This baked asparagus risotto combines spring vegetables with cream cheese and herbs for an easy lunch or dinner. With minimal prep time, the oven does the work making it perfect for a busy weeknight. A vegetarian, gluten-free and low histamine risotto recipe.
While I love risotto and often order it in a restaurant, it is a more 'fiddly' recipe to make at home given all the stirring involved in the version you make on the stove top. And yes, you do get a bit of arm ache in the process!
And for another tasty spring recipe, my broccoli asparagus pasta is a lovely comfort food dinner.
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Why this recipe is so good
- Makes the most of spring vegetables: this is a seasonal recipe as asparagus can be hard to find outside the season, but so worth it when you can!
- No arm ache: as a baked risotto, there's no need for lots of stirring on the stovetop.
- Best comfort food: a tasty, healthy and cosy recipe with all the comfort food vibes.
For this asparagus risotto you will need:
- Olive oil, onion and garlic: the base of flavour for the risotto.
- Arborio rice: you need a rice that is specifically for risotto (more on this below!).
- Asparagus, broccoli and zucchini: the spring vegetables for the risotto.
- Thyme and parsley: for that light spring herb flavour.
- Cream cheese: so cheesy (obviously!) and gooey when baked.
- Vegetable broth: make your own or use store bought (watch the ingredients if from the store).
- Salt and (optional) pepper: to season.
Step by step instructions
I always think of baked risotto as having two stages:
1. Gently fry the onion and garlic, then add the asparagus and other vegetables to a large pan. Tip in the rice, give it a good stir, and then add the vegetable stock.
2. Transfer the mixture to an ovenproof dish and bake, covered, for 30 minutes, giving it a stir about halfway through cooking. Add the cheese and fresh herbs and bake for a further few minutes. Plate up and enjoy!
How to pick and prep your asparagus
Asparagus is currently in the supermarket and I am taking advantage. If you are shopping in person yourself then look for asparagus that is clean, has a good colour (no significant browning or bruising) and isn't floppy, which is a sign it is past its best.
To prep your asparagus:
- rinse in cold water
- bend the asparagus until it snaps. Discard the more woody parts after the point where it breaks and enjoy the tips.
- then slice for use in risotto or other dishes, or use a peeler for strips to have in salads.
Rice for risotto recipes
Risotto calls for specialist rice that will absorb the stock, release starch and become creamy in taste and texture.
As BBC Good Food describes, there are a few types of risotto rice. The 'most commonly used risotto rice in the UK is arborio, although Italians may deem carnaroli and vialone nano to be of higher quality. Other varieties include roma, ribe and baldo'.
Personally I always use arborio rice as it is easy to order from the store and works perfectly each time. Seems it makes me a true Brit!
Tips for making this asparagus risotto
- As above, make sure to give the risotto a stir halfway through baking. This will ensure that the rice evenly absorbs the stock.
- The consistency of baked risotto is a little personal. Personally I like mine fairly 'thick' so you can almost stand a spoon up in it, if need be! Others prefer a far thinner and almost slightly runny consistency. If you are in the latter camp add a touch more stock halfway through cooking.
More risotto recipes to try:
There are many risotto recipes to enjoy, some baked, others using the more traditional way to cook:
Baked asparagus risotto
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ white onion diced
- 1 garlic clove minced or finely diced, optional
- 8 asparagus spears diced
- ½ zucchini / courgette diced
- 3 large broccoli florets diced
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 2.5 cups vegetable stock
- 1 tablespoon thyme leaves + more to garnish
- 1 tablespoon parsley leaves + more to garnish
- 2 tablespoon cream cheese
- pinch salt
- pinch black pepper optional
- Preheat the oven to 200C.
- In a large saucepan, or ovenproof dish, fry the onion and garlic (if using) for 3-4 minutes in olive oil or until softened. Add the asparagus, broccoli and zucchini and cook for a further 4-5 minutes.
- Tip in the rice and stir well so it is coated in the mixture. Pour in the vegetable stock and stir well to combine. If using a saucepan, carefully transfer to an ovenproof dish and cover. Bake for 30 minutes, or until it is creamy in texture. Stir the risotto halfway through the cooking time.
- Remove from the oven and stir in the cream cheese, herbs, salt and pepper. Bake for another 3-4 minutes.
- Spoon into your bowls, garnish with more herbs, then enjoy!
- Give the rice mixture a good stir so that the stock is evenly distributed and can be soaked up by the rice.
- If you prefer a more 'thinner' risotto rather than a thicker consistency, add a touch more stock halfway through cooking.
- Using a cream cheese with as few additives as possible is likely advisable.
- black pepper, which scores 2.
- garlic, which scores 1. It has a note 'In small amounts, usually well tolerated after cooking'.
- vegetable stock will vary depending upon ingredients used.