I rarely have the initiative to make risotto, but really, it’s not much harder or more time consuming than pasta or most other dishes I’d make on a week night. It just requires that you don’t wander too far from the stove. I am a sucker for kitchenware so I bought a big paella pan awhile ago, which is ideal for risotto, but any large pot or deep sauce pan will do. You just want as much surface area as possible.

I started from a recipe for lemon risotto on Epicurious and adapted it a bit, then decided to accompany it with chicken — it would be equally delicious with seafood. You can easily sub in different cheese as well. I happened to have an odd-sized chunk of gruyere on hand so I used this recipe to whittle it down. It would be really easy to double this and serve it at a dinner party. The lemon makes it so nice and fresh in the dead of winter! When does that damn groundhog tell us when winter will be over again??

Lemon Risotto with Spinach
Serves 4 – 6
Time: approx. 45 minutes

1 1/4 c. arborio rice
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 – 5 c. chicken stock
1/4 c. dry white wine
3 c. baby spinach, or chopped regular spinach
3/4 c. cheese — I used a combination of gruyere and parmeggiano reggiano
2 T. chopped parsley
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 1/2 T. butter
Olive oil

Heat chicken stock in a small pan until it just comes to a boil. Cover to keep warm.

Heat 1 1/2 T. butter and a splash of olive oil in a large, deep sauce pan or pot, over medium-low heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until they are very fragrant and begin to sweat. Do not brown. Add the rice and stir until evenly coated with the butter and olive oil. Bring heat up to medium-high. Add the wine and stir until absorbed, about a minute. Add 1 1/2 c. of hot stock and stir frequently with a wooden spoon, scraping along the bottom, until most of the stock is absorbed. Continue adding about 1/2 c. of stock at a time and stirring in this manner until all of the stock has been used. This should take about 35 minutes. The rice will be creamy and tender, but with a bite. Do not cook until the pan is completely dry — you want a bit of creaminess left. Take the risotto off the heat and add the remaining butter, lemon juice, lemon zest, cheese, spinach and parsley. Stir until the heat of the risotto wilts the spinach and everything is well incorporated.

Serve on its own as a main course, or along with chicken or fish!