Risotto al Limone

It is that time of year when citrus abound. My lemon tree has had a bumper crop this year and as I look at its laden branches groaning under the weight of all those lemons, I’m thinking about all kinds of recipes… taglierini with lemon and ricotta, roasted chicken with lemon, lemon ricotta cookies…!! Here is a lemon risotto recipe, delicious in its simplicity or, adaptable with some variation, with a few vegetables added for color and nutrition. Mt mother originally developed this recipe and I adapted it for my family.

Note: This recipe calls for 2 cups of rice which yields quite a bit, enough for 6-8 servings. In my household of 2-3, I cut the recipe in half. One cup of rice is quite sufficient even as a single course. I kept the original quantities, but feel free to trim the quantities as long as they remain proportional to this recipe. You can’t go wrong!


1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1-2 tablespoons butter

¾ cup chopped onions

1 cup dry white wine

2 cups arborio or carnaroli rice

2 tablespoons powdered bouillon or 2  quarts chicken stock

Zest of one lemon

2-3 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons butter (to finish)


1.Heat 2 quarts of water with the bouillon powder and keep it at a low boil while you prepare the rest.

2.In a 4 quart pot (one that has a heavy base with good conduction)  after it is warmed, add the olive oil and butter. Once it begins to foam, add the onions and cook them on medium high heat until they become translucent. Once they are fragrant, add the rice. Continue stirring until the kernels are lightly toasty. At this point, I always add a big splash of white wine (½ cup?) and let it absorb quickly. Begin adding the broth,  a ladle at a time (at first I add quite a few ladles so that the rice has about an inch of liquid above it), stirring occasionally and bubbling happily. As the rice absorbs the liquid, continue to stir and add a ladle (½ cup of broth) to keep the rice from sticking to the pot. If you should run low on broth, add hot water to your broth pot and let it come to a slow boil.

3.Towards the end of the cooking, add the lemon zest and the juice. Test the rice and check for doneness. It should be firm or “al dente.” Turn off the heat. The liquid should not be totally absorbed – leave it a little “soupy” as the rice will continue to absorb the liquid and continue to cook.

4. Add 2 tablespoons of butter, stir carefully. If necessary a little more broth to achieve a creamy consistency.Adjust the salt and pepper to taste. If you notice in the photo above, I added some peas at the last moment for color.

5. Place in a preheated platter, top it with parmigiano, maybe a scattering of chopped parsley, and serve immediately.

This risotto is particularly suitable to be served with delicate sautéed fish such as sole in white wine, halibut with mushrooms, grilled sturgeon, or monkfish with lemon sauce. It can also be served with veal or chicken scaloppine with lemon and capers. For vegetarians, the risotto is excellent with grilled, roasted,  or sautéed vegetables.