asparagus, artichoke and shiitake risotto

Though it’s still and gusting the kind of evil, icy winds outside that make you grunt as they hit your face and sometimes (er like last night when I accidentally left the window open and spent most of the night under sixteen blankets cursing these landlords who were being cheap! with our heat! Ok, Einstein.) I swear, I will never get warm again, when I began to make a shopping list for yet another thick, hearty, rib-sticking meal on Sunday (Julia Child’s beef bourguignon, if you must know), I just couldn’t do it. Winter has really just begun and I began to feel like I’m caving without even trying to cope. This hibernation, it must stop.

So I threw seasonal eating to the wind and never-minded the ridiculousness of buying asparagus in January (which was perfect, eerily enough) last night, and cooked us the kind of risotto better associated with longer days. Somehow, just saying “See? We’re ready for you,” made me feel like we were luring springtime closer, fighting the good fight, keeping our chins up and horrifying you with clichés, I know, but there was some seriously warmer weather for dinner last night and it’s got me carried away… enough that after a glass (two) of bright white wine, I tried to breathe some fresh air into our place before we went to bed. Ah, well. If you’re like us and your next warm vacation feels like an eternity from now, I highly encourage you to fake yourselves out as we did. Just remember to close the window before you bed, lest winter come back and bite you in the arse.

Asparagus, Artichoke and Shiitake Risotto
Adapted from Gourmet, May 2003

Makes 4 main-course servings.

5 cups chicken broth (40 fl ounces)
1 cup water
1 pound thin to medium asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices, leaving tips 1 1/2 inches long
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
3/4 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
2 large fresh artichoke hearts, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices, prepared*
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice (10 ounces)
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 ounces finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1 cup, though I used half)

Bring broth and water to a boil in a 4-quart pot. Add asparagus and cook, uncovered, until crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer asparagus with a slotted spoon to a large bowl of ice and cold water to stop cooking, then drain and pat dry. Keep broth at a bare simmer, covered.

Heat oil with 1 tablespoon butter in a 4-quart heavy saucepan over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then saute mushrooms, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then transfer to a bowl.

Cook onion in 2 tablespoons butter in saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add shallots and cook until softened, about 2 to 3 minutes, then add rice and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add wine and cook, stirring, until absorbed, about 1 minute.

Ladle in 1 cup simmering broth and cook at a strong simmer, stirring, until absorbed, about 2 minutes. Continue simmering and adding broth, about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently and letting each addition be absorbed before adding next, until rice is just tender and looks creamy, 18 to 20 minutes. (Save leftover broth for thinning.)

Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup cheese, remaining tablespoon butter, and salt and pepper to taste. Gently stir in asparagus, artichokes and mushrooms, then cover pan and let stand 1 minute. If desired, thin risotto with some of remaining broth. Serve immediately with remaining cheese on the side.

* My absolutely favorite artichoke heart preparation is to remove all the outer leaves, choke and stem of a whole artichoke, leaving just the heart. Cut the heart into 1/4 inch slices and toss it immediately in a bowl filled with the juice of one lemon. Make sure each and every edge, angle and side of the hearts gets coated in lemon juice, or they will brown very quickly. In a small pot, boil water with a good glug or two of white wine, a splash of white vinegar and if you’re feeling fancy, a smashed garlic clove and/or a bay leaf. Drop in the artichoke hearts with all of their lemon juice, and simmer them for about 10 minutes, or longer if needed for them to become tender. Drain and set them aside.

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69 comments on asparagus, artichoke and shiitake risotto

  1. Ugh….I hear ya on the temperatures….I’m about 12 hours north of you and it is pure brutality…..assault even… venture outside.

    Love the idea of a springtime meal….we had stuffed peppers and it also had a bit of that summery bite to it. :)

  2. Mmmm, yum yum. I actually just had asparagus last night too, except I paired it with true hibernation fair – pan fried gnocchi in a cream sauce. Ohhhhh thank goodness for comfort food : ) I do know what you mean though, which is why I picked up asparagus in the first place. I’m starting to itch for springtime treats.

    I really like that you added artichoke hearts to this. It sounds very interesting. I wonder if you could use seasoned artichokes packed in oil or if it would be too flavorful. I love artichokes but lately have gotten some bad ones and have been shying away from preparing them fresh. Though they are delicious.

  3. Cathy

    I discovered you a couple of months ago and finally had to come out of hiding to tell you how thrilled I am to have done so! I’ve made the ‘world peace’ chocolate cookies, the coq au vin and I will attempt that amazing lasagna tonight. I’m sure this risotto will be added to the line-up soon. Just wanted to say thanks for the obvious time and effort you put into this website. Your descriptions and photos are amazing.

