Lemon Basil Parmesan Risotto with Peas

One of the dishes I was most afraid of making from scratch was always risotto. It seemed like a daunting task of perfect measurements, constant stirring, and cooking for exactly 22 minutes. Now it’s one of my go-to dishes. And I barely follow a recipe anymore. But for you, I’ll tell you exactly what to do.

It’s very versatile. You can add all sorts of flavorings to it and veggies to create a perfect bowl of flavor. I personally like the zesty, tangy lemon, the sweet ‘pop’ of peas and salty Parmesan flavor.

Lemon Basil Parmesan Risotto with Peas

finished bowl of risotto

finished bowl of risotto


2 small sweet onions or 1 large Vidalia onion

5 T unsalted butter, divided (3 and 2)

1 T extra virgin olive oil

1 1/4 C Arborio rice

1/2 tsp salt (depending on how salty your stock is. Mine is home made so it’s not as salty as store-bought)

1/2 C Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc (optional)

5-6 Cups chicken stock

2 T fresh basil chiffonade

juice from 1/2 lemon

zest of whole lemon

1 C frozen peas

1/2 C Parmesan cheese

dash of heavy cream (optional)


Start out by placing all the chicken stock in a sauce pan over medium heat. Place butter and oil in a separate larger heavy sauce pan over low heat to melt. Add finely chopped onion and allow onion to soften for about 10 minutes. (I place the onion in the food processor to chop it up as finely as possible. It ends up being about the same size as the grains of rice. Which is nice when you are trying to get your picky kid to eat it.) Add rice to onion and stir to coat. Allow to toast in butter/oil for about 5 minutes. Add the 1/2 tsp salt and stir. (note: if your stock is super salty, don’t add too much salt at this time. Keep in mind the Parmesan is salty, too.) Add wine and pat rice down into liquid. The liquid should be at a slow simmer. If you cook the rice too hot it will cook too fast and the starch won’t be released. If you cook the rice too low the rice will get mushy. A nice slow simmer is good…. a couple bubbles, not too much.

Once the wine is absorbed you can start adding the hot stock at about a cup at a time. Add one cup stock, stir, and allow to simmer. Add another cup stock, stir, and allow to simmer.

risotto, stock, measuring cup for scooping stock and a glass of wine for me to drink. Yum.

risotto, stock, measuring cup for scooping stock and a glass of wine for me to drink. Yum.

Once you add about half the stock, add the lemon zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon.


Continue adding the stock and stirring the rice. Taste to see what the texture is like. It should have a little bit of a bite in the center of the rice but the general ‘feel’ should be creamy. I tend to cook the rice for about 30 minutes. Once it has a creamy texture, add the basil and peas and Parmesan and stir. At the end, stir in 2 Tablespoons of butter and even a dash of heavy cream if you have it. Voila! Easy.

Aside: you can drink wine while you are cooking this dish. That’s really why it’s my favorite meal to make.





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