lemon risotto

I hate clutter. You might think that this means that I live a Type A sort of white glove test-passing existence, but anyone who knows me can vouch wholeheartedly that I do not. Because I’m lazy. But every so often (er, 28 days or so) I go on a cleaning bender and purge and sweep to my heart’s content. My inboxes get Bit Literate, absurdly insignificant things get vacuumed (dusty ledge around the walls of the apartment, your days are numbered) and things cluttered in this ever-expanding document called “to blog” get purged, well, onto your screens.

I’ve gotten especially behind this month, so I hope you don’t mind that I dump five ideas onto you and then move onto what I really want to talk about, this new awesome thing that rhymes with nacro and nens. Sad but true, this entry is the equivalent of bartering two more bites of broccoli at the dinner table to ensure that you can get a scoop of Breyers Neapolitan for dessert, but like the brown, white and pink-striped stuff always was, I’ll try to make it completely worth it in the end.

dizzying array of cucumbers

1. That 70s Salad — The mandoline and I are getting along famously. I love it, it loves me, and sometimes we giggle together over those dark days before we were together and chopping things involved a knife (!) and a cutting board (!). It was only a matter of time before I made an entire salad with it, like this one with slivered radishes, cucumber, scallions, celery and fresh cranberry beans, topped with a Dijon vinaigrette. It was terrifically fun to make, but for some reason, the arrangement on the platter reminded me precisely of a 1970s dinner party, though I couldn’t figure out why. Ah, right. “Wife Swap” was on.

lemon risotto

2. Lemon Risotto — I made this several weeks ago, and it’s fantastic in every way. There are few more awesome beddings for meat, but especially seafood, than this bright and simple risotto. You won’t believe how much flavor you can get out of the simplest ingredients. We served it alongside skinny asparagus that had been roasted to a crisp with flaky sea salt and olive oil, seared fattie scallops with coins of garlic that had been topped with…

mega scallop, arugula pesto

3. Arugula Pesto — After finding ourselves with a ridiculous amount of fresh, sharp arugula in the fridge and no immediate desire to make a salad, I made a quick pesto with it with the usual ingredients–olive oil, toasted pine nuts, parmesan and salt–and while it was great, I’m not sure I fell for the intense bitterness. Alex and our friends loved it with the scallops, but I’m not convinced they weren’t being nice. That doesn’t leave you with much in the way of advice, but I think it’s worth a try, perhaps with just a handful of arugula to see if it’s your thing before moving onto a massive batch.

couscous salad with spinach

4. Spinach Salad with CouscousThis, my friends, I’m sorry to say is a dud. I made it, along with that lemon tart to bring to a dinner party last Friday and wow, was I not pleased with its egregiously flat and excessively raw, green taste. We finally dumped a cup of crumbled feta in it, which helped, but mostly I’m just telling you about this because I tried it and so now you don’t have to. I hear a lot of good things about Patricia Wells, but I’m going to have a wait a while before I give her a chance to redeem herself. Any bets on this?

campari cocktail

5. Campari Cocktail — Hoo boy, I have fallen so hard for Campari, it’s practically all I can talk about. I had a Campari cocktail for the first time at Cookshop several weeks ago, and while my first reaction was “damn, that’s harsh” my second was, predictably, “I must have more.” What I find unbelievably refreshing about it is the bitterness, followed by that fantastic garnet hue. In the world of cocktails, there’s tart, there’s sour, there’s even a little spicy but mostly, there’s way, way, way too much sweet. This is the opposite in every way. There are a lot of fancy recipes out there for Campari cocktails, all of which look fantastic, but our at-home simple one has been ice cubes, 1/4 glass Campari , mostly filled with seltzer, followed by a short glug of sweet vermouth and a longer one of grapefruit juice. Yeah, yeah, I know that’s not much of a recipe, but I promise, it works.

And if you’ll excuse me, it 10 p.m. and I haven’t had one yet, and this must be immediately addressed.


Lemon Risotto
Adapted from Bon Appetit, May 2002

Makes 6 first-course or 4 main-course servings.

