Cook the Book: Summer Lemon-Vegetable Risotto
By Michelle Klug, Contributing Editor
There are few things in life I am genuinely afraid of: snakes, heights, and making risotto.
I love cooking, but risotto is a needy meal, and I tend to use too much or not enough broth and end up with an under-cooked or soupy mess. Or I don’t stir as often, and have half the rice sticking to the bottom of the pan. So since my last two risotto fails, I have been eyeing this meal with reluctant yearning.
The results were delicious and rewarding. This is a perfect starter recipe for anyone looking for a great risotto dish. The lemon and summer vegetables gave the meal a zesty, light taste to balance out the savory rice.
The best advice I can give for first time risotto makers: follow the directions, no improvising, no skipping steps. This is hard for corner-cutters like me, who like to put my own touch on things. But the broth-to-rice ratio is perfect for making tender, saucy risotto. I wouldn’t add anything, besides some spicy black pepper.
If you don’t have a Dutch oven (I didn’t), just use the thickest large pot you can find. Non-stick doesn’t really matter in this case since you are stirring so often – the rice doesn’t even have a chance to stick to the bottom.
I enlisted the help of two other hungry interns to help prepare the vegetables and zest the lemon, so I could concentrate just on the rice. If you are making it on your own, prepare the veggies before, and let them sit until you are ready to stir them in with the rice. Missing a beat when preparing the rice has always been my downfall in the past.
The key is pouring warmed broth into the rice at ½ cup increments, as the recipe suggests. Pouring in too much or too little could have hindered the meal.
The flavor was savory and this could definitely be considered a comfort food. I added some extra black pepper because I love the lemon and pepper combo on anything. This recipe does allow for creativity with spices since none of the flavors are too strong besides lemon. Fennel or garlic would be tasty additions to try.
Overall, this was a delicious summer meal that can be converted to different seasons easily by just using in-season veggies instead if squash, zucchini, peas, and asparagus. Here are some ideas for upcoming seasons:
Fall: Artichoke, mushroom, and spinach
Winter: Butternut squash
If you’re looking to savor the last bit of summer, this recipe is a great find, and not as difficult as other risotto recipes I have tried in the past. It’s super fun to make with friends over a bottle of wine and some music.
Happy risotto making!