Lemon Asparagus Risotto
with Fresh Thyme
This light risotto is bright and elegant, but also has the creamy comfort and decadence you’d expect from the traditional dish. To trim the asparagus in the perfect spot, simply hold one stalk with one hand at each end and gently bend until it snaps. It will break on the line where the tough bottom stalks meet the tender. Cut the entire bunch at that length and then chop into pieces from there.
- 12 ounces asparagus
- 1 lemon
- Fresh thyme
- 1 onion
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil*
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- 1/2 cup dry white wine or water*
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- *not included
Rinse and dry the asparagus, lemon, and thyme. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Trim the asparagus and chop it into 1-inch pieces. Peel and chop the onion and 1 garlic clove. Zest the lemon using the small side of a box grater or a microplane; set aside. Halve the lemon and juice it into a small bowl. Strip enough thyme leaves from the stems to measure 1/2 teaspoon (save the rest for another use).
Add the asparagus to the boiling water and cook until it’s bright green and tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Fish out the asparagus with a slotted spoon and transfer itto a colander; rinse under cool water to stop the cooking process. Put 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until the onions soften a bit, 2 or 3 minutes. Add the rice and toast until it’s glistening and hot, about a minute.
Add 1/2 cup wine or hot water from the large pot and stir until it’s almost completely absorbed. Begin adding hot water from the pot 1/2 cup at a time, stirring after each addition and frequently, and adjusting the heat as necessary so the mixture bubbles enthusiastically without burning. When the water is just about evaporated, add another 1/2 cup; the mixture should be neither soupy nor dry.
Begin tasting the rice after about 15 minutes; it should be tender but still have a tiny bit of crunch (it may take as long as 30 minutes to reach this stage). When it’s ready, add the nutritional yeast, lemon zest, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, thyme, and asparagus and stir. Taste and adjust the seasoning; serve in shallow bowls.