on practically a daily basis. It was so good, and the timing was perfect!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Lovely! I live in the southwest of Germany that is famous for asparagus. You can easily find on the market only the heads that are much less expensive. These are perfect for a risotto. Very tender, almost no waste and exactly the size we need for this dish.

    Besides, when I was a child, asparagus season began in the first week of May and ended on June, 24th. Nowadays, you can easily find local asparagus from the last week of March until July. In some regions they use hot cooling water from power plants to warm-up the soil. No kidding!

    Liked by 2 people

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