Meyer Lemon Risotto with Basil

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Meyer lemons are a treat that you should definitely get your hands on during the months of Winter and Spring. There are so many things you can make with Meyer Lemons (check out this list from LA Times). One of my favorite things to make with them is Meyer lemon curd- it is amazing spooned over fresh berries or for filling vanilla cupcakes. This incredibly delicious and creamy risotto is another fantastic way to spotlight this lovely lemon. I adapted the recipe a bit, I decided not to add the mascarpone cheese because I think risotto is creamy enough without adding the extra calories. If you want to add it though, stir in 1/3 cup along with ½ cup of the parmesan. As I did not add it, I added a rounded ½ cup of Parmesan and did not add all of the lemon zests and juice. When prepping, I combined the zests and juices of both lemons in a small bowl. When it came time to add the zest and juice, I scooped out about ¾ of the mixture to add to the risotto. If you DO add the mascarpone, you could probably add the entire amount of zest and juice, but I didn’t want the citrus to take over the other flavors. The basil adds a fresh component and the Parmesan a nice, rich bite. Aside from pizza, risotto could be my desert island food. It is somewhat labor-intensive, but the dish is so delectably creamy while the grains remain separate and firm. Heavenly. I served this risotto with roasted asparagus and toasted baguette slices.

adapted from: Food + Wine
serves: 6 first course servings, or 2, 3 larger servings

6 cups vegetable stock
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 tender inner celery rib, finely chopped, plus ¼ cup chopped leaves
½ Thai chile or 1 chile of another hot variety
salt + freshly ground pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1 ½ cups Arborio rice (10 ounces)
½ cup white vermouth
rounded ½ cup of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
1 tablespoon finely grated Meyer lemon zest*
1 tablespoon finely grated Eureka lemon zest (regular lemons)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed Eureka lemon juice
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons julienned basil leaves

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Have everything chopped, grated, juiced, prepped and measured before you start cooking to make things easy.

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Bring the stock to a boil in a medium saucepan. Once it comes to a boil, lower the heat to keep it at a very low simmer.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan or a medium Dutch oven. Add the onion, celery rib and chile, season with salt and pepper and cook over low heat, stirring, until softened, about 7 minutes.

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Add the celery leaves and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the rice and cook, stirring until glossy, about 1 minute.

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Add the vermouth to the rice and simmer over moderate heat until almost absorbed, about 3 minutes. Add 1 cup of the hot stock and cook, stirring constantly, until most of the stock has been absorbed.

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Continue in this fashion, adding about a cup of stock at a time, stirring constantly, until most of the stock has been absorbed before adding more. The rice is done when it’s tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 20-30 minutes total. Stir in the Parmesan (leaving a little aside for topping the dish, if preferred), most of the lemon juices and zests, and the basil. Taste and add more of the lemon mixture if desired. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon the risotto into bowls, garnishing with basil and parmesan if desired, or passing additional parmesan at the table.

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*Meyer Lemons– this lemon family member is believed by botanists to be a cross between a lemon and an orange. It’s named after F.N Meyer who imported it to the US from China, where it has been grown for centuries. Meyer lemons are rounder and have smoother skin than conventional lemons, and their color ranges from deep yellow to yellow-orange. The juice is sweeter and less acidic than that of regular lemons. Meyer lemons are available from November through May. (I made this risotto a few months ago, but there still might be a few weeks left for Meyer lemons!) Choose firm fruit that is heavy for its size and store in the refrigerator in a plastic bag for up to 2 weeks.

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2 Replies to “Meyer Lemon Risotto with Basil”

  1. Alison, this looks so yummy and I’m going to try this recipe! Can I substitute Vermouth for another white wine?

  2. The Ruby Spoon says:

    Hi Tracy- Yes, I would use a dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc (or something similar) in place of the vermouth. Happy Cooking!

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