Lemon risotto has all the comfort factor you’d expect in a risotto, with the fresh flavors of spring. It’s lighter and brighter, and a delicious meal.
We went through a phase where we had risotto pretty often. It’s one of those meals that’s easy to make, you don’t need to be too precise and you can easily adapt it to what you have. It’s also a great way to use up leftovers (such as my butternut squash risotto with chicken and leftover sprouts risotto) and a handy way to sneak veggies in for the kids. In fact, for a while it was my go-to toddler lunch in colder weather.
Like all good things, though, phases often pass. But then you rediscover them and enjoy them anew, and that’s exactly how I’ve been with this lemon risotto. Partly with the change in seasons we kind of got out of the habit of risotto over summer, plus my older son seemed to not like them any more. I don’t like to give in to being fussy but somehow the combination of things meant we stopped really having them. I think that’s going to have to change, though, as this really is too tasty to not repeat more.
How it’s made
This follows your typical method of making risotto with just a couple things to note. I prefer to cook the asparagus and zucchini first then set them aside to add them back at the end as I find this keeps them fresher and retains more flavor. I have also not put any wine in this risotto since there’s quite a bit of lemon and I’d rather the lemon flavor come through since it works so well in the overall dish.
Other than that, it’s the same great combination and method of cooking onions and garlic, add the rice then stock a little at a time until absorbed and the rice has cooked. It doesn’t take long to make and while you do need to watch it a bit, you don’t need to watch too closely once the stock is in.
Ways to vary lemon risotto
While I’ve kept this simple with asparagus and zucchini (and leek optionally), you can easily adapt this to taste. For example:
- Try some other light spring-like vegetables such as peas, arugula or snap peas. Whatever you choose, keep them mild in flavor to make sure it doesn’t take away from the lemon.
- Dice some salmon and add it at the end to cook in the last of the broth then mix through as you add back the vegetables.
- Top the risotto with some grilled shrimp or fish such as swordfish (if using as a side like this, the recipe below will serve more).
Lemon risotto is a wonderful way to enjoy the comfort factor of risotto when a cosy bowl might not be quite such a fit. The fresh lemon flavor and bright vegetables give it a great spring vibe, as well as making it delicious. So grab some spring produce, some rice and enjoy.
This lemon risotto is a tasty mix of comfort factor and fresh spring brightness.
- 6 spears asparagus approx
- 1/2 zucchini courgette, large or 1 small
- 1 leek or 1/2 large (optional)
- 1 1/2 tbsp butter 15g
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 onion
- 2 cloves garlic or 1 if large, depending on size
- 1 1/2 cups arborio risotto rice 300g
- 3 cups light stock 720ml
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 lemon juice and zest ie from 1/2 lemon, or more to taste
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan 10g
Cut the asparagus and zucchini into small chunks, and slice and halve the leek. Dice the onion and finely dice or crush the garlic.
Heat 1tbsp of the butter in a pan over a medium heat and add the asparagus, zucchini and leek. Cook, stirring regularly until softened, around 3-4 mins, then remove from pan and set aside.
Add the remaining butter and oil to the pan. Soften onion 2-3 mins, then add garlic, cook another 2-3 mins until onion starting to brown slightly.
Add the rice and cook briefly to ensure well coated in oil/butter mixture. Mix through about half of the grated lemon zest, some salt and pepper.
Add the stock a bit at a time (around ½ to 1 cup at a time), adding more as the last is absorbed. Stir now and again as it cooks - I generally only stir as liquid is absorbed initially but then a little more towards the end when it tends to stick to the bottom more. In all it takes around 20mins.
Once all the stock is absorbed, check rice is cooked (if not then add a little more stock) then add the remaining lemon zest, lemon juice and add back the asparagus, zucchini and leek.
Add parmesan and stir well.
Try these other dishes with asparagus:
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