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"Dirty" Asparagus and Artichoke Risotto

Traditional risotto is perfectly blonde and positively fussy. This "dirty" version punches with Merlot and red onion, adding a bold flavor while simplifying the process. Don't get scared, just get cooking!
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4 servings


  • 1 bunch asparagus (spears cut in half)
  • 4 Tbsp butter (divided in half)
  • 1 red onion (diced)
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 6 oz jar artichoke hearts
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp dried sage


  • First, prepare the asparagus. Cut the spears in half and put in a large saucepan full of boiling water. Boil for 5-7 minutes, until tender but not falling apart. Drain and cool before slicing into small chunks.
  • Next, melt half of the butter (2 Tbsp) in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add the diced red onion and saute until soft, about 10 minutes.
  • Add the rice and stir so all of the butter coats the grains. Let toast for a minute or 2, without letting the rice brown or burn. Add the Merlot and stir to mix evenly. When the Merlot is absorbed by the rice, begin adding your stock, little by little, stirring constantly to avoid burning the bottom of the risotto. After each addition of stock, stir until it has fully been absorbed by the rice before adding more. The end consistency should be cooked rice that is thick, almost like a sauce. It should not be watery, or too thick. If it's too thick, you can add more stock; too watery, and cook until more of the liquid evaporates (still stirring, of course).
  • Towards the end of the cooking process, turn the heat to low and add the herbs, asparagus, and artichoke hearts, and stir until everything is combined. Let sit, covered, for the flavors to meld for about 5 minutes on low heat (just enough to keep it warm and let the rice set up further). Serve on broad plates* and enjoy!


* The reason I suggest broad plates is because risotto is meant to be enjoyed while warm or hot. The way my sister-in-law suggested eating it is to flatten the risotto on your plate and eat from the edges inward. That way, you're always eating the coolest part, and you prevent the innermost portion from continuing to cook with the heat of the food around it. 
Keyword italian, rice, risotto