Risotto with Peas, Ricotta, and Lemon

Once upon a time, I was scared of weeknight risotto. Everyone said it required too much time, too much stirring, too much attention. The latter, alas, is true. As is the stirring part. But you can whip out an excellent risotto in under 45 minutes.

This recipe reminds me of Spring.  The peas — fresh or frozen — add a lovely flavor. And the lemon adds freshness. Plus, if you can think of a better way to use up leftover ricotta, I am eager to hear your secret recipes!

Final note: I love me some bacon (or, prosciutto), but just omit it for a vegetarian option. Or serve the crumbled salty pork on the side. Also, substitute vegetable stock for chicken stock for a truly vegetarian meal.

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Risotto with Peas, Ricotta, and Lemon

By Kassia Krozser Published: June 2, 2013

  • Yield: 4 - 6 with leftovers Servings
  • Cook: 60 mins

This is a great Spring recipe...though you can certainly enjoy it any time of the year. And I'll be honest: I'll eat this as an entree instead of side dish.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake the bacon or prosciutto until very crispy. For the prosciutto, this is about 8 minutes. You can also pan fry the bacon. Once the meat is cooled enough to handle, break into crispy bits.
  2. Heat stock to boiling. Briefly cook the frozen peas in the stock — 1 to 2 minutes. Remove peas and set aside, keep the stock simmering.
  3. In a deep skillet, braiser, or pot (I prefer the first two), heat the olive oil until shimmering. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and cook over medium heat until soft and translucent, 3 − 5 minutes.
  4. Add the rice to the pot and stir to coat with oil. Continue cooking for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until the rice is translucent.
  5. Add the white wine if using, stir thoroughly, and cook until almost evaporated.
  6. Now…using a ladle, add the heated chicken stock to the rice about a 1/2 cup at a time. Stir until the broth is mostly absorbed. Repeat the stock addition and stirring until the rice is cooked al dente — soft but with a little bite to it. You don’t want your rice mushy for risotto. This takes about 30 minutes. I think of it as a zen moment.
  7. Stir in the peas. Fold in the ricotta and lemon zest. Add some lemon juice, knowing you’ll be tasting the dish all the way through to completion. You want good lemon flavor, but not overpowering lemon flavor.
  8. Add the butter and parmesan, if using, to the pan, stirring to mix thoroughly. Taste. Add any salt and pepper necessary. Add more lemon juice. Again, you want some tang, but not pucker!
  9. Top the dish with crumbled bacon or prosciutto, if using.

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