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This rich and creamy vegan asparagus risotto is the perfect meal to welcome spring to your table. It’s so good, you’ll wonder how it can be so mouthwatering delicious without any butter! It’s naturally gluten-free and dairy-free.
Ready for some magic? This vegan asparagus risotto is incredibly rich and creamy. So many people believe that the creaminess of risotto comes from tons of butter, cream, and cheese. But all the deliciousness comes from the starch contained in the rice. This risotto is the perfect dinner for springtime, but it’s also a great dish to cook for your vegan Easter table.
And that’s why choosing the perfect rice will make all the difference (keep reading, I will tell you exactly which one you need to use).
Vegan Asparagus Risotto
Asparagus risotto is a classic in Italy. I’ve seen plenty of recipes that include other greens, like peas or broad beans. But the original version is all about celebrating asparagus and let their flavor shine throughout the dish.
Ingredients you’ll need to make this risotto
- Asparagus: Of course! Make sure to use fresh and tender asparagus for the best risotto.
- Rice: In Italy, we say the best rice for risotto is rice that stays al dente after the mantecatura. This is the resting time needed to reach perfect creaminess before serving the risotto. The two best types of rice for risotto are, without a doubt, Carnairoli and Arborio. If you can’t find them, other options are Roma, S. Andrea, or Vialone Nano. Please, please, please, do not use basmati rice or easy cook long grain rice. Basmati rice is starchy enough, but it won’t hold its shape when cooked like a risotto. Easy cook long grain rice doesn’t have enough starch and will end up like boiled rice, without any creaminess.
- Vegetable broth: Make sure you use a good quality vegetable broth. Better still, make your own using carrots, greens, celery, onions, garlic, a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Taste the broth to check that is seasoned well, as it will give the risotto its flavor.
- White wine: Ideally, you want to use a dry wine that isn’t too aromatic.
- A white onion
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Spring onions
- Parsley and fresh thyme: If you don’t have fresh thyme, the zest of one lemon works just as well.
- Pine nuts (optional)
How to make this risotto
Risotto isn’t a complicated recipe, and all in all, it takes around 30 minutes to make. But, unlike other recipes, you’ll need to keep a constant eye on it and stir it for 20 minutes to reach the perfect creaminess.
1. Prep the veggies.
First of all, divide the asparagus tips from the stems. And cut the stems into small chunks. The smaller, the better. Here I made small circles. Then chop the onion. Heat the vegetable broth in a saucepan, and let it simmer gently. The broth needs to simmer for the whole duration. This helps to maintain the rice at the same temperature throughout the cooking. Using cold broth will stop the rice from cooking in just 20 minutes.
2. Roast the asparagus tips.
To limit the use of pots and pans, we’ll start by adding extra virgin olive oil to a pot. Gently cook the asparagus tips for 3-4 minutes, and set them aside. We will use them as toppings for later. In the same pot, add the onion and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
3. Toast the rice.
Add the rice to the pot, and let it toast for 1 minute, constantly stirring to prevent the rice from sticking to the pot and burning. This is one of the most important steps to get risotto instead of a dish that resembles boiled rice.
Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the wine. Keep stirring until the wine has evaporated.
4. Cook the rice.
Now it’s time to cook the rice. Set a timer to 20 minutes. Add the asparagus stems cut into small pieces, then start adding the vegetable broth one or two ladle-full at a time. Keep stirring and wait for the rice to absorb most of the broth before adding more. Continue doing this until the rice is cooked. Please remember that each rice variety will absorb the broth differently, so you might need a bit more or a little less, depending on the rice you are using.
5. Let the rice rest.
After 20 minutes, try the rice to make sure it’s cooked. Adjust with a bit of salt and pepper if needed, add some chopped parsley and fresh thyme, and stir well. Make sure the risotto is not too dry. You want it to be a little loose and sloppy. Creamy, not thick, nor too runny. The idea is that when you plate it, you will be able to flatten it by giving it a little shake. If the risotto is too thick and you have finished the broth, you can add a bit of hot water towards the end.
Then cover with a lid and let the asparagus risotto rest for 3 minutes (this is the mantecatura). Then give it a good final stir and serve, topped with the asparagus tips you cooked earlier on, some fresh thyme, spring onions, and some toasted pine nuts.
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Vegan Asparagus Risotto
- 1 bunch asparagus - (20 to 30)
- 1 onion - chopped
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup white wine
- 5 cups vegetable broth - (see note 2 and 3)
- 1 1/2 cup Arborio rice - (or Cairnaroli rice)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 spring onions
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves - (see note 6)
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
- Divide the asparagus tips from the stems. Cut the stems into small chunks and chop the onion.
- Heat the broth in a saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer.
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot. Gently cook the asparagus tips for 3-4 minutes, and set them aside.
- In the same pot, add the onion and sauté for 2-3 minutes, until golden. Add the rice to the pot, and let it toast for 1 minute, constantly stirring to prevent the rice from sticking to the pot and burning. Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the wine. Keep stirring until the wine has evaporated.
- Now it's time to cook the rice. Set a timer to 20 minutes. Add the chopped asparagus stems, then start adding the vegetable broth one or two ladle-full at a time. Keep stirring and wait for the rice to absorb most of the broth before adding more. Continue doing this until the rice is cooked.
- Adjust with a bit of salt and pepper, add some chopped parsley and fresh thyme, and stir well (note 5).
- Cover with a lid and let the asparagus risotto rest for 3 minutes. Then give it a good final stir.
- Serve in individual plates, topped with the asparagus tips, some fresh thyme, spring onions, and pine nuts (note 6). Vegan parmesan is optional!
If you try this vegan asparagus risotto, please let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!
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