  4. Yummy. I love risotto and I think that it can be considered a good meal to combat a cold winter’s day. It has such body and texture to it and the heat it generates when it’s put on a plate…I’m getting warm just thinking about it.

    What white wine did you use for your risotto, Deb? I love a good reisling, maybe a Hogue or a Chateau St. Michelle (I think that’s the one…I know the bottle by heart).

  5. I am obsessed with artichokes, so this definitely going on my to do list. I agree that this strikes me as warm and comforting despite its springtime ingredients. And all that stirring at the warm stove probably helps too!

  6. deb

    Rachael — I bet those in oil would work. Though it would be a stronger flavor, the wee artichoke bits did get a little lost (I though, Alex didn’t agree). I only used two because they cost an arm and a leg at our store.

    David — Sob.

    Cathy — Thank you.

    Jenifer — I’ll have to check at home, but a surprisingly good $13 pinot grigio.

    Maggpie — Be careful! I think it was all the standing over the steaming stove with two pots that got me so sweaty and hot, I opened the window. Be ye not as stupid!

  7. How lovely! Thanks so much for sharing this. My mouth is watering!

    Your photos are literally picture perfect — keep shooting!

    I’m lovin’ your blog! I only found it today because of your nomiation for the weblogs award! The very best of luck and congrats! I’ll be visiting again soon I can assure you!

  8. seelife3d

    My boyfriend is crazy about honey. So I thought for Valentines Day I would make him sweets with the main ingredient being honey. Any good recipes you know?

    The risotto I will have to try without the asparagus, maybe replace it with something else, he hates the stuff….bummer

  9. AngAk

    seelife3d, Nigella on the Nigella Bites show on FoodTV had a lovely honey cake awhile back. It even showed how to make the cutest bees with yellow jelly beans and sliced almonds.
    I would have to use the frozen artichoke hearts. I’m afraid artichokes are simply too expensive up here to throw more than half of it away. that would hurt.
    Come up for a visit—we are actually warmer today than you all in the NE.

  10. deb

    I second AngAk’s suggestion of Nigella’s Chocolate Honey Cake. I haven’t made it, but it’s cuteness nearly killed me, and earned it an immediate bookmark. I’d love to hear if anyone else had given it a try. Sliced almonds for bumble bee wings! Couldn’t you just die?

    (I also agree about the price of fresh artichokes. It was a ridiculous misuse for that dollar amount, but I love them so, and was a woman on a mission.)

    I’m sure the asparagus could be replaced with many other vegetables: green beans? Broccoli? One thing I liked about this recipe was the high proportion of vegetables to rice, making it far less dominantly starchy than your typical risotto, and perfect for a main course.

    Jocelyn doesn’t like mushrooms. BUT many many years ago we were at her company’s holiday party and they passed around mushroom potstickers and Jocelyn had one and loved it until I told her what they were and she was horrified I’d let her eat it. I suspect, deep down inside, I could be convinced to try many foods I find squicky this way.

  11. Jezzie

    I love a rissoto…we are not as cold as you but have been having a nip…I made barley soup. G/f loves dried shitake, I abhorr it…I enjoy the fresh ones, she agrees with Joc’s outlook….so boo hoo, but goin with portobello might just suit everyone :)
    Con-grab-u-lations, don’t surprise me a bit, what I love about you is you do what you think best and let the chips fall where they may, and that is just right, innit? Hear hear for authenticity, hoist one on me.

  12. Sarah

    This risotto looks divine, Deb! Anything that involves asparagus, artichokes and risotto can count me in! What a perfect comfort food.

  13. Amy

    I was so excited to try this that I made it last night. It is so wonderful and really hit the spot with me and my husband. We both just cozied in with a bowl each and watched Grey’s Anatomy. What a great meal for a super cold (below zero!!) night.

    Thank you for the inspiration!

  14. Lauren

    I love your website so much, but one thing has been bothering me. Why do you call recipes vegetarian and then have chicken stock in the ingredients list? I know that I can substitute vegetable stock with it and have the exact same results, but I don’t understand why you 1) call the recipe vegetarian, 2) can’t just use vegetable stock?

    This is not a combative comment. I LOVE this site…just hoping for an explanation

  15. deb

    Hi Lauren–I hear you, and I am assuming that a vegetarian would know they can substitute veg. stock. I always used to do that by default when I was one. Mostly, it’s tagged as vegetarian because I’d hate for someone to miss an otherwise totally veg-friendly recipe just because of the chicken stock, but I suppose a little more clarification could help.