6 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
3 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large shallots, chopped
2 cups arborio rice or medium-grain white rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 teaspoons grated lemon peel

Bring broth to simmer in large saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to low; cover to keep warm. Melt 1 1/2 tablespoons butter with oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and saute until tender, about 6 minutes. Add rice; stir 1 minute. Add wine and stir until evaporated, about 30 seconds. Add 1 1/2 cups hot broth; simmer until absorbed, stirring frequently. Add remaining broth 1/2 cup at a time, allowing broth to be absorbed before adding more and stirring frequently until rice is creamy and tender, about 35 minutes. Stir in cheese and remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Stir in parsley, lemon juice, and lemon peel. Season risotto with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl and serve.

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67 comments on lemon risotto

  1. I didn’t stand a chance to resist today. The second your page pulled up and I saw that salad I knew I couldn’t possibly just pick up a grocery-store-to-BBQ item for our gathering this weekend. And – get this – a friend and I were splitting a bottle of cab last night when we put in “Life Acquatic” – Bill Murray is obsessed with campari. Had your post been a day earlier, I wouldn’t have had to ask him, “What the heck is campari??”

  2. i just found your blog and, let me tell ya, i bookmarked the dern thing! your photos are beautiful & i love the way you write. i just (as in mere days ago) started a restaurant & recipe review blog at & would love if you’d check it out. thanks!

  3. All hail to Breyer’s ice cream! Oh, you’ve just bought back some serious childhood memories. Breyer’s was the first ice cream, other than home-made ice cream that my vegetarian health-nut parents let us consume. You may be able to get some mighty fine Italian ice cream in Europe, but you don’t get Neapolitan ice cream. Sometimes if I’m feeling piggy, I’ll order strawberry, vanilla and chocolate scoops, just to recreate that feeling. Thanks of reminding me what I’ll be having when I’m Stateside at Xmas!

  4. YAY! It’s the 22nd and you’re still first on the Grill Me list, so I’m assuming you’ve won! Congratulations! I’m very very excited for you guys (but three exclamation points is my limit).

  5. I love Campari too. It makes a gorgeous color when mixed with OJ, which is probably my favorite way to drink it. I recently tried it with some grapefruit soda, and that also was delicious, although the color wasn’t as spectacular. Next you’ll want to try Aperol, which is bitter orange liqueur from the same company — it’s hard to find though. I had to have mine smuggled in from Italy!

  6. Where oh where is my mandoline?!? I ordered it weeks ago. Amazon, don’t fail me now!! I want to make sweet love to it after seeing all these amazing feats of slicing you’ve been pulling off. Sigh. In the meantime, I’ll sooth myself with Campari coaktails. Too bad it’s only 8:15 on a Friday morning. I’ll wile away the day reading Smitten Kitchen and dream of going home to the chocolate cake I made last night with beets (of all things!). I bet Campari goes really well with chocolate cake….

  7. No joke, I had a dress in the 70’s with that salad’s pattern! As for your arugula pesto, I would think its sharp, bitter flavor would be a good counterpoint to the soft, sweet scallops. Are scallops still in season? I’ll have to try that.

  8. Deb –

    Can I recommend de-bittering your arugula pesto with a handful of flat leaf parsely and two or three gloves of roasted garlic? The parsely should cut the bitter while keeping the flavor, and the roasted garlic should add a touch of sweet.

  9. That salad does look rather 70’s but oh so classy 70’s not trashy 70’s. Not that I was alive in the 70’s to compare it to anything but …. classic :)

  10. Urgh! I can resist the call of the mandolin no longer!

    Dang-it. I had promised myself no more new kitchen stuff until after we moved at the end of July.

  11. My wife discovered the joys of Campari one warm afternoon at the bar of Napoleon House in New Orleans. Now when she craves a cool summer drink, I mix up an even simpler version than yours. Pour a generous shot of Campari over a rocks tumbler filled with ice. Squeeze a lime wedge over it and drop it in the glass, then add club soda and stir. Sparkling and easy and summery.

  12. There must be something in the air… last weekend I woke at the crack of dawn and started scrubbing nearly every inch of our place. :)

    Re: the mandoline, I got a cheap one at Target about a million years ago and I couldn’t imagine life without it.

