Lemons always remind me of spring because of their sunny color and fresh flavor they add to food. I love to use lemon juice to add a bright citrusy flavor to dishes, and the zest shouldn’t be wasted either — it packs a punch of flavor in just a small amount. Mint is also another favorite flavor of mine and tangy lemon and cool mint taste great together.

Risotto is a creamy, traditional Italian rice dish that’s so versatile it’s great for any time of the year or occasion. So, thanks to my affection for lemon and mint during this season, I decided to marry the two in this dish.

The result — a creamy, slightly tangy, comforting dish with a hint of mint. I suggest serving this as a side dish with chicken or pork, family-style and while it’s still warm, right out of the pot.

Lemon-Mint Risotto
(serves 6 as a side dish; adapted from this recipe from Bon Appétit magazine)
6 cups low-salt chicken broth*
3 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large shallots, chopped
2 cups arborio rice or medium-grain white rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
Zest of one lemon
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
Juice of one lemon

1. Bring broth to simmer in large saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat and keep broth barely at a simmer.
2. Melt 1 1/2 tablespoons butter with oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté until tender, about 6 minutes. Add rice and stir for 1 minute to “toast” the rice.
3. Add lemon zest and wine and stir until evaporated, about 30 seconds. Add 1 1/2 cups hot broth; simmer until absorbed, stirring frequently. Add remaining broth 1/2 cup at a time, allowing broth to be absorbed before adding more and stirring frequently until rice is creamy and tender, about 35 minutes.
4. Stir in cheese and remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Stir in mint and lemon juice. Season risotto with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl or serve straight from the saucepan (less dishes to clean).

*Tip: to make it vegetarian, use vegetable broth instead of chicken.

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