Asparagus and Saffron Risotto

By Donna Currie


  • 6-8 cups chicken stock or broth
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup risotto rice, e.g. Arborio, Carnaroli or Vialone Nano
  • Small (very small) pinch saffron
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 pound asparagus, blanched and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 ounces Grana Padano cheese, grated
  • Salt, as needed


  1. Have the stock standing by in a saucepan, gently simmering.
  2. Melt the butter in a 3-quart sauté pan. Add the onions and cook on medium for a minute or two, until they begin to become translucent. Add the rice and saffron – a tiny pinch – and cook, stirring for another minute or two.
  3. Add the wine and stir until the wine is nearly gone. Add a ladle full of stock – about a cup. Cook, stirring often, until the liquid is nearly gone.
  4. Continue adding stock, one ladle at a time, stirring gently but often, each time waiting until the liquid is nearly gone before adding more, until the rice is cooked but a little al dente, and a creamy sauce has developed. This will take about 30 minutes. Exactly how much stock you’ll need and precisely how much time it will take depends on your rice, among other things. You probably won’t need the whole 8 cups, but if something goes awry and you need more, you can use hot water.
  5. Taste for seasoning just before the rice is done and add salt, if necessary. If your stock was salted, you may not need more.
  6. Add the asparagus and cheese (save some cheese for garnish, if you like) and stir.
  7. Serve hot.