Lemon Risotto or Risotto al Limone is a simple risotto with the most basic of ingredients. Consequently, it has a light, delicate flavour with the citrus juice and zest taking centerstage, without ever overpowering.
I first had the pleasure of this dish in a restaurant in Turin, some years ago. I was a little uncertain about it initially, thinking that it was going to be awfully bland. But of course, I had to try it, and I’m so glad I did!
How to Serve Lemon Risotto
Our lemon risotto makes a great first course, starter or main course, as risotto is more commonly served outside of Italy. While it is perfectly delicious eaten on its own, it is magnificent served alongside seafood. My favourite way of topping this risotto al limone is with some charred garlic prawns (shrimps), as both garlic and seafood play so well together with lemon.
Risotto as an Amuse-Bouche
As a matter of fact, this lemon risotto has, over the years, become one of my most popular amuse-bouche dishes with clients. I fill tiny, tiny bowls with a little of this risotto al limone, and top it with a charred garlic prawn or scallop. I’ll be sure to snap a picture next time!
Just like our risotto bianco, you can experiment with your own additions and topping, if you do want to go down that route. Something spicy is always amazing with this zingy, creamy lemon risotto. Just remember that less is more here, as we want to complement the lemon risotto, not overpower it.
Cheese with Seafood in Italian Cooking
Tradition will tell you to hold the parmesan if you are cooking with seafood, for the simple reason that cheese will overpower the delicate and subtle flavours of seafood.
If I’m making a seafood risotto, then yes, I will certainly leave out the cheese. But here, if you are just topping the risotto al limone with seafood, or serving the seafood on the side, then it is just a matter of taste, in my opinion. I shall leave that up to you to decide. Just don’t tell your Italian grandmother, ok?
Basic Risotto Recipe
This lemon risotto, at its heart, is a basic risotto recipe, or risotto bianco. All we do, is add a citrusy angle and a touch of creamy depth with the egg yolk.
It certainly does in our home! But seriously though, head on over to the article on Basic Risotto, as mentioned above, to read up on all the technicalities of making a good risotto.
On the basic risotto post, we talk about:
- risotto rice
- risotto stock
- risotto science (!)
- fat for risotto
- stirring or no stirring
- mantecatura – the art of creaming with the addition of fat (butter, olive oil, cheese)
In other words, everything you ever wanted to know about risotto. But were too afraid to ask?
How do you like to cook your risotto?
Let me know with a comment below.
I know in this day of quick and easy, many, many people are constantly looking for recipes that don’t need much work or time. And while there are many proponents of just dump the stock in there and leave it for 13, 14, 15 minutes, to me, nothing beats the creamy risotto you get when you stir frequently.
Now I’m not asking you to be a martyr to your rice, and stand there going round and round, pour, round and round. Even if that’s what I do when making risotto – what’s 15 minutes in the grand scheme of things, eh?
I make time to read, I make time to workout, I can sure
as hell make the time for my favourite recipes!
“Cheating” at Cooking Risotto
Here’s a compromise: as mentioned in the Basic Risotto recipe, instead of a small ladle at a time, go for 1 cup at a time. So that’s 250ml of stock with each addition. You are cutting down on the effort, without too much of a loss in quality. But you must stir! That’s what encourages the starch to dance, as you’ll read on the basic risotto post.
Can you cook risotto without stirring?
I suppose so.
If you absolutely must.
If you can’t be bothered.
If your house is on fire.
Head on over to my Basic Risotto post, and find out how.
So many risotto recipes I see on the net, just look like stodgy rice or fried rice, just cooked with flavours. They might as well be recipes called arroz, nasi or polo! It’s not risotto if it’s not been made lovingly, but just dumped in a cooker to be cooked.
Valentina Harris, in her book, Risotto, Risotto, Risotto!, says:
Making risotto is rather like making love.
If you are in the wham, bam, thank you, ma’am camp, well, not much I can say to that!
So, are we good to go? Be sure to read up on all the principles of risotto making in our Basic Risotto post. But hey, it’s not rocket science, it really is the easiest thing in the world. Almost.
Let’s look at our lemon risotto recipe below.
More Risotto Recipes
And for more risotto recipes, check out The Risotto Masterclass Page for gems like:
♥ If you like the recipe, don’t forget to leave me a comment and that all important, 5-star rating! 😉 Grazie! ♥
And if you make the recipe, share it on any platform and tag me @azlinbloor, and hashtag it #linsfood
Lemon Risotto (Risotto al Limone)
- 1.5 litres chicken or vegetable stock
- 400 g carnaroli rice (or any risotto rice you can get)
- 1 medium onion
- 2 Tbsp salted butter
- 2 Tbsp EV olive oil
- 125 ml dry white wine (skip if you don't do alcohol)
- salt if needed
- freshly ground black pepper
For finishing the Risotto
- 2 Tbsp cold salted butter
- 60 g parmesan cheese
- 1 large egg yolk lightly beaten
- 2 Tbsp limoncello completely optional
- juice of 1 large lemon
- zest of 2 large lemons
- lemon wedges
- Place your stock, or water plus stockpots on high heat. Once it’s boiling, lower the heat down and leave it to simmer happily.
- While waiting for the stock, chop the onion up finely. Set aside.
- Heat the butter and olive oil on low heat and sauté the onions for 3 minutes, stirring.
- Add the rice and coat with all that fat, stirring well. Toast the rice for 3 more minutes, until the edges turn translucent.
- Increase the heat to medium and pour in the wine, stir, and leave to evaporate, stirring a little. Skip this step, if you don’t do alcohol.
- Add 1 cup of the simmering stock and stir gently. You can take a break, it doesn’t need to be round and round constantly, just regular stirring while the stock evaporates.
- When the stock has evaporated, add half a cup more of the stock, stir, and repeat this process for 12 minutes. Yes, watch the clock or put your kitchen timer on.
- Check the rice at the 12 minute mark. It should be just about done, depending on your rice, and the heat. Is it cooked – soft on the outside with just a bite in the middle? Is the risotto looking creamy, like a thick version of rice pudding? If it is, it’s done. If it’s not, add 1/4 cup stock, and stir. When that stock has been absorbed, check again. You shouldn’t really need to cook longer than 15-17 minutes in total.
- Then check the seasoning – does it need salt? Add some if you think it does, and stir it in.
- Take the risotto off the heat. Tip the butter, parmesan, egg yolk, limoncello, if using, lemon juice and half the lemon zest onto the risotto. Using a wooden spoon, stir it all in thoroughly and vigorously for a whole 30 seconds.
- Cover and leave to rest for 2 minutes.
- Spoon out the risotto onto serving plates and top with a small scatter of the lemon zest.
- Serve with a wedge of lemon for each diner to squeeze more juice on if desired.