Meyer Lemon Risotto Recipe

Meyer Lemon Risotto Recipe Recipe

This is the time of the year when my husband Lulu brings me lots and lots of citrus from our garden. I'm always most excited about the lemons from our Meyer lemon tree. If you go to the market, you'll notice how expensive this variety of lemon is. It was such a treat when Lulu came inside a couple of days ago with about 50 Meyer lemons. It’s a small dwarf tree and hasn’t produced nearly as much in the past, but boy did it make up for it this year!

In honor of our bounty, I have a few recipes I’m going to dust off and make, such as Meyer lemon mousse, lemon curd, lemon cake and a few jars of marmalade. I also tried to  think of a savory dish I could make, and Lulu suggested I adapt the lemon pasta sauce I made in the past (that recipe in turn was from Ina Garten) and turn it into a risotto

This evening, I made the Meyer lemon flavored risotto and it was such a hit. I used a combination of garlic, shallots, butter and half and half in the dish, so really, how could it go wrong?


Yields: 8 servings

4 Meyer lemons
2 cups half and half
½ teaspoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
5 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced
3 cups Carnaroli rice
1 cup orzo
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, freshly shaved
1½ teaspoons green, pink and black pepper, freshly cracked
1½ cups sugar snap peas
1 tablespoon sea salt


Preparing the lemon sauce:

Zest all the lemons and juice 3 of them. Reserve 1 tablespoon lemon zest for garnish. Slice the remaining lemon.

In a small saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the half and half, lemon zest and lemon juice (½ cup). Add sugar. Season with 2 teaspoons of salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring often. 

For the risotto:

Warm 4¾ cups water.

In a deep saucepan, heat the rest of the olive oil and cook the shallots for 2-3 minutes. Lower the heat and cook for 5 minutes until golden. In the same saucepan, add the butter and rice. Make sure the grains of rice are well coated. Add 2 cups of warm water and the Parmesan cheese and stir frequently.

After bringing the liquid to a boil, lower the heat to medium-low and cook for about 10 minutes. Check the liquid and periodically add ½ cup of warm water (up to an additional 2½ cups) as soon as the liquid has been absorbed. Simmer for another 15 minutes.

How to prep sugar snap peas:

Wash the sugar snap peas. To trim them, snap the ends between your fingers and pull off any fibrous strings on either side of the vegetable.

Boil the sugar snap peas in salted water for about 3-4 minutes. Drain the liquid and immediately transfer to an iced water bath. Pat dry on paper towels. Cut into thirds on the bias.

Season with salt and drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Set aside.

Assembly time:

At this point the rice is still al dente. Season with salt and pepper. Add the lemon sauce. Stir well. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and cook for 10-15 minutes.

Check doneness. Add a bit more water if needed and extend the cooking time by another 5 minutes (if necessary). Adjust seasoning.

When ready to serve, add the sugar snap peas. Turn off the heat, cover and let stand for 5 minutes.

Garnish with the reserved lemon zest. Decorate with the lemon slices.

Bon appétit!


Coating the grains of rice in butter prevents them from sticking to one another.

For this dish, I used exactly 6¾ cups of water (you could also use chicken stock for more flavor). The quantity of liquid may vary depending on the heat of the stove and how long you're cooking the grains. At the end, I let it simmer uncovered, sometimes adding another ¼ cup of warm liquid at a time until I achieve the right consistency and level of doneness. I like risotto al dente, not too mushy. Watch the risotto closely! The key is to add the liquid incrementally and never let the dish dry out, or the rice and pasta will burn at the bottom.

Sugar snap peas brighten the dish and help cut some of the richness.

Check out more risotto recipes.


Published By: Jacqueline Pham on March 7, 2013.


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