If you need a fabulous side dish for entertaining or meal prep, you must try this Baked Vegetable Risotto with Asparagus and Spinach! It's always a hit! It's gluten free, meatless and can be vegetarian.
Can you tell I'm ready for spring? I couldn't wait to buy asparagus and share this keeper of a recipe with you. Trust me, you need this baked vegetable risotto with asparagus and spinach in your life.
But first, I have to talk about the weather. Not in a boring way, of course.
As much as I love spring, I'm A-OK with the soft blanket of snow currently covering Northeast Ohio. It's actually comforting. Because 70-degree weather in Cleveland during February was simultaneously awesome and unsettling. I was beginning to wonder if Mr. Heat Miser had taken over the controls from Mother Nature.
So, this morning, when I opened the blinds to find a beautiful winter wonderland, I breathed a sigh of relief. After all, March in Cleveland typically means snow.
Inside, though, I'm feeling the spring vibe, thanks to this vegetable risotto. It's an old family favorite I adapted from Cooking Light years ago.
When I told Mom I'm sharing it on the blog today, she was so excited.
"I love that! I like it better than the risotto cooked on the stove."
Of course, she's referring to this Basic Risotto, which my household goes nuts over. However, that recipe requires constant stirring, which isn't always practical.
The beauty of today's risotto recipe is once you get it going on the stove, you bake it, only stopping to stir in the asparagus and extra cheese around the halfway point. It emerges from the oven with a crisp layer of Parmesan on top (I love that part!) and a delicious interior of al dente rice flavored with chicken stock (use vegetable stock if needed), onions and seasoning. Of course, this vegetable risotto is dotted with spinach leaves and perfectly cooked asparagus.
As I mention in the notes, I made a few changes to the original recipe. One of them was doubling it so it fills a 9x13 pan, as shown in the photos. If you've been here before, you know I cook in large quantities to make life easier.
You could decide to halve the recipe and make it in a Dutch oven, but I highly recommend going with my version as written, yielding a 9x13. You'll get 12 side servings or eight full servings, and it reheats/freezes well.
Consider making this baked vegetable risotto for:
- Company (Easter will be here soon!)
- Sunday dinner, saving the leftovers for side dishes during the week
- Meal prep for lunch at work
- A take-in meal for someone who just got home from the hospital
And, it goes well with so many entrées. I served the risotto last night with Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Cream Cheese and Jalapeños (outstanding!)
I hope you guys give this a try! Enjoy!
(Recipe Source: Adapted from a Cooking Light reader recipe submitted by Erin Corry and published in the May 2002 issue, page 162.)
Baked Vegetable Risotto with Asparagus and Spinach
- 1 large white onion
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups uncooked Arborio rice
- 8 ounces fresh spinach leaves
- 1 quart chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
- 1/3 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (divided use, plus extra for serving)
- 1 bunch asparagus (14 ounces, preferably thin stalks)
- red pepper flakes for serving
- Heat your oven to 400 degrees F. Peel your onion and finely chop it. (You will end up with about 2 cups of chopped onion; don't use any more than that.)
- In a 5-quart pot, heat your olive oil on medium-high. Add the chopped onion and give it a stir to coat it with the oil. Let the onion cook for about five minutes, or until tender.
- Stir in your rice until it's combined. Then, stir in your spinach, stock, salt and pepper. Cover the pot and bring it to a simmer. When it starts to simmer, uncover the pot and cook the mixture for seven minutes.
- While the pot is simmering, grate your Parmesan, if needed. (I throw chunks of cheese in my blender.) After the pot has simmered for seven minutes, stir in 1/2 cup of your Parmesan.
- Transfer the rice mixture to a glass 9x13 pan. Cover the pan with foil and bake it for 15 minutes.
- While the risotto is baking, rinse your asparagus and cut off the tough bottoms (cut off and discard the bottom two inches.) Cut the remaining stalks into 1-inch pieces.
- After the risotto has baked for 15 minutes, stir in your asparagus pieces. Sprinkle your remaining 1/2 cup of Parmesan over the top. Cover the pan again and bake it an additional 20 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed.
- Serve the risotto with red pepper flakes, additional Parmesan, and extra salt, if needed. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to four days, or freeze them. The risotto reheats well in the microwave.
The 9x13 recipe serves 12 as a side dish or 8 as an entrée.