Meat Free Monday One day a week can make a world of difference

Spring Greens Risotto

Meat Free Monday
  • Serves: 4
  • Preparation: 10
  • Cooking: 30
  • Passive: 5
  • Ready: 45

All the greens are out in this fresh and tasty Spring Greens Risotto!


For the risotto

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 stick celery, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 leek, roughly chopped
  • 300 g arborio or other risotto rice, rinsed
  • 1½ litres vegetable stock, homemade or bouillon
  • 120 g (1 cup ) edamame or broad beans
  • 120 g (1 cup) garden peas
  • 2-3 tablespoons wild garlic/shop bought plant-based pesto/home-made pesto (see below)
  • 2 bunches (400 g/3 cups) asparagus, roughly chopped with ends removed
  • fresh herbs such as dill or parsley to serve
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • salt
  • pepper

For home-made pesto

  • 100 g fresh basil leaves
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 25 g pine nuts, walnuts, cashews (or sunflower seeds if you don’t eat nuts)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast, optional
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons water (plus more as needed)


Put the kettle on to boil ready for preparing the vegetable stock, and place a wide-based, large saucepan over a medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and allow to warm through.

Fry off the finely chopped onion and celery for 5 minutes until the onion is soft and translucent, stirring so it doesn’t catch on the bottom, before turning down the heat and adding the garlic. Meanwhile, prepare the vegetable stock.

Allow the base flavours of the onion, garlic and celery to develop for a few minutes before then adding the rinsed risotto rice. Stir for a few minutes to allow the rice to begin to cook, add another drop of olive oil if it seems a bit dry. You could add an optional half glass of dry white wine here and leave to reduce.

With the vegetable stock made, begin to add a few ladlefuls – around 300-400 ml – then stir and leave the rice to begin to absorb the water. Repeat this process with relaxed attention for the next 10-15 minutes while the rice cooks. You may not need all the stock.

10 minutes in, add the peas and edamame (or broad beans if in season) and allow to thaw if frozen, adding more stock as necessary. When the rice seems nearly ‘al dente’ with just a little too much of a bite and is a few minutes away from ready, tumble in the asparagus and either wild garlic or shop-bought pesto, or home-made pesto (see below).

Cook for 3-4 more minutes, adding more stock if necessary to cook the asparagus gently.

Take the pan off the heat and leave with a lid on for 5 minutes to allow the rice and flavours to settle. You could stir through an optional tablespoon of a dairy-free butter or big drizzle of high quality extra virgin olive oil at this point, just to add unctuousness.

To serve, sprinkle over fresh herbs – dill and parsley work really well, but fresh basil would also add an Italian flavour if you haven’t used a basil pesto. The dish can also be finished with a vegan Parmesan-style cheese or nutritional yeast and plenty of freshly-cracked black pepper.

To make the pesto (if not using wild garlic or shop-bought pesto):

Add the basil, garlic, nuts, lemon juice, nutritional yeast (if using), and salt to a food processor or blender, and blend/mix on high to form a paste.

Add the olive oil gradually.

Add water, a tablespoon at a time, until the pesto is a consistency is quite think but you would able to pour it.

Add more salt, nuts or seeds, nutritional yeast, garlic and lemon according to taste.

Additonal notes

Recipe created for Meat Free Monday by Alexis Tymon

“A note on wild garlic: This wonderful wild allium is found in the month of April all over woodland, both urban and countryside, throughout the UK. If you’re lucky enough to be able to get your hands on some, either self-foraged or at your local market, then try blitzing it (after rinsing and patting dry) in a food processor or herb grinder with a couple of glugs of olive oil and a good pinch of sea salt and black pepper. Store this punchy pesto in a jar in the fridge, sealed with a layer of olive oil for a few weeks. It’s wonderful atop toast smeared with avocado or loosed into dressings, or through pastas and rice dishes like here. As an alternative, a shop-bought or homemade plant-based basil pesto works really well too.”

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