Asparagus, Pea and Herb Risotto

Risotto is a really adaptable dish that you can make with whatever you have to hand.   In my case this meant asparagus, a few frozen peas  and left over chicken from this weeks roast.  What really makes a risotto though is the stock you use to flavour the rice and the herbs at the end to bring out the flavours.  You can, of course, use butter and parmesan at the end to add richness, but I chose not to wanting this risotto to be clean tasting and for the parsley and tarragon that I added at the end to shine and enhance the asparagus.  In fact this whole dish is layered through with herbs and that is what I wanted to highlight.  I like the texture of my risotto to be soup-y but if you prefer a more solid texture then just add less liquid.

I made the stock using the roast chicken carcass and left over chicken gravy, to which I added carrots, onion and celery and then added a couple of bay leaves, a handful of thyme sprigs, parsley stalks and some rosemary along with some peppercorns.   Covered the lot with cold water and brought to a simmer and kept it ticking over for a 4 hours in a low oven (I find this easier than on the stove top).  If you want a more detailed guide have a look at Turkey Stock for a more detailed method.

Apart from that it’s a very easy recipe, although it does need attention in terms of stirring but really with a glass of wine and a few nibbles (perhaps those Parmesan and Herb Shortbread Nibbles) whilst chatting away to a friend or listening to some music makes this a pleasure rather than a hardship.  Incidentally, if you want to up the herbal/botanical input use the noilly part rather than wine it being a vermouth that is infused with lots of them!

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 50g butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 banana shallots or 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 250g risotto rice
  • 750ml chicken/vegetable stock
  • 1 large glass white wine or noilly prat
  • A bunch of asparagus, sliced on the diagonal into 2cm pieces, hard ends discarded
  • 150g frozen peas (petit pois are my preference)
  • 200g ish left over roast chicken (optional) shredded
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper
  • extra sprigs of parsley to garnish


  1. Heat the stock in a saucepan until just simmering.
  2. In a frying pan melt the butter and oil and gently fry the shallot or onion until translucent (about 5-10 mins) but do not let it brown.
  3. Add the rice and allow it to toast for about 2 mins stirring continuously.
  4. Add the wine or vermouth (smells wonderful) and allow the alcohol to evaporate whilst stirring till almost nothing.
  5. Once the vermouth or wine has cooked into the rice, add your first ladle of hot stock and a good pinch of salt. Make sure the heat is down to a simmer so the rice doesn’t cook too quickly on the outside.
  6. Keep adding ladlefuls of stock, stirring and so almost massaging the creamy starch out of the rice.  Allow each ladleful of stock to be absorbed before adding the next. This will take around 15 minutes.
  7. At this point add the asparagus and frozen peas and continue cooking and stirring in stock for another 5 mins.
  8. Taste the rice to see if it’s cooked.  Carry on adding stock until the rice is soft but with a slight bite. Don’t forget to check the seasoning.  (If you run out of stock before the rice is cooked, add some boiling water)
  9. Remove the pan from the heat, add the cooked chicken, if using, and the chopped tarragon and parsley and stir well.
  10. Place a lid, or cover the pan with foil, and allow to sit for 2 minutes  before serving and garnishing with extra sprigs of parsley.



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