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Easy Single Serving White Bean Risotto with Asparagus

This white bean risotto with asparagus is a luxuriously rich and flavorful, thanks to the creamy white beans. It’s enhanced with fresh asparagus and a wonderful blend of wholesome and rustic flavors. Its creamy consistency is balanced with a heartiness that makes it an exceptional comfort food. I learned how to make this northern Italian rice dish while living and working in Italy. Truly one of my favorite risotto recipes.

Shallow bowl of risotto topped with asparagus with sprigs of fresh thyme on the table.

Recipe Highlights


  • QUICK– Perfect for those looking for a delicious single serving meal without spending much time in the kitchen. The beauty of risotto lies in its simplicity and the speed with which a creamy, satisfying dish can be brought to the table, making it an ideal choice for busy weeknights or last-minute dinners.
  • EASY – Preparation typically involves just a few key steps: sautéing onions, toasting the rice, and then gradually adding broth while stirring frequently. This simple recipe usually takes about 20 to 30 minutes from start to finish.
  • INEXPENSIVE – The primary ingredients, Arborio rice and beans are relatively affordable and forms the bulk of the dish. The other key components, like onions, garlic, and broth, are kitchen staples that are typically low-cost. Additionally, risotto is versatile, allowing for the incorporation of various leftovers or seasonal vegetables, which can minimize waste and further reduce expenses.

Click the recipe link at the top of the page to go straight to the printable recipe card which includes ingredient amounts with a detailed ingredient list, instructions, and recipe notes. You can also scroll through the post for helpful tips and step-by-step instructions. The recipe card is located at the bottom of the post.

The Ingredients

Fresh asparagus spears, rice, spices and broth measured out for making risotto.
  • Rice: Arborio is an Italian  short grain rice that cooks up exceptionally creamy. 
  • White beans: My go to are canned  Cannellini beans  or  great northern beans. Using canned beans makes this a very quick recipe.
  • Fresh Vegetables: I used asparagus but you can use any in-season quick-cooking vegetable
  • Vegetable Stock:  I normally use the “Better Than Bouillon” brand so I can make exactly the amount needed without any waste.  Of course if you have homemade stock, that is the way to go! You can also use a chicken stock and add a little dry white wine.
  • Thyme:  Fresh herbs significantly enhance the flavors of this dish. Thyme, in particular, is an excellent choice to complement the creamy texture of the beans.
  • Cheese optional but highly recommended: A bit of grated Parmesan cheese over the warm risotto is truly heavenly and adds to the creamy texture.

How to use leftover canned white beans: This Rustic White Bean Stew or my favorite Moroccan Stew is perfect to make ahead and enjoy the next day.

Using White Wine in Risotto

  • The acidity and fruitiness of white wine enhance the overall flavor profile of the risotto. It adds a subtle but distinct depth and complexity that can’t be achieved with broth alone.
  • Also the wine is perfect for deglazing, by adding wine after sautéing the onions and toasting the rice helps to deglaze the pan, lifting any flavorful bits stuck to the bottom. This process ensures that these flavors are incorporated into the dish, adding to its richness.
  • The acidity in the wine also helps in breaking down the starches in the rice, contributing to the creamy texture that is characteristic of a good risotto.
  • White wine imparts a pleasing aroma to the dish, enhancing the overall sensory experience of eating risotto.

Make it a pantry meal.

I like to have several go recipes that don’t require any refrigerated or highly perishable items and this Risotto recipe is easily adjusted.

  • Onions: Although the onions have a medium shelf life, its good to have some dehydrated minced onions on hand if you find yourself without a fresh onion. You can find dried and minced onions in the herbs and spice aisle of the grocery store.
  • Asparagus: You can use a canned asparagus or ones marinated in a jar. But I would suggest eliminating them and opting for a canned mushroom or canned collard greens.
  • Lemon: Use a lemon pepper instead.

Tips For A Perfect Risotto

  • Don’t Rinse: The rice needs its natural starch to achieve that creamy texture we all crave in a risotto.
  • Sauté the Rice First: Don’t skip this step! Gently toast the rice grains in the pan for a short time. This step coats each grain with a thin barrier, helping to maintain the perfect texture by preventing the starch from releasing too quickly and becoming sticky. To enhance the richness of your dish you can saute in butter instead of olive oil.
  • The Stock or Broth: Heated stock is absorbed more efficiently, maintaining a consistent cooking temperature. Traditional risotto often uses a 4:1 ratio of liquid to rice.
  • Stir Regularly: Risotto requires your undivided attention and a gentle, yet frequent stirring. This process is key to achieving the ideal consistency. While it doesn’t demand constant stirring, frequent attention is a must.

