Shrimp and Asparagus Risotto

Oh risotto.  You’re such a lovely dish and I don’t know why you suffer with such an unfair reputation of being difficult to make.  It’s not your fault.  I suppose at some point somebody in a fancy restaurant somewhere started the rumor so that people would be willing to pay unreasonable amounts of money for such a simple grain-based meal that’s easy to make at home.

Seriously folks.  If you’re under the impression that risotto is difficult to make, let me break it down for you.  Butter is melted.  Onion is sauteed.  Rice is added.  Wine is added.  Broth is added.  Protein and/or vegetables are added.  Cheese is added.  Dish is seasoned with salt and pepper.   Now that doesn’t sound too bad, does it?

I suppose I should mention that there’s also some stirring involving.  OK, there’s a lot of stirring involved.  But as far as kitchen tasks go, I’d like to think that stirring is definitely on the easy end of the spectrum.  Molecular gastronomy it is not.

I often make asparagus and mushroom risotto for myself, but when I’m in the mood for just a little bit of extra protein, this shrimp and asparagus risotto is just the ticket.  And thanks to that rumor floating around, if you serve this to company, everybody will think you’re a total rockstar for making it.


Shrimp and Asparagus Risotto

Yield: 6 servings


* 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
* 1 pound asparagus, washed, ends trimmed and cut on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces
* 3 Tablespoons butter
* 1 small onion, diced
* 1-1/4 cups Arborio rice
* 1/2 cup dry white wine
* 5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
* 3/4 pound medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
* 1 tsp lemon zest (optional)
* 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
* salt and pepper


In a medium saucepan heat the broth over medium-low heat. You want the broth to be nice and hot so that it doesn't slow down the cooking process when you add it to the rice later on.

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the asparagus and cook, stirring frequently, until tender-crisp. Remove from heat and remove the asparagus to a plate or bowl.

In the same large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened and translucent. Add the rice and stir to coat. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid is almost entirely absorbed by the rice.

Add 1/2 cup of the hot broth and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the broth has been almost entirely absorbed. Repeat the process, adding broth in 1/2 cup increments. Start tasting the risotto after adding 3-1/2 cups of broth- the amount you need will vary depending on your rice. You want the rice nice and tender but with a little bite/firmness still left (note: you may end up with leftover broth. In the event that you've added all of the broth but your rice isn't softened enough, you can just use hot water).

Add the shrimp and pre-cooked asparagus and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the shrimp has turned pink and is cooked through. Add the lemon zest (optional) and Parmesan cheese and stir briefly to incorporate and melt the cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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14 Responses to “Shrimp and Asparagus Risotto”

  1. #
    Eileen — May 24, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    I doh't understand why people are intimidated by risotto–it's just a lot of stirring, guys! :) Your shrimp and asparagus combination sounds stunning.


    • CATE — May 25th, 2012 @ 4:20 am

      Agreed! Same goes for polenta… :)


  2. #
    Erin — May 25, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    Hi Cate, I definitely agree with Eileen, the thing with risotto is to have a 'secret' perfect base, then it's time to play with the ingredients. And with your recipe, this is a winner!


    • CATE — May 26th, 2012 @ 7:03 am

      Thanks Erin :)


  3. #
    Beth J — May 26, 2012 at 2:07 am

    I'm new here, and I really enjoy your blog. I hope this doesn't sound rude, but risotto shouldn't be that soupy. That's why it actually is kind of hard: getting the right consistency, the right texture for the rice, the best flavor…. I mean, if you're okay with it soupy, that's awesome. It's just not the ideal risotto.


    • CATE — May 26th, 2012 @ 7:06 am

      Hi Beth- no offense taken. The rice isn't actually hard… it's almost like al dente pasta… with just a little bit of chew.

      The pictures actually make it look much soupier than it was… I tend to like to add a little extra broth at the very end to almost make a cheese sauce, but to each his or her own :)


  4. #
    GF Gidget — May 28, 2012 at 3:02 am

    That sounds and looks absolutely heavenly! I added it to my Pinterest board!


    • CATE — May 28th, 2012 @ 4:28 am

      Thanks for the pin :)


  5. #
    Amrita — June 6, 2012 at 8:29 am

    I've had too many bad gluggy risottos to decide whether I like them at all or not. But yours look so great…I might just have to give risottos one more try!


    • CATE — June 6th, 2012 @ 4:51 pm

      Thanks! They can be heavy sometimes, but they can actually be a great spring or summer dish if you don't go too heavy on the cheese and keep the add-ins relatively light :)


  6. #
    thyme (Sarah) — June 6, 2012 at 11:33 am

    I, too, was under the impression that it is difficult to make! Yay, I have been wanting to make this at home instead of ordering it out. Your photo of the dish looks so wonderful!


    • CATE — June 6th, 2012 @ 4:54 pm

      Thanks Sarah. Yes- making it at home will change your life! OK, so that might be a tad over dramatic but it's nice to be able to make a whole risotto dinner for friends for the same cost as one restaurant meal :)


  7. #
    Maggie — July 22, 2013 at 6:59 am

    This looks wonderful! I’ll be making it ASAP and I agree completely with risotto being overcharged at restaurants. I just love it so much that I always cave if it’s on a menu though (pretty much all I’ll eat at Italian restaurants because pasta and cheese is usually just too heavy/plain to me). I had something very close to this recipe in Chicago that had sundried tomatoes and zucchini in addition to the ingredients you have here. SO GOOD! I think risotto can be a ‘garbage’ base in which you can add sundried tomatoes, mushrooms, zucchini and really almost any veggie you like! Thanks for the recipe. :)


    • Cate — July 24th, 2013 @ 6:03 pm

      Agreed! Risotto is such a great base for all sorts of delicious toppings :)


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