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Published May 1, 2008.   From Cook's Illustrated.


For a flavorful spring vegetable risotto recipe, we simmered the trimmings from leeks and other vegetables in chicken broth before stirring the broth into the rice.


To make this dish vegetarian, replace the chicken broth with vegetable broth; the test kitchen’s favorite brand is Swanson Vegetarian Vegetable Broth (see related tasting). Onions can be substituted for the leeks. If substituting onions, use 1 roughly chopped medium onion (1 cup) in the broth and 2 minced medium onions (2 cups) in the risotto. At the end of cooking, you may have up to a cup of broth left over.


  • Gremolata
  • 2 tablespoons  minced fresh parsley leaves , stems reserved
  • 2 tablespoons  minced fresh mint leaves , stems reserved
  • 1/2 teaspoon  finely grated zest from 1 lemon
  • Risotto
  • 1 pound  asparagus , tough ends snapped off and reserved, spears cut on bias into 1/2-inch thick pieces
  • 2 medium  leeks , white and light green parts halved lengthwise, washed, and sliced thin (about 4 cups), 2 cups roughly chopped greens reserved (see note)
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth  (see note)
  • 3 cups  water
  • 5 tablespoons  unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup  frozen peas
  • 2 medium  garlic cloves , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice (see note)
  • 1 cup  dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 3/4 cup), plus extra for serving
  • 2 teaspoons  juice from 1 lemon


  1. For the Gremolata: Combine ingredients in small bowl and set aside.

  2. For the Risotto: Chop tough asparagus ends and leek greens into rough 1/2-inch pieces. Bring chopped vegetables, reserved parsley and mint stems, broth, and water to boil in large saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover, and simmer 20 minutes. Strain broth through fine-mesh strainer into medium bowl, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Return strained broth to saucepan; cover and set over low heat to keep broth warm.

  3. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in large Dutch oven over medium heat. When foaming subsides, add asparagus spears, pinch of salt, and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until asparagus is crisp-tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Add peas and continue to cook 1 minute. Transfer vegetables to plate and set aside.

  4. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in now-empty Dutch oven over medium heat. When foaming subsides, add leeks, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring frequently, until grains are translucent around edges, about 3 minutes. Add wine and cook, stirring frequently, until fully absorbed, 2 to 3 minutes.

  5. When wine is fully absorbed, add 3 cups hot broth to rice. Simmer, stirring every 3 to 4 minutes, until liquid is absorbed and bottom of pan is almost dry, about 12 minutes.

  6. Stir in about 1/2 cup hot broth and cook, stirring constantly, until absorbed, about 3 minutes; repeat with additional broth 3 or 4 times until rice is al dente. Off heat, stir in remaining tablespoon butter, Parmesan, and lemon juice; gently fold in asparagus and peas. If desired, add up to 1/4 cup additional hot broth to loosen texture of risotto. Serve immediately, sprinkling each serving with gremolata and passing Parmesan separately.


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