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Risotto al Limone

HG Cooks

Risotto al Limone

Recipe by Via Carota

If you've made risotto before, we have news for you: you can ditch the broth. Making this northern Italian dish traditionally involves stirring small amounts of chicken broth into your saucepan, but in what many foodies are calling one of the most exciting cookbooks of the season—Via Carota—chefs Rita Sodi and Jody Williams dispel the need for broth and call for water instead. In the cookbook, which celebrates the recipes and ethos of their New York restaurant of the same name, the authors explain that using water in their Risotto al Limone recipe keeps the emphasis on the brightness of the lemon, with all the flavour coming from the olive oil and Parmesan.

Serves 4


  • 2 Meyer lemons

  • 4 oz Parmigiano Reggiano

  • 6 cups water

  • Extra-virgin olive oil

  • 5 fresh basil leaves

  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped

  • 1 ½ cups  risotto rice, such as nano vialone

  • ½ cup dry white wine

  • Salt and pepper


  • Zest the lemons and juice them into a cup. Finely grate the parmigiano; you will have about 2 handfuls. 

  • Bring the water to a simmer in a medium pot. Coat a wide, heavy saucepan with oil (about 2 tablespoons) and warm 3 basil leaves in it over medium heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove the basil leaves and discard them. Add the shallots to the pan, cook them until soft, 2 to 3 minutes, then add the rice. Using a wooden spoon, stir constantly until the grains of rice are glossy and well coated, about 2 minutes. Raise the heat to high and pour in the wine, stirring until evaporated.

  • Add 2 teaspoons salt to the pot of water. One ladleful at a time, add hot water to the rice, and stir until it’s completely absorbed. Continue adding hot water gradually, only adding more when the rice is ready to absorb it; you will know it’s ready when the bubbling increases and the spoon leaves a slow trail in the rice. Stir after each addition of water and cook until the rice is loose and creamy, and when you bite into a grain of rice it’s barely tender, 18 to 20 minutes (you might have about ½ cup of water left).

  • To finish, stir in the lemon zest and juice. Pour in a stream of olive oil (about 2 tablespoons), stirring the risotto vigorously at the same time. Stir in the parmigiano; add salt if needed. 

  • Tear 2 basil leaves in half and stir them into the risotto. Grind pepper over each serving, and drizzle with olive oil.

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