Asparagus, Pea and Lemon Risotto

Spring is here and although I'm waiting patiently (or not so patiently) for it to feel like spring, there is something in the air that feels like it's right around the corner. I recently got together with friends and had the call for "more recipes" on the blog. Well, Cat, this one's for you.

As I've explained before, risotto has a special place in my heart...and my kitchen. It's so versatile and easy, I love making it. I think a lot of people are intimidated by making risotto, but they really shouldn't be. It's easy, but takes some time and constant watching and stirring. (If you're trying to get your wrists in shape for bathing suit season, this is the exercise for you.)

This recipe gathers together all the fresh flavors of spring. Although I do grow peas, I don't grow asparagus. It's a tough thing to grow when you do mostly container gardening and it takes about 3 years to really provide a decent yield. So, I rely on my local markets. Locally, spring is when asparagus reaches its peak, so take advantage of local harvests when you can.

This recipe is vegetarian, but if you eliminate the cheese, it's also a tasty vegan dish.


7-8 cups vegetable stock
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch diagonals pieces
1 1/4 cup frozen peas, thawed
2 tsp lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste


  1. In a saucepan, heat stock to a simmer. (Don't boil, just heat.)
  2. In a large cast-iron or heavy saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently for about 5-6 minutes or until translucent.
  3. Add rice and stir about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add wine and cook, stirring for about 1 minute.
  5. Add 1/2 cup of stock and cook until absorbed. Continue adding stock, 1/2 cup at a time. When one addition is almost fully absorbed, add another 1/2 cup. Stir frequently. Continue for about 20 minutes or until the rice is fully cooked, but still al dente.
  6. When adding the last or near last batch of stock (about 3-4 minutes to go), add asparagus and stir.
  7. Add peas about a minute before the rice is done.
  8. Turn off the heat and add lemon zest, lemon juice, cheese and remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and stir. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Tip: If you run out of vegetable stock, you can use water as a substitute.

I'm Catherine, a small-space urban gardener in New Jersey (Zone 7a) who started gardening out of upcycled wooden wine boxes. For years, I wanted to try gardening, but didn't know where to start. I got up the nerve to give it a try - starting small with a single wooden wine box that turned an idea into reality. That reality quickly turned into my filling every sunny inch of space of my postage-stamp size lawn and turning it into a garden oasis. I grow mostly vegetables and herbs with some exception for fruits (when the squirrels and rabbits don't get to them first). I love learning from gardening communities (and lots of trial and error).

I hope one day to take all that I'm learning and apply it to a larger plot of land. To help me get there, I'm extending my learning through the University of Massachusetts, Stockbridge School of Agriculture's, Sustainable Food & Farming program. (I'm addicted to learning as much as I am to gardening.)

This blog isn't just for gardeners (although I hope it inspires some of you to try growing a plant or two). The recipes (food & cocktails) in theRecipes section of this blog contain ingredients that don't have to come from your own backyard. If you like visiting your local farmer's market(or even your grocery store) and would like to get some new recipes you can use with the fresh produce and herbs you get from your local growers, this blog will have plenty for you too.

In addition to gardening and cooking, I also love to visit and photograph my surroundings. I feel fortunate to have so many amazing places here in New York/New Jersey, where I live and work. Visits to local farms, farmer's markets, and cycling through rural farming areas help me feel connected and refreshed. share these experiences in theExploring section of the blog so that you might visit through proxy or be inspired enough to visit yourself. 

With very few exceptions, all of the photographs on this site are ones I have taken myself. (For the photographers out there, I shoot with a Canon 7D and sometimes with my Lumix  DMC-ZS15 compact camera.) 

I hope this blog inspires you to grow, create, explore, and try something new. The best way to stay up-to-date is to follow me using the social buttons above, or click Subscribe and sign up for my email newsletters.    

Happy Gardening and Healthful Living!

- Catherine