Friday, June 28, 2013

Spring Lemon Risotto

To accompany my lamb chops, I served a Spring Lemon Risotto. It serves as a side of starch and veggies in one!

Risotto is a labor of love due to time and "supervision" it reuqires, but you can make it with minmal ingredients. I usually have the basic ones on hand. To liven it up, I like to add lemon and bright, crunchy green vegetables.  

Basic Risotto
Aromatics + Rice + White Wine + Stock + Cheese 
(plus pantry staples like EVOO, butter, salt & pepper)

Aromatics: Use one or some of these kinds: shallots, onion, leeks. You can saute in fennel, too. 

Rice: Aborio rice is key. You should not use other short or long-grain rice. You can try alternatives with farro or brown rice (served at Musha Restaurant in Torrance or Santa Monica). 

White Wine: I use any dry (non-sweet) white wine I have on hand be it cabernet sauvignon, pinot grigio, or chardonnay.

Stock: It can be chicken, beef, or veggie. I always use chicken, unless I want a richer flavor, then I use beef (e.g., mushroom risotto). You can used reduced sodium, too. The organic one I buy from Costco isn't available in the less salted version.

Cheese: Parmesan Cheese is a staple. You can try to add in some Pecorino Romano and finish with some Marscapone chesee, too. But, I wouldn't completely substitute. 

Cream (not listed above): Heavy cream, milk, or half and half. I like my risottos to be ligher, so I skip or skimp on the dairy, depending on how I feel. I use what I have on hand.

Original recipe here 


  • 1 large shallot
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons EVOO (eyeball it in the pan)
  • 1 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 2/3 cup dry white wine 
  • 4 to 5 cups simmering chicken stock 
  • 3/4 pound thin asparagus (1/3 of the Costco bag size, shown below)
  • 3/4 sugar snap peas (1/2 of the Costco bag size, shown below)
  • 1 large lemon
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
  • Cream


Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and saute for a few minutes, until tender and translucent. 

I bought these shallots at an Asian market. They are small and round, not oval and oblong like the usual. I used three to compensate for size.

Add the rice and stir for a minute to coat with oil. Add the white wine and simmer over low heat, stirring constantly, until most of the wine has been absorbed.

Add the chicken stock 1-2 ladles at a time, stirring almost constantly and waiting for the stock to be absorbed before adding more. This process should take 20-25 minutes.


Meanwhile, cut the asparagus diagonally in 1 1/2-inch lengths and discard the tough ends. Blanch in boiling salted water for 4-5 minutes, until al dente. Drain and cool immediately in ice water. 

Cut sugar snap peas into thirds. I wanted these pieces to be smaller since they are in place of sweet peas in original recipe. Blanch for 2-3 minutes in same boiling water. I like my peas to be very crunchy. Drain and cool immediately in ice water. 

If you are grating fresh parm, you can do this while your veggies are cooking. Grating your own cheese may be inconvenient, but it's cheaper than to buy the packaged kind. I buy a cheese wedge from Costco and it lasts me several months, but can keep much longer. 

When the risotto has been cooking for 15 minutes, drain the veggies and add it to the risotto with the peas, zest of one lemon, 2 teaspoons salt & 1 teaspoon pepper, and butter. 

Continue cooking and adding stock, stirring almost constantly, until the rice is tender but still firm.

Stir in juice of half the lemon. If desired, you can also add a bit of cream or marscapone cheese. I added just a bit of half and half to give it a creamy color.

When the risotto is done, turn off the heat and stir Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle more salt & pepper, if needed. I know mine is done when the rice is soft, but still has bite. It shouldn't be crunchy or mushy. 

To finish, sprinkle more cheese. Optional: Garnish with mint, fresh chives, or parsley.

Here's a different version I did with shiitake mushrooms in beef broth. 
Umami Risotto with Asparagus and Shiitake Mushrooms

What kind of risotto do you like to make (or eat)?

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