1 quart vegetable broth
5 cups water
1/2 pound (about 1/2 bunch) asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cups uncooked short-grain brown rice
2 carrots, trimmed and chopped
2 zucchini, trimmed and chopped
1/2 cup fresh or frozen and thawed peas
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon butter
Sea salt and pepper to taste
Bring broth and water to a boil in a medium pot. Add asparagus and simmer until just tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer asparagus to a bowl of ice water until well chilled, then drain and set aside. Cover broth-water mixture and bring back to a simmer.
Heat oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring gently, until toasted and fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of the broth-water mixture and cook, stirring constantly and adjusting heat if needed to maintain a simmer, until liquid is almost absorbed. Repeat process, adding about 1/2 cup of the broth-water mixture each time, until rice is just beginning to get tender, about 25 minutes. Add carrots and continue process with broth-water mixture. When rice is just al dente and carrots are just tender, add zucchini and cook 5 minutes more. (If broth mixture gets low, add water as needed.)
Stir peas and asparagus into rice and cook until hot throughout, 2 to 3 minutes more. Add cheese, butter, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Add about 1/2 cup more of the broth-water mixture to finished risotto before serving, if you like.