21 April, 2010

Lemon Risotto (with Tuscan-Style Tuna Steaks)

Risotto al limone
from the Risotto cookbook
by Judith Barrett and Norma Wasserman

I had a bowl of lemons on my counter and was contemplating what to make with them. One of my all-time favorite lemon recipes is not a dessert recipe, rather a savory dish -- lemon risotto. I'd made it many times before, but this time, I actually used the Risotto al limone recipe from the aforementioned cookbook. To my surprise, it was a notch above the usual. I'm guessing it's the brandy and cream that did it. (I usually use white wine and tons of parmesan, while this one was a bit reserved on the cheese, opting instead for cream.) Wow.

Photos were done on the fly; my apologies for not taking better "after" shots of the risotto itself (I kind of focused on the tuna), but we were in a hurry to eat!

Note: I did not have peas for this recipes, so I substituted baby spinach for the greens in the risotto.


  • 5 cups broth (I used chicken)
  • 2 TB butter (I used salted)
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1/4 cup onion, finely minced
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio (or pearl) rice
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about two lemons)
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 1 cup fresh peas (I used baby spinach)
  • 1/4 cup light cream
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan

Bring the broth to a simmer on the stove. Heat the butter and oil in a casserole or pot over moderate heat. Add the onion and saute for 1 to 2 minutes, until it begins to soften. Don't let it brown.

Add the rice and, using a wooden spoon, stir for one minute making sure all the grains are well-coated.

Set your kitchen timer for 18 minutes. Add the brandy and lemon juice and cook, while stirring, until the liquid is almost completely absorbed. Add in a portion of the broth (1/2 cup at a time) and stir frequently until the rice has absorbed it before adding more, reserving about 1/4 cup for the very end. 

After approximately 18 minutes, when the rice is tender but still firm, add the rest of the broth, the peas, cream, and parmesan. Stir vigorously for about 1 minute and then remove from heat and serve immediately.

Tuna Steaks.

For the tuna steaks, I put two in a glass casserole dish with about a cup of olive oil and the following: the zest of one lemon, 2 TB rosemary, 6 cloves crushed garlic, a good coating of sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, a pinch of dried parsley (fresh would be better). Marinate for two hours, turning the steaks once during that time. Grill or fry in a heavy skillet on high heat for 2 - 5 minutes on each side, depending on how done you like it. (I like it a little bit pink, but I overcooked it with 4 minutes.)

Freshly grated parmesan cheese and superfino arborio rice


Lots of garlic for the tuna steak marinade.

Tuna steaks marinading.

Coating the rice with oil and then adding liquid a bit at a time.

Tuna steaks are already a bit too done here.

Finished tuna steaks with garlic/herb bits

The finished dish


  1. I cook risotto often but never added lemon. It sounds delicious.


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  3. THE BEST RISOTTO I'VE EVER HAD!! my only comment is that i only needed 3 cups of the broth ( it was done at the 18 minute mark with only that much, so I stopped there).

    1. Yay! That makes me happy. :) Good to note the possible need for extra broth (better to have too much than too little). I am making Copper River Salmon this week, I think I'll make this again with it. :)