    I also adore Campari. Negronis at home, Campari and soda if we’re out at a bar.

  13. Joann

    Hey you are # 1 on the Grill me so Congrats I guess you won
    Keep us informed on when you will be going.
    Oh also tonight I will go out & get a mandoline. Can’t take it anymore
    with out one specially due to your picture perfect veggies must have one

  14. deb

    I just got the news! Yay! Alex and I are so, so excited. Thank you so much for voting so early and often; I have little doubt that it’s your resounding support that won us this once-in-a-lifetime trip. We can’t wait. I will take so many pictures, you’re going to be “Enough with the grill marks already! We get it!”

    Next task: Um, buying a grill. Or begging the use of yours.

  15. Ang

    I am loving making pesto this summer with arugula from our garden. If it’s too bitter/intense for you, try making it with half arugula and half herbs, or using mild baby leaves instead of peppery adults.

    Are you really coming out here? Yippee!!! Grill/wine time! I just hope it’s warm by then, because right now it is brr. Sunny, but brr.

  16. SantaDad

    Well, just two things:

    1. Congrats on the contest. Now, can you squeeze me into a suitcase?

    2. To me, a mandolin is a musical instrument that my uncle gave to me and I learned to play even before the guitar.


  17. Alright, I’ll take a little 2, 3, skip 4 and a lot of 5. I think I’m going to go to the the liquor store this evening. Shamefully, I’m now addicted to Captain and Diet Coke. *Hangs head* But, I feel I may be able to redeem myself with this new delightful beverage.

    Yay on the trip! Bring us back some gorgeous photos and great wine.

  18. deb

    Speaking of Campari, look at this! My first thought was “I must have it!” And then I imagined running out of Campari one night and deciding I had to have some and well, liquids, drinking, electricity. It would probably end in tears. Ah, well. It’s pretty though!

  19. larry

    you are more than welcome to use my grill any time you want- It is a Weber gas grill which is about five feet from the pool!! And I will even have Campari for you but would recommend you wait until September/October when it cools off a little bit. (I am an hour and a half from either Tampa or Orlando airports. Congrats – you two should have a blast.
    I have been thinking all day – what rhymes with nacro and nens – oh wait, is it something with a focal length of approximately 100mm? (IMO, that beats MS Craft stuff!!) So now what do we get – one cucumber slice, one fava bean, cross section of fideo, etc.??
    Congratulations again.

  20. Cupcakes

    ahhh Napa ! Comin to my turf… Since we will get acquainted at Jocelyns BSB 4th of July extravganzza perhaps I can play tour guide for a few hours and we can do some wine tasting and I can infact show you that not all cupcakes are created equal (i saw that knock you made on cupcakes a few posts back.. *ahem*)

    Maybe since you won, Alex will take you to French Laundry (

    You’re going to love love love it In Napa.. I have a list of “must’do’s”… time providing, of course.

  21. More congrats on the contest. When I lived in CA, I used to pack my pick-up with two coolers, with ice, and spend a week wine tasting and buying bottles from Napa and Sonoma vineyards. You’ll love it. Here in Paris now, I confess to an admiration towards Patricia Wells; her brandade (with a few tweaks) is a staple chez moi. Her gigot is pretty good as well. I’ve found, in general, that most classic French dishes, especially salads, need an extra uummpphh, at least to my American tastes. Have a great trip Deb & Alex; we all expect photos, non?

  22. Congrats on the contest! It’s good to know one’s votes count in the end. For your arugula pesto, try using a mix of pecans and walnuts instead of pine nuts. They have a deeper, earthier flavor that counteracts the pepperiness of the arugula nicely. I love pine nuts, but I don’t think they have enough shazzam to stand up to the godfather of salad greens. By the way, can you let me know which mandoline you got? I must have one.

  23. Every time I see you do something with that mandoline I think that I need to get one. Gladly, thinking about it is as far as I get with it at this moment.

  24. I had to laugh, my first thought at the photo was “Salad Shooter”…probably because I just found one in my garage a couple weeks ago…still in it’s original box…still unopened. I’ll have to sell it on ebay as I’m sticking to my mandoline.