Recipe Prep Steps

Zested lemon and aspargus chopped up on cutting board.

Prep 1: Zest the lemon and chop the asparagus.

Onion, garlic and thyme chopped on a cutting board.

Prep 2: Chop and mince the onion, garlic and thyme.

Recipe Directions

Chopped onions and garlic sauteing in olive oil in saucepan.

Step 3: In a 1.5 quart heavy bottom saucepan , heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic. Saute for 1 – 2 minutes until starting to soften

Arborio rice in saucepan.

Step 4: Add the rice. Cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently, until rice becomes translucent on the edges.

Saucepan of Arborio ricce, vegetable broth,fresh thyme,salt, and pepper.

Step 5: Add about a quarter cup of the vegetable broth (or wine) and stir to lift any rice grains stuck to the saucepan. Bring to a boil and add the remaining broth, thyme, salt, and pepper.

Cooked Arborio rice in saucepan.

Step 6: Reduce heat slightly and cook for 15 minutes until the liquid is absorbed, stirring regularly. (leave the saucepan uncovered)

White bean risotto in saucepan and topped with asparagus and lemon zest.

Step 7: Turn the heat to low. Stir in the the lemon zest, asparagus, and white beans. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, stirring regularly until the asparagus is cooked to desired texture.

White bean risotto in black saucepan with serving spoon.

FAQs about “enter name of recipe”

Risotto is done when the rice is al dente. meaning tender but still with a slight bite to it. The overall consistency should be creamy, not too dry or too soupy. A good rule of thumb is to check the rice after about 15 minutes of cooking. If it’s still too hard, continue cooking for a few more minutes, adding broth as needed.

Arborio rice is preferred for making risotto due to its high starch content, which contributes to the creaminess of the dish. While it’s possible to use a regular long-grain rice isn’t ideal as it doesn’t release as much starch and can become mushy. If Arborio rice isn’t available, consider a medium-grain rice like Carnaroli which is a better substitute.

How to Serve

This is a wonderful rustic dinner for one. Alternately you can serve as a side dish for two people.

The risotto should be served immediately and as an added touch, sprinkle a little grated Parmesan over the rice .

Substitutions

In Italy, I made this recipe many times with Mushroom, its so tasty. To substitute using mushrooms you would add them with the onions and garlic and saute for a minute or two.

Shallow bowl of risotto topped with asparagus with sprigs of fresh thyme on the table.

White Bean Risotto with Asparagus

This vegetarian risotto stands out as a remarkably comforting dish. It strikes a delightful balance of being creamy yet not heavy.. Each serving is brimming with vegetables and serves as a great source of plant-based protein.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dinner for One
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 1 bowl
Calories: 384kcal
Author:Sydney Dawes

Ingredients

Instructions

Prep Steps

  • Mince onion and garlic.
  • Trim the ends from the asparagus at their natural breaking point. Cut the asparagus spears into 1 long pieces.

Cooking Directions

  • In a 1.5 quart heavy bottom saucepan , heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic. Saute for 1 – 2 minutes until starting to soften.
  • Add the rice. Cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently, until rice becomes translucent on the edges.
  • Add about a quarter cup of the vegetable broth and stir to lift any rice grains stuck to the saucepan. Bring to a boil and add the remaining broth, thyme, salt, and pepper.
  • Reduce heat slightly and cook for 15 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed, stirring regularly. (leave the saucepan uncovered)
  • Turn the heat to low. Stir in the the lemon zest, asparagus, and white beans. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, stirring regularly until the asparagus is cooked to desired texture.

Notes

  • Thick asparagus will take longer to cook. To start the process, blanch the chopped asparagus in boiling water for 30 seconds.
  • You can substitute butter for the olive oil for a deeper richer flavor.
  • This recipe can also be made with a long grain rice.
  • You can substitute another in-season vegetable.

Nutrition

Serving: 2cups | Calories: 384kcal | Carbohydrates: 68g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Sodium: 710mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 2g
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