This asparagus and mushroom risotto with bacon is easy to make, full of flavor, and can be on your table in about 30 minutes. Don’t let risotto intimidate you – these easy to follow directions will walk you through every step of the process.Jump to Recipe Print Recipe
I think of risotto as a perfect weeknight recipe. Come home, open the fridge, grab some quick cooking meats or veggies, and mix them into a pot of creamy rice. So many combinations work well. Once you master the technique, keep experimenting!
What is Risotto?
The word risotto comes from the Italian word riso, which means rice. It is generally made from a short-grained rice, cooked in butter with diced onion, then slowly combined with wine and stock. More fat (cheese, cream, or butter), is stirred in at the end along with any additional ingredients. Arborio rice is the most common risotto rice in the US, although Carnaroli and Vialone Nano are also great options if you can find them.
Risotto does requires frequent (not constant) stirring, so you need to be able to pay attention while making it. Fortunately, it comes together pretty quickly. The actual risotto should take about 18 minutes, start to finish. You should expect to stir at least every minute or two during this period.
If you’re interested in more risotto recipes, I highly recommend Norma Wasserman and Judith Barrett’s Risotto cookbook. It’s full of traditional flavor combinations to inspire you, and teaches authentic techniques.
You can also check out my recipe for pancetta risotto with peas.
Ingredients for Asparagus Mushroom Risotto with Bacon
As stated above, Arborio is the easiest risotto rice to find in US supermarkets. Any short-grained rice that is high in amylopectin will do. Other options include Carnaroli, Vialone Nano, or even sushi rice or farro in a pinch. For risotto, the rice is traditionally toasted for a few minutes with a diced onion or shallot and some salt prior to adding liquid. I use garlic as well, because it goes so well with both mushrooms and asparagus.
I use my delicious homemade bacon for this recipe. I’ve used plain equilibrium cured, black pepper/maple sugar, and honey garlic varieties so far. Store-bought bacon is fine as well. Cut it into lardons (small pieces) prior to frying.
I’ve made this recipe with creminis, portobellos, oysters, and shiitakes. It’s best with a blend of a few different varieties, but you can use any mushrooms that you have on hand. Clean them (I like to wipe with a damp paper towel), remove the tough stems from oysters and shiitakes if using, and slice into bite-size pieces. Mushrooms love thyme, so I nearly always add a pinch or two when I sauté some for a dish.
I like to use thin, green asparagus for this (and most) asparagus recipes. Thick asparagus often taste woody to me, and they need to be peeled and/or carefully trimmed. That’s too much work, so I look for thin stalks. In my area, Aldi often has fantastic thin asparagus.
To select asparagus at the store, inspect the tips and the stalks. Everything should be firm and dry. Before cooking, you want to remove the last inch or two of each asparagus spear. I used to snap them individually according to conventional wisdom, but then learned that they don’t actually snap at the most optimal place (learn more here). Now I just buy thin spears and slice off the fibrous ends with one cut of my chef’s knife.
For asparagus mushroom risotto, after you remove the the ends, slice the spears into pieces about an inch long. Give the pieces a quick saute with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and they’ll be ready to add to the risotto. Avoid cooking them along with the rice – thin asparagus cook very quickly, and you don’t want them to be mushy in the final dish.
Hard Italian cheeses are usually best for risotto. I like parmigiano regiano or pecorino romano. Taleggio would work as well. The Kitchn has more suggestions for you to try, but I haven’t personally used any others in this dish.
Liquids for Risotto: Wine and Stock
While some risottos are made with red wine, white is the best choice here. Don’t use anything high end, but also avoid “cooking wine” and the bottom of the bottom shelf. A good rule of thumb is not to cook with a wine that you wouldn’t consider drinking yourself. For risotto you don’t want to use anything sweet, so stay away from most rieslings and some blends. I usually keep a mass market under $10 chardonnay or sauvignon blanc in the door of my fridge to cook with, and they always serve me well.
One cup of wine is incorporated into the rice. Switch to stock after all of the wine is absorbed. The alcohol remaining after cooking is negligible to none, so this dish is completely fine for children and pregnant family members. If you prefer to avoid alcohol entirely, however, you can substitute an extra cup of stock for the wine.
