Courgette and Asparagus Risotto Recipe with Pine Nuts, Basil, Mint & Lemon

I hope you're enjoying the British asparagus season as much as we are.  This risotto recipe combines a wealth of late spring flavours and heralds the start of the summer harvest.  Keep the vegetables al dente so there is plenty of bite and adjust the flavours according to personal taste.  The girls love this recipe, but apart from Steve, we all prefer less lemon.  I would advise adding some of the lemon juice, then tasting and adjusting accordingly.

Courgette and Asparagus Risotto with Pine Nuts, Basil, Mint & Lemon

Serves 6


6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
450 g medium courgettes, thinly sliced
400 g fresh asparagus spears, cut into 2.5 cm lengths
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1.2 litres vegetable stock
400g risotto rice (Arborio or Carnaroli)
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp mint, finely sliced
1 tbsp basil, finely sliced
50 g pine nuts, lightly toasted in a dry frying pan
salt and freshly ground black pepper
finely grated Parmesan, to serve


1. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and quickly sauté the courgettes, seasoned with salt and pepper, until just tender. Transfer to a bowl with a slotted spoon.

2. If needed, add another 1–2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan, and sauté the asparagus until just tender. Add to the sautéed courgette and set aside.

3. Put the onion in the same pan, season with salt and pepper, and gently fry until it is soft but not coloured. Add the chopped garlic and fry for a further 30 seconds.

4. Meanwhile, heat the stock to a simmer in a separate, large pan and turn the heat to low.

5. Stir the rice into the onion mixture over a low heat until all the grains are coated and the rice becomes shiny and translucent.

6. Start to add the simmering stock, a ladleful at a time. Allow each ladle of stock to be absorbed before adding the next. Once all the stock has been added (this will take 20–30 minutes), test the rice. It should be tender with bite.

7. Stir in the lemon zest and juice, followed by the mint, basil and pine nuts.  Taste and adjust the seasoning, if needed, then stir the sautéed courgette and asparagus into the rice.

8. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan.

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