  16. I love a rissoto too and I think you chose a excellent combination of vegetables! I feel good vibrations about this (I must prove it). Instead of water, why don’t you use skimmed milk?. I love your site. Bye.

  17. Sarah

    I just finished making this for dinner tonight. It’s absolutely lovely. We went to the farmers market this morning and picked up everything in one fell swoop.
    I used morrels instead of the shitake because that’s all the market had in season, and barley instead of rice because my husband is diabetic, and the barley has a lower GI.
    I also added a few fresh sage leaves because they are taking over my garden.
    Thanks for the ideas!

  18. Nicole

    Another winner from SK! This took wonderfully to modifications I made due to ingredients on hand. Used creminis, added a diced red pepper to the onions after they were tender, proceeded as directed but added one shredded zuchinni with the rest of the veggies at the end (all veggies supplied by my local organic veggie delivery). This was brimming with color and just amazing. Oh, I also added about 1/2 tsp of freshly grated lemon zest at the end – that really reminded one ‘spring’ is in the air. Thanks again!

  19. Emma

    bless you!! i made dinner for myself tonight and actually enjoyed it!!! in fact, loved it :) thanks!!! (i’ll be trying your goulash recipe next)

  20. Mandy

    I just made this the other night and it was delicious!!! We left out the artichokes — we didn’t have any and it’s simply too expensive to buy fresh ones :( — and used a regular onion instead of shallots (my husband does the grocery shopping based on lists I make and he didn’t know what they were, haha). We also made Pioneer Woman’s steak bites and it was simply an amazing meal. Thanks so much for posting this! It’s wonderful to have an alternative to plain rice.

  21. Alexa

    Hi Deb! I’ve been a longtime fan of your site, but this is my first time commenting.. I just couldn’t resist, after making this recipe. We’re snowed in here, and I needed something to warm me up and make me think of the upcoming spring. Well, you’ve outdone yourself. The only change I made was to add a few tablespoons of lemon juice, and used oyster mushrooms because that’s what I had on hand. Thanks a ton for this idea!

  22. cs

    Super Yummy!! Unfortunately the market had artichokes that should have been eaten weeks ago. I used peas, not much of an equal but they did not have frozen artichoke hearts (which are ok) but I can not eat the canned ones–ugh. I dusted with a bit of truffle salt and chopped basil from the garden as a garnish.

  23. Pete

    Great stuff. I didn’t have any chicken broth so I took the tough stalks that I snapped off from the asparagus, tossed them in boiling water and made an asparagus broth. Also, I like to roast the asparagus with a little oil and lemon zest, chop it and then add to the risotto.

  24. Kelly

    I made this last night for a dinner party. I didn’t use artichokes, but it turned out great! I had never eaten risotto, but this is tasty! Thank you for the recipe. I also made your ratatouille recipe. I think I over cooked it a little, but it is great too! I’m going to have to give it to my parents because they grow most of those vegetables in their back yard. Thanks for the recipes, I have definitely become a fan!

  25. April

    I made this for some friends last week, save the artichokes (1. too expensive, 2. not my favorite, especially for that much money), and it was DIVINE. I loved it SO much that I’m making it again this week for another dinner party! I paired it with a nice salad with veggies and vinegarette, and it was a really lovely dinner. Plus, it’s gluten-free for my friend who’s eating with us this week, so that’s a nice plus. (It was also the first risotto I’ve ever made – I was amazed at how easy this was!) Thanks for the recipe :)

  26. Karina

    Risotto, seems so easy to make, but I have a hard time getting it right!
    I have guests coming over for dinner and would love to make this ahead of time, let’s say in the morning (just in case it fails and I can always turn to plan B on time!). How do I go about warming it up again and not getting the rice to look to like wallpaper glue?

    1. deb

      At restaurants, I understand that they cook the risotto about 2/3 of the way (i.e. adding 2/3 of the stock, none of the finishing) spread it on a sheet pan and cover it with plastic until needed. I think it can go in the fridge. Then, shortly before you’re ready to serve it, bring it back to the pan and finish the recipe. There’s no other way to make un-gluey risotto in advance, or none that I know of.

  27. sigh. i knew better and i did it anyway. i used short grain brown rice, which does make a delightful risotto, but only after an HOUR of stirring. sigh. thanks for the recipe, and next time i’ll make sure to actually have enough arborio rice in the house.

  28. marina

    The recipe turned out great but i had to cover the rissotto towards the end in order to soften up the rice. Thanks. easy and great and not too many ingredients or spices :)

  29. Rayna

    I made this today, and instated of using white whine (which i just didn’t have at home) I used Marsala) and it was wonderful. Thank you so much for this great recipe. I loved it!

