Mushroom and Asparagus Risotto

by formerchef on February 13, 2010

Mushroom and Asparagus Risotto

Most people think the creamy texture in risotto comes from the addition of lots of butter and parmesan cheese. This can be true, especially when you order it in a restaurant where they may take shortcuts or have a heavy hand with the cheese. In reality, it’s the natural starch surrounding the arborio rice kernel and patience while cooking which creates this effect.

The slow stirring of the rice releases starch which binds with the cooking liquid (stock or water), resulting in a creamy texture without adding a lot of butter or cheese. Traditionally, risotto is finished with a small knob of butter and a few spoonfuls of parmesan, so if you want to add those in, by all means do so. I left them out because I’m still doing the 21 day cleanse diet.  The earthy flavors of the mushrooms and the bright taste of the fresh asparagus (in season now) made for an entirely satisfying meal even without the traditional additions.

Mushroom and Asparagus Risotto
Printable Recipe in PDF

1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
32 oz vegetable stock (or water or chicken stock)
1 onion, small diced (about 8 oz)
1 clove garlic, minced
10 oz mixed mushrooms, sliced (I used button mushrooms, shiitakes, and portobellos)
1/2 lb asparagus spears, cut into 2″ pieces
1 Tbsp plus 2 Tbsp olive oil
1.5 Tbsp Earth Balance vegan butter (or real butter) for finish

Yield: 4 ea-8 oz portions

Heat the stock in a small stock pot to a simmer. You will want it hot when you add it to the rice, but it does not need to be kept boiling.

Saute the mushrooms in a hot pan with 2 Tbsp of olive oil. I did this in two batches so as not to crowd the pan and allow the mushrooms to get nicely browned. If you put too many mushrooms in the pan at one time, the pan will not stay hot, and the mushrooms will release all their water, effectively poaching instead of roasting to a nice brown color. Set aside for later.

Quickly blanch the asparagus pieces, about 2 minutes, until they are cooked, but still firm. Set aside.

Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a large heavy bottomed saute pan or pot. Add in the onions and cook until they are soft, about 4-5 minutes. Don’t let them get too brown.
Add in the rice and cook it with the onions until it becomes lightly toasted, but again, not brown then add the minced garlic and cook for 1 minute more.
Add the wine and stir until it is completely absorbed and evaporated (the rice absorbs the flavor and the alcohol cooks off).

Ladle in 1 cup of warm stock and stir. Reduce the heat to low and continue cooking until the stock is absorbed. Continue adding the stock, slowly, 1/2 cup at a time, as the rice cooks and absorbs it. Keep stirring every few minutes to help release the starch and develop the creamy texture. This will also prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. As it gets the stock gets absorbed, add more.

Once most of the stock is absorbed, check the texture of the rice. It should be al dente, slightly firm in the center, but not crunchy. If it’s still too firm for your taste, add more stock or water.

Fold in the cooked mushrooms and asparagus. Stir in the vegan (or real butter). Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. If you’d like to include some freshly grated parmesan, add right before serving.

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1 Angrboda February 13, 2010 at 12:22 pm

You are my goldmine of awesome stuff to cook for the vegetarian boyfriend! First the thing with squash and aubergine and three kinds of cheese which I forgot the name of, then the pie with cheese and beets and now this! Fantastic. I’m looking forward to trying this one out. 😀


2 formerchef February 13, 2010 at 12:46 pm

Thanks! I actually have quite a few vegetarian recipes. Just click on “vegetarian” in the tag cloud in the right column and you’ll see them all.

3 Tiffany February 13, 2010 at 4:18 pm

Absolutely, absolutely awesome. It’s on my bookmark bar. This is getting done in the next seven days. Swear.

4 formerchef February 13, 2010 at 4:29 pm

Thanks!! If you make it, please let me know how it comes out.

5 Megan February 17, 2010 at 8:17 pm

I love making risotto-the first time I made it I was so nervous, but it just turned out fabulous. Of all the variations I’ve tried, mushroom and freshly grated parmesan cheese is by far my favorite. Yours looks absolutely delicious!

6 Danielle February 21, 2010 at 8:17 pm

Hey Kristina, thanks for your comment on my blog! I also made the black bean soup last week and loved it. Thanks for the healthy recipes!

7 Angrboda March 14, 2010 at 4:45 am

1 year ago today there was a bus stop and a coffee shop. 🙂 I made this for our 1 year anniversary dinner and I can tell you that it was a vast success. Even if the actual making of it took longer than I had expected. I think I turned the heat down too low when adding stock, so it took ages and years and eons for the rice to cook. Live and learn and such. First time ever that I’ve blanched something, for example. I was even told, “it looks just like the picture!” which is not always something that is easy to achieve. 🙂

8 formerchef March 14, 2010 at 4:47 am

So happy to hear it turned out good! Happy Anniversary!

9 Elaine from Cookware Help March 22, 2010 at 2:21 am

How delightful! Risotto is always an awesome dish. Asparagus is one of my favorite veggies and I just bought a beautiful bunch. This is such a perfect way to use it. Thanks.

10 Melody Fury March 22, 2010 at 3:11 pm

What a gorgeous asparagus recipe to celebrate spring’s arrival. Just want to let you know about an asparagus recipe contest that’s super simple to enter and offers gourmet prizes. Hope you’ll join us at Beet ‘n Squash YOU!

Love, Mel

11 Jane @ Built in Cookers April 26, 2010 at 2:58 pm

I’m a big fan of Risotto and with the asparagus. It looks so simple to make I think I could even do this

12 marisa January 10, 2011 at 7:52 pm

this turned out delicious! I added a smidge of cashew cream I already had in the fridge, for a bit of extra creaminess. Wonderful, natural flavors. The perfect vegan dinner (with a side salad)!

13 formerchef January 10, 2011 at 8:45 pm

Marisa- I’m so glad you liked it, thanks for letting me know!

14 NoRecipeRequired June 14, 2011 at 4:38 pm

Love asparagus in risotto, and make my version (link to the video is above). But have not added in the mushrooms before. I like it. They add more substance to the dish, and make a great transition out of winter….into spring. Great Recipe.

15 Troy July 21, 2011 at 6:23 pm

Made this for dinner tonight and all I can say is WOW! I followed it exactly except for the garlic because my partner doesn’t really like garlic. But it was FANTASTIC! The best thing about it is that it’s the best way that I have found to cook basic risotto and then you could really add whatever ingredients you want. I’ve tried various ways of cooking risotto and I must say that from now on this is the only way I will do it!!! Thank you sooooo much!

16 formerchef July 21, 2011 at 6:58 pm

That’s really great to hear! I’m so happy you found it helpful.

17 Maureen Cram March 14, 2012 at 10:43 am

I made this for supper tonight and it is the BEST risotto recipe I have ever made. I learnt two things today – frying the mushrooms in a single layer made a LOT of difference. The second thing I learned was to stir and stir the rice. In the past I have been disappointed with my risottos as I put in the stock and stirred it a bit and left it. Tonight I stirred the heck out of it and it tasted wonderful! Thank you sooooooooooooooooo much for this recipe 🙂

18 formerchef March 14, 2012 at 12:59 pm

Thank you so much for letting me know! It’s one of my favorites too!

19 Stephanie April 30, 2012 at 2:30 pm

This tastes so good! Best risotto ever! Awesome directions and pictures, thanks so much!!!!

20 Margaret January 30, 2013 at 2:28 pm

Thanks for the guidelines! The risotto turned out perfectly. I was glad to discover that the creaminess comes from the rice, not from the cheese and butter. I added no butter and only a little cheese to each serving. So much healthier, and just as delicious!

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