A Spring Risotto from the Garden

By Roberta Klugman | Photo by Judy Doherty

Photo by Judy Doherty used courtesy of Séka Hills


I never quite understood the unbridled excitement about fresh fava beans in restaurants—until I grew my own. I find such joy in these substantial beans that I can cook within a few hours—even minutes—of harvest. And while prepping them does take time, it is well worth the effort.

The two raised beds in my small backyard often yield spring harvests of fava, snow peas, snap peas, mint, and chives. If I pick a lemon on the way to the kitchen, this dish becomes a true expression of my spring garden!


Serves 4–6

  • 1 pound fresh fava beans (¹/³–½ cup shelled)
  • 4–6 spears asparagus, woody ends removed, spears sliced into 1-inch pieces
  • 8–12 snap peas (or snow peas), trimmed and strings removed
  • 6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion or spring onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups rice (carnaroli or arborio)
  • ½ 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
  • ½–1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (optional)
  • Your best extra virgin olive oil for finishing

If you are starting with fava beans in their pods, remove and discard the pods and drop the beans into boiling water for 30 seconds. Transfer to an ice bath, and when beans are fully cooled, drain and remove the skin that surrounds each bean by pinching one end to pop the bright-green bean out.

Blanch the asparagus pieces and snap peas briefly in boiling water. Set aside.

Heat broth to a simmer and keep it simmering on the stove.

Heat ¼ cup 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 it is evenly coated with oil. Add the wine and stir until it’s absorbed.

Add broth, ½ cup at a time, stirring constantly and keeping risotto at a steady simmer. When rice is creamy and al dente, stir in half of the vegetables.

Stir in chopped mint and chives along with salt, pepper, lemon juice, and lemon zest to taste. Stir in the grated cheese (if using) and some of your best 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 beans, asparagus, and snap peas evenly among the servings. Garnish with the reserved mint and chives. Offer grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and extra virgin olive oil at the table so your guests can add more of each 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.

A longtime food professional and editorial advisor to Edible East Bay, Roberta Klugman is known colloquially as the Olive Oil Guru. As a native North Dakotan, she never takes the miracle of the Bay Area’s year-round gardens for granted.

See more work by photographer/chef/stylist Judy Doherty at judydohertyphotography.com.