Go Back

Lemon Risotto with Chicken, Shrimp and Vegetarian Options

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.

Course Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Keyword classic recipe, comfort food, easy side dish recipe
Prep Time 40 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Author Linda Spiker


  • 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


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and place rack in upper third of oven. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside

Prep Ingredients:

  1. You can use prepared butternut squash from the market, or peel your own. If peeling your own see link to instructions above.
  2. 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)
  3. Place cookie sheet in oven and cook for 40 minutes or until squash is soft and edges are browned.
  4. Set ricotta on counter to come to room temperature.
  5. Peel and finely chop the shallot.
  6. Finely chop the garlic, roughly chop basil and thinly slice chives
  7. Zest and juice the lemons, keeping the zest and juice separate.
  8. Coarsely chop the cashews

Make risotto:

  1. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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):

  1. 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.
  2. If using chicken, shred leftover rotisserie or roasted chicken and add to risotto, It will warm up in the rice.
  3. Fold butternut squash and cashews into risotto, stir. Place into four bowls. Divide ricotta on top of each bowl. Eat!