Happy Lemon Risotto

The crazier life gets, the more I am won over by the versatility and ease of risotto. It’s serious comfort food, endlessly adaptable and an old standby that can be pulled together last minute with ingredients I almost always have in my pantry (arborio rice, chicken stock, an onion, a hunk of parmegiano reggiano) and jazzed up with a few bits of whatever else is around. While stove-side stirring is required, it somehow feels less stressful than recipes that require a lot of chopping or ingredients…. or thinking!

Before I get to some notes on risotto, here are three of our favorite variations:

  • Lemon Zest, Lemon Juice, Peas — Some Diced Roast Chicken or Sauteed Shrimp Would Be Nice!
  • Crumbled Sausage; a Can of Crushed Tomatoes Mixed with Broth for the Cooking Liquid; Fresh Spinach for Garnish (chiffonade)
  • Roasted Garlic; Toasted Sliced Almonds & a Dollop of Mascarpone (gotta give credit to Jamie Oliver for this one. Here’s his recipe)

Stacie’s Risotto Crib Sheet:

  1. Bring your stock to a simmer (you’ll need ~2.5 cups for every cup of uncooked arborio rice). [Since I had some asparagus I wanted to use up, I just trimmed it and blanched it right in the stock for 2-3 minutes until tender crisp, then set it aside.]
  2. Saute some finely diced onion and celery in olive oil until softened. Add the uncooked arborio rice to the pan and saute for several minutes until it starts looking less chalky and more translucent.
  3. If you have some available, add a splash of white wine (1/2 cup or so) and let it completely absorb before starting to add the stock (if you don’t have any, you can skip it without sacrificing too much). Then, start adding the warm stock one ladle at a time, stirring until the liquid is completely absorbed between each addition. My Italian cooking guru Marcella Hazan says to start checking the rice for done-ness after about 20 minutes.
  4. When you’re getting close to your preferred done-ness, add your goodies [in this case the zest of 1 lemon and the juice of 1.5 lemons, a handful of frozen peas which I didn’t bother defrosting].
  5. Off heat stir in a generous amount of grated parmeggiano and a little pat of butter if it strikes your fancy. Taste taste taste and correct your seasonings. [I scattered my blanched asparagus on top. For a little zip, I also garnished with some finely chopped chives, crispy fried sage leaves (nice for texture and takes the intensity way down), a little squeeze of lemon and drizzle of good olive oil.]

Unfortunately, my little one objects to most green foods lately and picked around the peas & asparagus with determination– even after we made happy face bites on our forks — but my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed this dinner of creamy, lemony, comfort food yumminess which we enjoyed with some crispy fish fillets and sauteed asparagus. Yum yum good!

15 thoughts on “Happy Lemon Risotto

  1. This was a great dinner. You didn’t mention the incredible piece of fish you prepped on top — reminiscent of our incredible meal in Bellagio. I love you Stacie!

  2. I love Risotto & this sounds delicious! I will try making this dish with veg. stock so I can eat it and the boys can pair it with protein (fish on top sounds good).

  3. Getting tempted to try this one! need to go groccery shopping for the ingredients…..different from the stuff we normally eat….looks like will be a good dish for the family…and i think they are going to love it!

  4. We love risotto – and it’s even more fun with those dishes! We have the Naif set and my children love to eat their way down to the pictures. My eldest’s fave is the one inside the house by the fireplace. He ate his risotto with chicken and peas on that plate the other night. I can’t wait to try this recipe with my family – and make asparagus smilies for them too!

  5. I love the simplicity of risotto as well. It’s definitely mindless but in a good way! I love the lemon and peas combination! And your smiley faces!

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