Lemon Risotto with Spring Peas

The warm weather brings out so many fantastic options for fresh produce and light flavors. This lemon risotto is easy and very flavorful. It tastes like Capri to me with its rich texture and tangy lemon background. Risotto gets kind of a bad rap because of the work it takes, but I tend not to overwork the dish and cook the rest of my meal while the risotto does its thing. Risotto is delicious, creamy and feels very indulgent. My version cuts out a lot of the butter and oil so that you can feel like you are indulging, but the ingredients are figure friendly. 

Heat 3 cups of chicken stock or broth in a large saucepan with 1 cup of lemon juice until just about to boil. On a different burner, sweat one large or two small shallots (they are by the onions in the produce section) over medium heat in 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil until translucent. Add 1 cup of arborio rice (can be found in the rice section) and cook together until all of the grains have absorbed some of the oil, about 2-3 minutes. Add 1 cup of dry white wine and stir in until absorbed by the rice. Add a ladle full of the broth and lemon mixture at a time and let simmer in the rice mixture. You want to keep stirring as much as possible during this process, but don't be afraid to leave it alone for small amounts of time. Continue to add the broth and stir until the grains are soft, but still have a bit of a bite to them (this can take 20-30 minutes). The dish should be creamy (that is from the starches coming out of the rice) and not mushy. Turn off heat and add salt, pepper (to taste), 1 cup of defrosted frozen peas (you can use fresh if available), the zest of 1 lemon and as much Parmesan cheese as you desire (I like a lot!). 

Risotto takes some time to get used to cooking, but can really be a great basic dish that you can switch up for every season. Instead of the lemon and peas you could try wild mushrooms in the fall, prosciutto and four cheeses in the winter, asparagus and mint in the spring, etc. One tip is to take your time and continue to taste the grains, this will help you understand how the cooking process works and how the grains look when ready. 


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