Lemon Risotto with Grilled Shrimp and Asparagus Recipe | What’s Cooking
You don’t need to be a chef to make risotto. Seriously. Especially with this easy shrimp and asparagus version. The preparation isn’t the only thing that’s simple. Fresh shrimp and asparagus get dressed with just a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper and are then grilled for a smoky flavor that still lets the essence of the briny shrimp and crisp-tender asparagus shine through. This creamy risotto also includes a good bit of freshly squeezed lemon juice, which pairs beautifully with both stars of the dish. Add friends, a warm summer night and a glass of great wine, and you couldn’t ask for anything better.
In case you missed it, you can also make risotto in advance for less stressful entertaining. Just follow the method described in our Make-Ahead Risotto Recipe.
Lemon Risotto with Grilled Shrimp and Asparagus
1 pound extra-large (16/20 count) shrimp in the shell
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
3/4 pound thin asparagus, woody stem ends removed, cut into 4-inch lengths
49 ounces (about 6 cups) low-sodium chicken broth
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
2 cups Italian medium-grain rice, such as arborio, vialone nano or carnaroli (see chef’s note)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
Zest of 1 lemon for garnish, optional
Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill, or preheat a gas grill on medium (see our tips for preparing your grill). Preheat the oven to 300°F.
1. One at a time, peel the shrimp, leaving the tail attached. Cut down the center along the back to the tail, cutting almost all the way through. Open the shrimp until it lies flat and lift out the vein using the tip of the knife or your fingers.
2. In a bowl, toss the shrimp with 1 tablespoon of the oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt. In another bowl, toss the asparagus with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place the shrimp on the grill and cook, turning occasionally until opaque, about 3 minutes. Transfer to an ovenproof platter.
3. Place the asparagus on the grill, arranging the pieces perpendicular to the grate so they don’t fall through. Grill the asparagus, turning as needed, until seared with grill marks and crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to the platter with the shrimp. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
4. In a saucepan, bring the broth just to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to very low to keep the broth hot.
5. In a deep, wide saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and stir until the kernels are covered with butter and the rice feels heavy in the spoon (do not toast the rice), about 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring occasionally, until the wine has almost evaporated.
6. Add 1/2 cup of the hot broth to the rice and cook, stirring frequently until the rice has almost completely absorbed the liquid. Adjust the heat to medium-low to keep the risotto at a steady, slow simmer. Continue adding broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until it is almost completely absorbed before adding the next addition; leave 1/4 cup broth for the final addition. After about 18 minutes, the rice grains will be creamy, plump and cooked through but still slightly chewy. If you run out of broth before the risotto reaches this point, use hot water. About 3 minutes before the risotto is done, uncover the shrimp and asparagus and place in the oven to heat through. Stir the remaining 1/4 cup broth and the lemon juice into the rice, then fold in the remaining 1 tablespoon butter along with the Parmesan. Season to taste with salt and pepper. The risotto will thicken slightly as it rests.
7. Spoon the risotto into warmed shallow bowls. Scatter the asparagus over the top, dividing it evenly. Using tongs, embed the shrimp around the perimeter. Garnish with lemon zest (optional). Serve hot, and pass Parmesan cheese at the table.
Chef’s Note: To ensure risotto has the proper creamy texture, you must use medium-grain rice with a high starch content and stir the rice constantly to help release the starch into the cooking liquid. While arborio rice is the most common Italian medium-grain rice, look for other varieties, such as vialone nano and carnaroli. There is nothing wrong with arborio, but the latter are even starchier and make especially unctuous and refined risottos.
Try these recipes and others at a Nordstrom restaurant near you, and find more recipes to make at home in our What’s Cooking series and Nordstrom cookbooks (available in selected Nordstrom restaurants and Ebars).
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—Jeff Powell (Photos and Intro)