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Asparagus and Crab Riso

Riso is a rice-shaped pasta that can be used as a substitute for Arborio rice in a risotto-style dish. The cooking technique here is identical to making risotto, but the end result is lighter than the traditional rice version. This dish makes a nice first course, or in more generous portions, a satisfying single-dish supper.

4 Servings


¾ lb

fresh asparagus

½ cup

unsalted butter (1 stick)

1 cup

finely minced yellow onion

4 clove

garlic (minced)

3 cups

riso pasta, preferably De Cecco #74

5 cups

chicken stock (hot)

½ cup

dry white wine

12 oz

cooked crabmeat (drained)

1 ½ cups

grated Parmesan cheese (divided)

¼ cup

heavy (whipping) cream

Salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)


Cut off the bottom 2 inches of the asparagus spears and place in a small pan. Peel the asparagus stalks (not the tips) and add the peelings to the pan along with 1 cup of water. Place the pan over medium heat and cook until the liquid has reduced to 1/2 cup. Strain, pressing hard on the solids, and reserve the cooking liquid at room temperature.

Meanwhile, steam the peeled asparagus spears until they are just crisp-tender, 2 to 4 minutes, depending on the thickness of the stalks. Immediately plunge the spears into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. When cool, drain well, and cut the stalks crosswise on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces. Set aside.

Place the butter in a large skillet set over medium heat. When melted, add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is tender and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and the riso pasta and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes, or until the riso is hot to the touch and the garlic is fragrant.

Add one cup of hot chicken stock to the skillet and cook the mixture over low to medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the stock is absorbed. Add the wine and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is absorbed. Next add the reserved asparagus liquid, cooking until the liquid has evaporated. Continue in this manner, adding hot chicken stock 1/2 cup at a time, cooking until each addition is absorbed before adding the next installment. Test the riso occasionally so that it doesn't overcook.

When the riso is tender, add one cup of the parmesan cheese and the cream, and stir to melt. Add the crabmeat and reserved asparagus, and gently heat through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot, sprinkled with the remaining parmesan.


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