Lemon Risotto

Update 2/19/18:  This post has been updated to include the recipe/instructions for the Instant Pot.  I need to update the whole blog post–content, photos, everything–except for the end result on the plate.  Well, I still love family and food.  I can safely say this is the most highly requested recipe on the blog, and the one that I personally make the most.  For the meantime, ignore the blah, blah, blah and the photos and just skip to the bottom.  That’s where the magic is.

Original 2013 post (just ignore it):  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:  

Stovetop Instructions:  

  • 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.


Intant Pot Instructions:

**Goodness gracious sakes alive!  Personally, I am uncertain whether I will ever cook risotto on the stove again after the ease and perfection that resulted from cooking in the Instant Pot.**

  • 1 small/medium sweet onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 cups of arborio rice
  • 1/3ish cup of good white wine
  • 4 cups of reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2ish (actually probably a bit more) fresh grated parmesan
  • the juice of two lemons
  • 1ish tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 bundle of asparagus, cut into one in pieces (get rid of the woody end)
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • fresh parmesan for serving time if you want
  1. Melt the butter in Instant Pot heated to the sauté setting.  Add the diced onions and cook, stirring fairly consistently, until translucent and visibly soft.  Do not let them burn or stick to the bottom of the pot.  If needed, add a touch of liquid or more butter.
  2. Add the rice and stir until shiny. (About one minute.)
  3. Add the wine and stir until evaporated, about 30 seconds.  Stir continuously.
  4. Add the broth, about 1/2 cup of the grated parmesan cheese (I didn’t measure…I grabbed a handful), and the lemon juice.  Give the whole business a final stir and make sure nothing is stuck on the bottom.
  5. Close the top, make sure the dial is on pressure.  Cook on high for 6 minutes at high pressure.
  6. In the meantime, saute the asparagus in olive oil or butter on the stove until just al dente.
  7. Have a kitchen towel ready for when the timer goes off.  Put the towel over the pressure valve and carefully switch the quick release to vent.  (If you don’t cover with a towel, you’ll have a big ol’ mess.)
  8. When done releasing, open the lid.  The risotto should at first appear just slightly too wet.  Stir and the rest of the liquid will continue to absorb.
  9. Add the lemon zest, the rest of the grated parmesan, the sauteed asparagus, and some fresh cracked pepper.  Stir to combine.  (Taste and add more juice, zest, or cheese if you want.  It’s entirely your preference.)
  10. Enjoy!  And be thankful that this took less than half an hour from start to finish and you didn’t have to stand at the stove and stir and taste and stir and taste and stir and taste….

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