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Lemon risotto with asparagus and zucchini

    part view of bowl of lemon risotto with asparagus and zucchini with fork to side and lemon beside bowl

    Lemon risotto has all the comfort factor you’d expect in a risotto, with the fresh flavors of spring. It’s lighter and brighter, and a delicious meal.

    part view of bowl of lemon risotto with asparagus and zucchini with fork to side and lemon beside bowl

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    We went through a phase where we had risotto pretty often. It’s one of those meals that’s easy to make, you don’t need to be too precise and you can easily adapt it to what you have.

    It’s also a great way to use up leftovers (such as my butternut squash risotto with chicken) and a handy way to sneak veggies in for the kids. In fact, for a while it was my go-to toddler lunch in colder weather.

    fork in front of bowl of lemon risotto with asparagus and zucchini showing lemon zest on top

    Like all good things, though, phases often pass. But then you rediscover them and enjoy them anew, and that’s exactly how I’ve been with this lemon risotto.

    Partly with the change in seasons we kind of got out of the habit of risotto over summer, plus my older son seemed to have gone off it a bit (as kids can be prone to do).

    I don’t like to give in to being fussy but somehow the combination of things meant we stopped really having them. I think that’s going to have to change, though, as this really is too tasty to not repeat more.

    lemon risotto with asparagus and zucchini in bowl from overhead with lemon to side

    how to make lemon risotto

    This follows your typical method of making risotto with just a couple things to note. I prefer to cook the asparagus and zucchini first then set them aside to add them back at the end as I find this keeps them fresher and retains more flavor.

    I have also not put any wine in this risotto since there’s quite a bit of lemon and I’d rather the lemon flavor come through since it works so well in the overall dish.

    Other than that, it’s the same great combination and method of cooking onions and garlic, add the rice then stock a little at a time until it’s absorbed and the rice has cooked. It doesn’t take long to make and while you do need to watch it a bit, you don’t need to watch too closely once the stock is in.

    stages making risotto - adding lemon to rice, adding cheese and almost ready to serve

    Ways to adapt this risotto

    While I’ve kept this simple with asparagus and zucchini (and leek optionally), you can easily adapt this to taste. For example:

    • Try some other light spring-like vegetables such as peas, arugula or snap peas. Whatever you choose, keep them mild in flavor to make sure it doesn’t take away from the lemon.
    • Dice some salmon and add it at the end to cook in the last of the broth then mix through as you add back the vegetables.
    • Top the risotto with some grilled shrimp or fish such as swordfish (if using as a side like this, the recipe below will serve more).

    Lemon risotto is a wonderful way to enjoy the comfort factor of risotto when a cozy bowl might not be quite such a fit. The fresh lemon flavor and bright vegetables give it a great spring vibe, as well as making it delicious. So grab some spring produce, some rice and enjoy.

    lemon risotto with asparagus and zucchini in bowl with fork in front

    Try these other savory lemon dishes:

    bowl of lemon risotto with fork under bowl

    Print Recipe

    Lemon risotto with asparagus and zucchini

    This lemon risotto is a tasty mix of comfort factor and fresh spring brightness.

    Prep Time10 mins

    Cook Time30 mins

    Total Time40 mins


    Race: Hand Race

    Kitchen: Italian

    Services: 3 or 2 large servings

    calories: 541calories

    Author: Caroline’s Cooking



    • 6 spears asparagus approximately
    • ½ zucchini zucchini, large or 1 small
    • 1 leek gold ½ wide (optional)
    • 1 ½ tablespoon butter 15g
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • ½ onion
    • 2 cloves garlic or 1 if large, depending on size
    • 1 ½ cups arborio risotto rice 300g
    • 3 cups light stock 720ml
    • salt and pepper
    • ½ lemon juice and zest ie from ½ lemon, or more to taste
    • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese 10g


    • Cut the asparagus and zucchini into small chunks, and slice and halve the leek. Dice the onion and finely dice or crush the garlic.

    • Heat 1tbsp of the butter in a pan over a medium heat and add the asparagus, zucchini and leek. Cook, stirring regularly until softened, around 3-4 mins, then remove from pan and set aside.

    • Add the remaining butter and oil to the pan. Soften onion 2-3 mins, then add garlic, cook another 2-3 mins until onion starting to brown slightly.

    • Add the rice and cook briefly to ensure well coated in oil/butter mixture. Mix through about half of the grated lemon zest, some salt and pepper.

    • Add the stock a bit at a time (around ½ to 1 cup at a time – see note re if you want to use some wine first), adding more as the last is absorbed. Stir now and again as it cooks – I generally only stir as liquid is absorbed initially but then a little more towards the end when it tends to stick to the bottom more. In all it takes around 20mins.

    • Once all the stock is absorbed, check rice is cooked (if not then add a little more stock) then add the remaining lemon zest, lemon juice and add back the asparagus, zucchini and leek.

    • Add parmesan and stir well.


    Note, before adding the first amount of stock, in step 5, you can add some dry white wine first (around ¼-1/2 cup, 60-120ml). Let it deglaze the pan and largely evaporate before adding stock and continuing as above. While wine is common in many risottos, I don’t typically add here so you can get the full lemon flavor, hence why not listed in ingredients above but as you prefer.


    calories: 541calories | Carbohydrates: 91g | protein: 13g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 18mg | Sodium: 183mg | Potassium: 469mg | fiber: 4g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 765UI | Vitamin C: 21mg | Calcium: 82mg | Iron: 5.6mg

    See some of my favorite cooking tools and ingredients in the Caroline’s Cooking Amazon store.

    See the other cheesy dinner ideas:

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    Lemon risotto with asparagus and zucchini: Lemon risotto has all the comfort factor you'd expect in a risotto, with the fresh flavors of spring.  It's lighter and brighter, and a delicious meal.  Here it's got asparagus and zucchini, but you can easily add more spring veg and it's great with fish.  #risotto #lemon #vegetarian #spring #asparagus

    This post was originally shared in May 2015, and has been updated, primarily with new photos.