Cheat lemon and asparagus orzo risotto

What’s cooking :

I’m always reluctant to order risotto at a restaurant. It’s an unforgiving dish that is either served at its best or at its worse without much lenience. Requiring experience, time and attention it’s hard to pull off if food reaching your table in 5 minutes is the policy. So I tend to order it only from renown places or I indulge at home when I feel like treating others.

Although I’m very fond of risotto I never make it for myself for more than one reason. Taking the time to cook is obviously a struggle. Furthermore, without the reward of amazing leftovers for the next few days it’s hard to have the discipline to prepare a meal that requires my constant attention for a long period of time. It’s indeed not a dish that gets better overtime. So, after some research and testing I have found something to satisfy my cravings. I’ve come up with a great recipe that still have the creaminess of risotto without requiring hours of preparation and I’m happy to share it with you.



Ingredients and chopped the asparagus

As asparagus are in season it inspired me to make this classic fresh and crisp combination. With the lemon cutting through the richness, the dish feels lighter, allowing the delicate flavors of the asparagus to open up and shine.

Pssss: I believe any kind of risotto benefits from a squeeze of lemon juice, it really is a secret weapon, use it wisely.

Preparation steps

This recipe could easily be modified to replace any of your favorite risotto combination. How about peas and pancetta, mushroom or butternut squash and sage.

Next week I’ll show you a great recipe to transform the second serving of this recipe. Although this would be fine the next day, it really at its peak and fried balls of risotto is so much better, why miss the opportunity?

Lemon and asparagus orzo risotto {weeknight recipe}

Ingredients:

  • 2 cup/500ml Vegetable stock, + 1/2 cup/125ml if needed
  • 1/2 Onion
  • Olive oil
  • 200g Asparagus
  • 1 cup/170g Orzo
  • 1/2 Lemon, zest and juice
  • 1 tbsp Butter
  • 30g Parmesan
Preparation:

  1. Boil the kettle and prepare the stock.
  2. Finely chop the onion and soften in a pan over a medium-high heat with a bit of olive oil until translucent.
  3. Wash and cut the asparagus in small pieces. Keeping the tips aside, add the stems to the onions and cook for 2 minutes (image 1)
  4. Add the orzo and cook for a minute. (image 2)
  5. Add the hot stock to the pan, stir and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook until all the liquid has been absorbed. (image 3,5 and 6)
  6. Meanwhile, grill the asparagus tips in a small saute pan with a bit of olive oil until slightly coloured and still crunchy, about 2 minutes. Season well and keep aside. (image 4)
  7. Once all the stock is gone, taste the orzo to see if it’s ready. If not, add a bit more stock and cook for a bit longer.
  8. Turn the heat off, stir in the butter, the Parmesan, the lemon juice and zest.
  9. Serve in a bowl topped with the crunchy asparagus tips, a few drizzle of olive oil and a crack of black pepper.

Tips:

  • Stirring the pasta vigorously while cooking in the stock helps releasing the starch, making the dish extra thick and creamy.
  • If you find the risotto is to sticky before serving, you can always add a bit of stock to loosen it.
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One thought on “Cheat lemon and asparagus orzo risotto

  1. Looks nice! I also have another reason not to order risotto at a restaurant: I can’t possibly conceive eating rice as “main dish”. I grew up eating rice every day, so to me it’s something that is there, not something that you go out of your way to order (sorry). At home though, I do make it from time to time as a side.

    Yours is great because is a very nice way of cooking both the pasta and the asparagus. It looks amazing, and I will have to try it!

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