  25. Brianna

    I tried the lemon risotto recently and it was a huge hit!! I was thinking about trying it with orange next time. Would you change the quantities of the citrus? It strikes me that lemon is a stronger flavor than orange, but I’m not sure what or how much to change. Thanks!

  26. Debi

    Thanks so much for the Lemon Risotto recipe! I made it for our Mother’s Day dinner with Roasted Salmon Fillets with Warm Cherry Tomato Salad, fresh creamed corn, roasted asparagus with parmesan, carrots with mint, and warm rolls. Dessert was Tuaca Zabaglione with my MILs peaches that I had lightly poached in a vanilla sugar syrup. A very successful dinner! Your lemon risotto was enjoyed by all!

    Thank you again!

  27. I am on a risotto kick. Last night I made the Tomato and Sausage Risotto, and tonight I made this. I took a page out of your book and served it with some seared scallops and romaine pesto (from the stuffed tomato recipe). The lemon worked so well in this risotto. It cut though the creaminess and added a great fresh flavor. My boyfriend loved this dish; he said that it was the best risotto that I have made.

    Thanks for the recipe. I always enjoy putting a dent in my “SK recipes to try” file (though more often than not they move to the keeper file).

  28. Steph

    Wow, lemon risotto. Honestly, I had never even eaten risotto before I made this. I have definitely been transformed into a risotto lover. So good! I thought it might be a little too lemony for my taste, but it was perfectly lemony. I served it with seared scallops, and my husband and I were in heaven. I will definitely be making more risotto in my future…

  29. kdkitchen

    This lemon risotto looks like a lovely recipe, and I’ll be trying it this evening, but I was curious as to the difference between ‘adapted from’ and ‘reprinted from’? I looked at the one from Bon Appetit to see how they might make it and how you might have changed it, but they’re exactly the same, down to how to serve.

  30. Emily

    We just made a batch of the arugula pesto for pizza night (mmm) and it was definitely too bitter when it was raw. But after it had cooked in the oven the flavors got a lot milder and was just delicious and arugula-y without any of that extra bitterness.

    Just sayin arugula pesto on pizza (+ goat cheese + tomatoes) = reeeeaalll good.

  31. Jennifer

    I just made arugula pesto last week with a bunch from the CSA that I couldn’t use up – mine used walnuts. The bitter taste definitely mellows out after it it “cooked” by the hot pasta.

    Lemon risotto is one of my favorites with seafood. I throw in a bunch of snipped chives at the end too.

  32. Do you think the rissoto would be good with fresh thyme? I’m making a birthday feast for my mom this Wednesday (ah! 2 days! gotta get to the store!) of Crab Cakes, scallops and either broccoli rabe or asparagus. Think the thyme will be too harsh?

  33. I want a new seafood dish for dinner tonight and wanted to try something new – your recipes are unfailingly wonderful – it’s not your fault I once messed up the chocolate idiot cake – embarrassing to recount but true :-) Many thanks, I am making this with the scallops.

  34. Jamie

    Made the Tomato & Sausage risotto last night and this one is up next! I was thinking of incorporating shrimp because of how well it goes with lemon. How would you suggest incorporating shrimpinto the recipe? Throw them in at the beginning or end? Thanks!

  35. Justine

    Hi there, I made the lemon risotto and added arugula – about 3-4 oz chopped thrown in at the end with lemon. It was very yummy. Love your recipes – easy and creative.

  36. KentishSarah

    Just made the lemon risotto to have with scallops for an early Valentines dinner with the husband – he loved it and so did I! Very easy and delicious.

  37. Jocelyn

    I made this lemon risotto for my family but substituted chicken broth with vegetable broth as 2 of us are vegetarians. EXCELLENT!

  38. Sarah

    Lemon Risotto was a huge hit with the family tonight! :) My dad’s comment – “You pick recipes with good flavor.” My answer: “It’s from Smitten Kitchen!” :) Thank you!

  39. Jina

    Do you know how to make risotto not taste like and look like broth? I’ve made risotto twice in the past. Both times they tasted awful, like vegetable broth, and stayed an unappetizing orange. Also, i think my wine’s flavor has changed a little. Do you think that might affect anything?

