A risotto for May

May 18, 2010

Lemon Risotto with Leeks, Peas and Tarragon

I first made risotto in college. It was this recipe, as a matter of fact, which still makes occasional appearances in our kitchen. It’s one of Kyle’s favorites. (I’ve determined his affection for it is related to one or more of the following: A) It tastes darn good and screams comfort food in every way imaginable. B) His dear wifey sweats and stirs over a steaming pot for 30 plus minutes all in the name of a better-than-leftovers-or-another-turkey-sandwich dinner.┬áC) It comes to us via Giada and, well, I’ll leave you with that.) It was my first “advanced” recipe. You know, the step above omelets and homemade pasta sauce (what, you mean pasta sauce does not come from glass jars?). In other words, not that advanced. Really, it’s a breeze provided you’ve braced yourself for a steamy half hour over a pot and an upper arm workout. A little patience goes a long way.

This lemon risotto is lighter and perfect for the season. Comforting enough for these brief May cold fronts and accompanying chilly drizzle but bright enough to enjoy well into the early summer(!) months. I’ve often overlooked tarragon but really need to include it in my herb arsenal. I love how it pairs with lemon here.

The original recipe calls for fresh peas. Alas, no such luck yet around these parts. Use ‘em if you’ve got ‘em, but frozen worked just fine. And a word about the broth. I found using about one cup more than what’s called for resulted in the creamy consistency I prefer. If four cups works for you, terrific, but I’d recommend having some on back up duty just in case.

Lemon Risotto with Leeks, Peas and Tarragon

(Adapted from Cooking Light)
  • 4-5 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped leeks (about 2 medium)
  • 1/2 cup chopped shallot (about 3 small)
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 3 T dry white wine
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed (or fresh, blanched)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (2 oz)
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 T fresh lemon juice
  • 2 T freshly chopped tarragon
  • 1 T butter

Bring chicken stock to a simmer in a small saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat.

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add leek and shallots to pan and cook 7 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Add rice and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add wine and cook 30 seconds or until the liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Stir in 1 cup stock. Cook 4 minutes or until the liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add remaining stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of stock is absorbed before adding the next (about 25 minutes total). Stir in peas and cook 1 minute. Stir in cheese, zest and juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and stir in tarragon and butter.

Serves 2-4.

  1. Abby (Nibble, Nourish, Run)

    May 18, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    This would be the perfect thing for me to make for dinner tonight – gone are the 70 degree sunny skies and it’s been pouring all day…this sounds so comforting and delicious!

  2. Nicole

    May 18, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    Oh, I love risotto so much. It takes time, but the end result is soooo worthwhile. I think I tried that Giada recipe back in my early days of cooking too!

  3. Donna

    May 18, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    Giada’s got nothin’ on you, Carolyn! I love your recipes…keep them coming! Your recipes are often inspirations for dinner for me and my husband likes that!

  4. Tracy

    May 18, 2010 at 7:27 pm

    That first photo…all dreamy and cushy comfort looking. Delicious!

  5. Stephanie

    May 18, 2010 at 7:49 pm

    Do you also enunciate strongly on certain words when you’re performing for your audience?

    Looks good…especially in that pretty little bowl you have! Love it!

  6. M.

    May 18, 2010 at 7:49 pm

    beautiful dish….comforting, delicious….love the addition of tarragon, leeks and shallots…yum!

  7. Cathy

    May 18, 2010 at 9:10 pm

    YUmmmmmmmmmmmmmm..can’t wait to try this…

  8. Stephanie

    May 19, 2010 at 8:48 am

    Oh, and just to let you know, I dreamed about making risotto last night. And I left the burner on and ruined it.

  9. Laura

    May 20, 2010 at 5:20 pm


  10. molly

    May 24, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks May is risotto season :) Lemon is soooo good in risotto, no?

  11. Kate

    June 14, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    Hi! Just made this risotto (along with some scallops and asparagus) – absolutely delicious! A really nice mix of spring flavors; thank you for the recipe!

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