Hallmarks of Spring Risotto with Asparagus, Snap Peas, and Fava Beans

Photo by Judy Doherty, courtesy of Séka Hills


Here’s a recipe that truly shows off spring’s fresh asparagus, peas, and fava beans along with garden herbs like mint and chives and the winter season’s new extra virgin olive oil. I much prefer a fruity, grassy extra virgin olive oil with mild to medium intensity for this dish, and suggest seeking out one at Edible East Bay’s online guide, Olive Oil Heaven. An extra virgin olive oil made from Arbequina olives will carry you nicely through the sauté and drizzling steps in this recipe at a competitive price. Corto, Enzo, Gold Ridge, and Séka Hills produce excellent Arbequina (varietal or blends) year after year. The delicate, grassy Olivaia Sevillano (from heritage trees for a taste of California history) would complement the fresh produce beautifully. Also look for blends of Sicilian varieties, the medium intensity, harmonious Bondolio is a fine choice. A mild Taggiasca would work nicely as the finishing oil, with Olive Truck and Séka Hills as good examples. Make sure you are using olive oil from the current harvest, which will be marked on the bottle as the later months of  2022 (October, November, or December 2022). If there’s no harvest date, look for a different brand if you want to make sure you have the freshest product.


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Hallmarks of Spring Risotto with Asparagus, Snap Peas, and Fava Beans

  • Author: Roberta Klugman
  • Yield: Serves 4-6 1x


Units Scale
  • 1/31/2 cup shelled fava beans (about 1 pound if you have fresh fava beans in the pod)
  • 46 spears asparagus, woody ends removed, spears sliced into 1-inch pieces.
  • 812 snap peas (or snow peas), trimmed and strings removed
  • 6 cups vegetable or chicken broth (I often use 5 cups chicken bone broth from Three Stone Hearth thinned with 1 cup water.)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided (Choose a different more nuanced extra virgin olive oil for finishing, if you like.)
  • 1 purple onion or spring onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups rice (Carnaroli or Arborio)
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons chopped mint and chives plus some whole or lightly chopped leaves for garnish
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • Sea salt and finely ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/21 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano (optional)


If you have fava beans in their pods, you have some work ahead to shell them, but I find it a quite pleasurable task. Remove and discard the pod and drop the beans into boiling water for 30 seconds. Transfer beans to an ice bath, and when fully cooled, drain, and remove the outer skin by pinching one end to pop the bright green bean out. Blanch the asparagus pieces and snap peas briefly in boiling water. (I use some of the blanching water to thin the bone broth.)

Heat broth to a simmer and keep it simmering on the stove. Heat 4 tablespoons olive oil in a 10- to 12-inch heavy-bottomed, straight-sided skillet or Dutch oven, add chopped onion and garlic, and sauté until translucent. Then stir in the rice until its evenly coated with oil. Add the wine and stir until it’s absorbed.

Add broth, ½ cup at a time, stirring constantly and keeping at a steady simmer. When rice is creamy and al dente, stir in about half of the vegetables, mint, chives, salt, and pepper. Stir in lemon juice and zest to taste. Stir in the grated cheese (if using) and some of your best finishing extra virgin olive oil. Turn off the heat, cover, and let risotto rest for a few minutes before serving.

Distribute the risotto into shallow bowls and divide the remaining fava, asparagus, and snap peas evenly among the servings, and garnish with the reserved mint and chives. Have extra grated Parmigiano Reggiano and extra virgin olive oil on the table so your guests can add more as they wish. Serve as an entrée or a side dish with grilled or slow-baked salmon. A crisp white wine goes well with this dish.


  • Category: Entrée