  30. So good! loved it! I was so proud that my risotto looked almost as good as your photo. I added a little crispy prosciutto on top to make my boyfriend happy and it turned out really well!

    Going to try the spaetzle next – any recommendations of what to make with it in term of a sauce?


  31. Maureen & Dan

    This risotto was amazing! The first risotto that we ever made, and a total winner at that. We used whatever mushrooms we had on hand (don’t remember which, but not shiitake), and it was still wonderful. Thanks!

  32. Leila

    Hi! I am a long time fan. I absolutely love your recipes and your site in general–so beautiful, so creative, so delicious!

    I recently made a version of this risotto with what I had in my fridge. I used a flat mushroom, yellow squash, and asparagus. If anyone is interested you can follow my progress here:

    I’ve just started this blog and smittenkitchen was a huge inspiration and help to me. So thank you, Deb!!

  33. Lizzy

    I just made this tonight and I love it. I forgot to buy white wine so I used a splash of beer (since beer goes with pretty much everything in my book) and I threw in some frozen peas just for fun. I also used canned artichoke hearts. Nice combination of flavors!

  34. Holly

    This was great :) I didn’t use the artichoke and did use a mixture of shiitake and cremini for the mushrooms. One thing that we loved was a drizzle of balsamic glaze over the top. Amazing! The contrast of the creamy rice and the zingy balsamic glaze was perfect. Highly recommend. Will make again, thanks Deb :)

  35. M

    LOVE this! I’ve made it several times. After the first encounter dealing with the artichokes, I just omit them. Sorry! Still very yummy and now shiitakes are my favorite shrooms.

  36. JS


    This recipe sounds delicious and I’d love to make it this Friday for a dinner party, but I have some guests that cannot eat cheese. Is there a substitution you can recommend? Would the recipe be drastically different if I just didn’t include it all together? Please let me know.



  37. deb

    JS — Sorry for the delayed response, you can skip it, or just keep it on the side for those who can enjoy it. It changes the taste of the risotto but it should still be delicious. P.S. If your guests cannot eat parmesan for, say, digestions reasons and not because they are vegetarian or vegan, I highly recommend you simmer a parmesan rind into the broth for a while for the most amazing flavor infusion.

  38. Tamar

    I used dried shiitakes because they were what I had, and three artichoke hearts instead of two, and it turned out great. Thanks Deb!

  39. Kathy

    I was just wondering about the nutritional information. I’m watching my calories and I really want to try some of your recipes! I’m going to be making your one pan farro with tomato’s, this dish, and a few others next week. Is that information located on this site by any chance or do you happen to know it? Thanks!

  40. Carli

    When do you add the shallots? The ingredient identifies them, but I don’t see where in the recipe you involve them. I’m guessing maybe sauteing with the mushrooms, but am not sure. Please advise!
    Thanks for all the years of great recipes!

  41. This is officially one of my favorite recipes! I felt the artichokes to be daunting as I had never bought or prepared them fresh before, but I’m so thankful my husband pushed me (and he actually took over that prep work). We are making this again tonight for my in-laws and am excited to share the love with them :) …even though I know my FIL will pick out all the mushrooms.. oh well, more for me ;) Thank you Deb!

    1. deb

      I haven’t tried it, but probably. Frozen, if you can find them, is my favorite swap for fresh, because they don’t have the tinny taste from the brine in the can or the oily slick from the jar.

  42. Kelly Champion

    You say to saute the onion and then add the shallots but I don’t see any onions, other than the shallots, in the ingredient list.

    1. Nancy

      I used one medium red onion and it was fine. Surprised the recipe has not been edited for this obvious error. Still a good basic risotto.

  43. Claire Weston

    Whenever I see asparagus in season I think of making this dish, it’s easy to veganize, it’s a hit for when you’re hosting dinner, and it still tastes good the next day. I’ve only used canned artichoke hearts (in water not oil) due to cost and convenience and a solid swap if you don’t have access to fresh.
    Love it!

  44. Evelyn Pearl

    Deb, I know this recipe is ancient but do you mind updating it? You didn’t list an onion as an ingredient so I ended up just using shallots in my risotto. I also wasn’t 100% sure how much of the broth to use to cook the risotto. All of it? Or just part of it?

  45. EastWestGirl

    I can’t believe it took me this long to make this! Delicious. I used canned artichokes which seemed to be fine. I’m going to serve it with a delicate white fish next time. Its company worthy.