  40. Stephanie

    My partner and I just moved in together, and in order to eat healthier and save money, we’re planning out our meals in advance and learning how to cook. I am AWFUL at cooking (although good at baking and making candy), so I was very nervous when I chose the lemon risotto for my first turn in the kitchen. I halved the recipe and substituted in vegetable broth (partner’s a vegetarian).

    I give this risotto an award for being pretty darn fool-proof! It was totally delicious. I was worried that either the lemon would be totally undetectable beneath the broth and cheese and shallots, or that the dish would be overpowered by the lemon, but it was perfectly balanced. It was also not too heavy, but still very creamy.

    The recipe is a bit too involved with too many ingredients we don’t usually stock for me to make it often, but we’re going to keep the recipe to impress people with when we have guests for dinner.

  41. Meg

    Deb you have saved me! I’ve been trying to remember the name of “Campari” for going on almost 7 years now! It is hard to find in Wyoming, but I remember trying it in college and enjoying the tart bitterness.

  42. Stacey

    WOW!! Thank you so much for this amazing risotto recipe! So yummy!! It was hard to stop eating it. I served it with roasted chicken,a green salad and Chardonny. A definite repeat for the next dinner party.

  43. Terese

    That lemon risotto is the super bomb diggity of all risottos, surpassing even the mighty, risotto king, Alton Brown woo yeah!!

  44. Jen

    I’m totally obsessed with arugula pesto! I like it with scallops, shrimp and pasta. I think I eat it at least monthly. I also make version with some sundried tomato added to it.

  45. Jen

    My brother adores the Campari cocktail Negroni. It has red vermouth in it, too. I think it disappoints him terribly that nobody else he knows shares his enthusiasm.

  46. Tamar

    This is a favorite around here, and tonight I discovered a new trick – I subbed lemon juice for the white wine (I halve the recipe and used 1/4 cup). This gave the risotto such a lemony kick there was no need for the lemon juice at the end, and even the lemon zest was optional. So good!

  47. Jenna

    Hi Deb, do you soak your rice before making risottos or just a quick rinse. The internet is giving me conflicting advice so I’m curious to know your thoughts.
    Thank you!

  48. Gillian

    Hi Deb! I apologize if I missed this in the comments section, but have you ever made this with your Parmesan Broth recipe? Would it be overkill or unbelievable? Thanks in advance!

  49. Jill

    The lemon risotto recipe has been a favorite in my family for years. I never make risotto any other way. Hilariously, when we first made the recipe, we read it as calling for 4 TABLESPOONS of lemon peel. Which is so. much. lemon peel. We thought, “hmm, that seems a little bitter — but 3 tablespoons would be perfect!” So that’s how we make it. We eventually realized it was supposed to be 4 teaspoons all along, and tried that once, but it just didn’t have the lemon punch we’d gotten used to.

  50. DeeAnn Cox

    I just want to say that this “old” recipe is still delicious. Made it tonight and topped it with grilled shrimp.

  51. Emily

    Hi Deb! I’ve made this recipe *several* times as it’s delicious and very comforting. I’m also the proud new owner of an Instant Pot and am wondering – would this recipe work in the pot?

  52. Maryse42

    I made this in the Instant Pot with 4 cups of stock instead of 6, for 6 minutes at high pressure followed by natural release (using proportions and timing from the risotto in the instruction manual), and it was dreamy! So good and so EASY in the IP!

  53. Shane

    Simple and decadent. Thank you, Deb! I used some (home) preserved Meyer lemons (about 3/4 of one large one) with no-salt vegetable broth and added fresh chives with the flowers the first time and fresh thyme on the rerun. Thank you for making it so easy!

  54. Meagan

    Lovely and simple. I made a half recipe for my husband and I using the instant pot instructions mentioned by another commenter,1:4 ratio of rice to broth, 6 minutes on high, natural release. I didn’t have any wine, and I put a little bit of zest and juice in before starting the cooking, and the rest at the end. The end result was really delicious. Super creamy and bright!