Risotto. It’s a beautiful word. I dare say it even sounds romantic. And being that there is a certain romantic holiday right around the corner I thought perhaps a love inspired menu was in order. I decided on a Lemon Risotto with a Chicken, Shrimp or Vegetarian Option.
This post is Sponsored by Village Harvest!
Let’s Talk About Rice Baby
Not just any rice is used to make risotto. Risotto is made using an Italian short grain rice called Arborio. When cooked the rounded grains remain firm and creamy because the starch content is a little higher than that of other rice grains. I use Arborio rice from Village Harvest, grown in the fields of Northern Italy. Click to find it near you and receive $1 off Village Harvest Arborio!
Risotto is really easy to make but it does require a little love in the form of a watchful eye and lot’s of stirring. This risotto is fresh, light and lemony with a little sweet, savory and salty mixed in.
What Are You in The Mood For?
While I was creating this dish I could not decide if I wanted it to be vegetarian or include roasted chicken…
…or shrimp. So I am offering all three versions in this recipe. A little something for everybody, every budget, every taste!
Let’s Chat About That Topping!
If all the creamy goodness of risotto, roasted butternut squash, Parmesan and cashews weren’t enough I added a little ricotta with fresh chives, basil, lemon zest and lemon juice as a topping. Looking at this beautiful food makes me want to go back to Italy!
The Recipe: Lemon Risotto: Chicken, Shrimp, Vegetarian
Tips and what you need: I use Arborio rice from Village Harvest, grown in the fields of Northern Italy. Click to find it near you! If you wish to peel and cut your own butternut squash click here for tips! You will need parchment paper and a good pot.
Lemon Risotto with Chicken, Shrimp and Vegetarian Options
- 3 cups butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch cubes
- 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
- sea salt and pepper
- 1 cup fresh ricotta (room temp)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 large shallots, peeled and diced
- 2 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice (I used Village Harvest)
- 5 cups water
- 8 basil leaves, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup chives, sliced
- zest and juice of 2 lemons (when in season use Meyer!)
- 1/2 cup roasted salted cashews, roughly chopped
- 1 cup freshly shredded Parmesan
- Optional: 20 small shrimp (I buy my shrimp deveined and tails removed), or 2 cups shredded roasted or rotisserie chicken
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees and place rack in upper third of oven. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside
- You can use prepared butternut squash from the market, or peel your own. If peeling your own see link to instructions above.
- Peel and dice butternut squash, place squash on parchment covered cookie sheet and toss with olive oil, sea salt and pepper. (Use just enough olive oil that all the squash is glistening)
- Place cookie sheet in oven and cook for 40 minutes or until squash is soft and edges are browned.
- Set ricotta on counter to come to room temperature.
- Peel and finely chop the shallot.
- Finely chop the garlic, roughly chop basil and thinly slice chives
- Zest and juice the lemons, keeping the zest and juice separate.
- Coarsely chop the cashews
- Add 2 tablespoons butter to a med/large pan or pot. Add shallots and saute for three minutes. Add garlic and cook another two minutes being careful not to burn garlic. Carefully pour wine into the pan, add the rice and cook until the liquid reduces (2 to 3 minutes) Pour in 5 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer (no lid) and cook, stirring frequently, until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is just tender, 15 to 18 minutes.
While the risotto and squash cook, prepare the ricotta:
- In a bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, 1/2 the chives, 1/2 the basil, all of the lemon zest, and 1/2 the lemon juice. Mash with a fork until blended. Set aside.
- When rice has cooked for 18 minutes, remove from the heat and stir in the Parmesan and the other half of the lemon juice. Add the rest of the chives and basil. Stir. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Cook Shrimp or Heat Chicken (optional):
- If using shrimp, sprinkle shrimp lightly with sea salt and pepper. Place a pan on medium heat, add a little olive oil and then shrimp, cook for five minutes stirring occasionally. Fold into risotto.
- If using chicken, shred leftover rotisserie or roasted chicken and add to risotto, It will warm up in the rice.
- Fold butternut squash and cashews into risotto, stir. Place into four bowls. Divide ricotta on top of each bowl. Eat!
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