I typically use chicken stock after a cup of wine is incorporated. Homemade or storebought is fine, and pork or vegetable stock would make good alternatives. If purchased, I recommend the reduced sodium varieties. If you use full sodium stock or bouillon cubes, be very careful adding any additional salt to this recipe. Some people swear by keeping the stock hot in a separate pan during this process. I never bother with that step, and my risotto always turns out great. Up to you though, it certainly won’t hurt the finished product.
How to Make Asparagus Mushroom Risotto with Bacon
Start by setting two large pans over medium heat. In one, start the bacon lardons immediately (alternatively, you could cook the bacon in strips in the oven, and crumble them into the risotto). I always start bacon in a cold pan – the fat does a better job of rendering. Stir every few minutes until at desired level of doneness, and remove to a paper towel-lined plate.
In the second pan, drizzle in a tablespoon of olive oil once the pan gets hot. Add the onions, and cook 2-3 minutes or until softened. Add the rice, minced garlic, a tablespoon of butter, and a pinch of salt. Cook for two minutes or until the edges or the rice begin to get translucent.
Add one cup of white wine to the rice mixture. Stir frequently until absorbed – 2-3 minutes. Once the wine has been absorbed, ladle in stock in half cup increments. Wait until one addition has been absorbed completely before adding the next. Taste the rice periodically for doneness – it usually takes 18-20 minutes, and 4-5 cups total of stock.
Cook Asparagus and Mushrooms
While the rice is cooking and once the bacon is done, add sliced mushrooms with a little thyme to the bacon fat in the first pan. Saute for a few minutes, until starting to soften. Salt and pepper to taste. If they appear dry (mushrooms absorb a lot of liquid) add another tablespoon of olive oil. Remove to a bowl once done. Add the asparagus with oil if needed to the same pan, and cook 3-5 minutes or until just tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Mix Bacon, Vegetables, and Cheese into Risotto
Once the rice is finished, stir in first the meat and veggies, then the cheese. Combine well. Turn off the heat. Taste the final product and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve and enjoy!
What to Serve with Asparagus Mushroom Risotto
First of all, this dish can stand alone especially for a weeknight family dinner. It’s a bit heavy, so if you’d like to serve something with it stay on the lighter side. Salads and seafood are a good choice. Here are some suggestions if you’re stumped:
- Beet and Arugula Salad
- Caprese Salad
- Bacon Bread
- Pan-Seared Salmon
- Bacon-Wrapped Scallops
- Fish Picatta
- Skewered Shrimp
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Asparagus Mushroom Risotto with Bacon
- 8 oz bacon sliced into lardons
- 1 lb asparagus thin, trimmed, cut into 1" spears
- 8 oz fresh mushrooms chopped
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil divided
- 1 tsp thyme dried
- 1 onion diced
- 2 cups short-grained risotto rice arborio, carnaroli, or vialone nano
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 cup white wine dry
- 1/2 cup parmesan freshly grated
- salt and pepper to taste
- Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Immediately add bacon pieces to one, while still cold. Cook about 15 minutes, stirring frequently, or until it has reached your desired doneness. Remove bacon to a paper towel-lined plate, leaving rendered fat in the pan.
- Heat a wide-bottomed pan over medium heat. Add 1 tbsp olive oil. Add diced onion to hot oil and cook about 2 min or until softened. Add risotto rice, miced garlic, butter, and a pinch of salt. Stir for 2 min or until edges of rice grains become translucent. Add wine to pan. Cook about 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until wine has been absorbed by the rice.
- Once wine is absorbed, begin to add stock in 1/2 cup increments. Stir frequently. Add another 1/2 cup when the previous has been almost entirely absorbed, about every 2-3 minutes.
- Once the bacon has finished, while cooking the rice, add mushrooms and thyme to the rendered bacon fat in the frying pan, Add salt and pepper to taste once mushrooms begin to brown. Cook about 5 minutes or until tender. Remove to a bowl.
- Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the frying pan. Add asparagus pieces. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until crisp but tender.
- Stir bacon, mushrooms, and asparagus into risotto. Add cheese. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Enjoy!