COOKING SMART: Spring vegetable risotto

Dave Smart
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By Dave Smart

I think risotto gets a bad rap at times; it’s often described as a difficult and time-consuming culinary endeavour. While it does require some careful attention during cooking, the base method behind risotto is very straightforward. Once mastered, it can be easily adapted to produce available year round. 

This recipe uses fresh asparagus, peas, lemon zest and fresh herbs to highlight the flavors of spring. Give the recipe a try and let me know how you made out. 


7 cups vegetable stock

1 pound asparagus, tough ends removed and cut into 1/2-inch thick pieces

¾ cup fresh peas

6 tbsp unsalted butter

1 cup finely diced onions

1 tsp minced garlic

1 ½ cups Arborio rice

1 cup dry white wine

2 tbsp minced fresh parsley

2 tbsp minced fresh mint

finely grated zest from 1 lemon

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

salt and pepper



Bring stock to a simmer, cover and set over low heat to keep broth warm.

In a large sauté pan over medium heat, heat one tablespoon butter. When foaming subsides, add asparagus spears and cook until asparagus is crisp-tender. Add peas and continue to cook for one minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer vegetables to plate and set aside.

Melt three tablespoons butter in sauté pan and when foaming subsides, add onions, and garlic and cook until onions are softened.

Add rice and cook, stirring frequently. When grains are translucent around edges, add white wine to deglaze the pan. Cook, stirring frequently, until the wine is fully absorbed.

Add three cups hot broth to rice, stirring every three to four minutes, until liquid is absorbed and bottom of pan is almost dry.

Continue adding about 1/2 cup hot broth and cook, stirring constantly, until absorbed and the rice is al dente.

Off heat, stir in remaining butter, Parmesan, asparagus, peas lemon zest, mint, and parsley.

Season with salt and pepper.

Chef Dave Smart owns Front and Central restaurant in Wolfville. If you have any culinary questions, please email him at

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