Friday, November 22, 2013

Lemon Risotto

I love the holiday season for two reasons--family and food.  I get equally excited to share and create new memories with family as I do to feed them.  I want all of us to remember the day for the fun that we had together and also for the great meal we shared.  Needless to say, I think long and hard about what to make for any holiday meal. 

This lemon risotto tops my list for any winter holiday feast.  It hits the comfort food mark, but is equally light and fresh.  The parmesan and arborio rice bring a nutty flavor that is perfectly contrasted by the tart sweetness of the lemon.  Add some asparagus for crunch and green veggie goodness and you have one heck of an incredible holiday meal.  For our past two Christmas dinners, we have made this exact risotto and topped it with seared scallops and king crab.  Honest to goodness, I look forward to it all year and save it as a special holiday dish. 

This year, we are going to serve this risotto as a side at our Thanksgiving dinner too--it's so good that just one holiday won't do.  Mashed potatoes and stuffing are certainly traditional and tasty as Turkey Day sides, however, if you're looking to shake things up a little without adding any additional effort to your feast, this risotto is for you.  In fact, we will be having mashed potatoes, stuffing, and this risotto.  Don't let all the hype about risotto being difficult to make dissuade you--it's not true.  It is very simple, has few ingredients, and is methodical.  You can easily add it to your holiday menu...and you'll be thankful you did.

I know that I will be enjoying family and food this holiday season.  I hope you do too.  :)

Lemon Risotto:
  • 1/2 of a sweet onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 2ish tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 cup of arborio rice
  • 1/3 cup of dry white wine
  • between 5 and 6 cups of lower sodium chicken broth
  • 2ish tablespoons of fresh lemon zest
  • between 1/4 and 1/3 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice (for both the zest and the juice, use more or less depending on your taste preference)
  • about 2 cups of asparagus, loosely chopped
  • 1/3 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1ish tablespoons of Italian seasoning
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet.  Add the onions and saute over medium-high heat until the onions are tender and translucent.
  2. Add the arborio rice and stir until shiny, about one minute.  (Be careful not to burn!)
  3. Add the wine and stir until evaporated, about 30 seconds.  Stir continuously.
  4. Add 1 to 2 cups of chicken broth and simmer until the liquid is absorbed.  Stir frequently!
  5. In the meantime, heat the butter in a different skillet.  Add the asparagus and saute until just past al dente.  Set aside.
  6. Add the remaining chicken broth to the risotto 1/2 cup at a time.  Continue to allow the broth to be absorbed before adding more.  
  7. When the arborio rice has become noticeably fat, do a taste test for done-ness.  You want your risotto to be just past al dente--not crunchy, but not mushy, and not liquidy.  (I taste often.)  This should take about 30 minutes.
  8. When the the risotto has reached your desired consistency, add the lemon zest, lemon juice, cheese, Italian seasoning, black pepper, and cooked asparagus.  Stir to combine.  
  9. Taste and adjust any of the flavors.  I like my risotto to be both lemony and peppery.  :)
  10. Serve in a warm pasta bowl.  Top with more pepper and cheese.  
  11. ENJOY!  Happy Holidays.

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