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Lemon And Rosemary Risotto. And That Need To Re-Define

Risotto al rosmarino e limone

Rice, rosemary, lemon.

During cooking, the rice absorbs the citrus notes of the lemon and the herbaceous ones of the rosemary, creating a dish that reveals an incredible flavor from the first taste.

Lemon And Rosemary Risotto

My first taste of rosemary risotto.

I was at Podere Ciona, in Chianti, when I first tasted this risotto prepared by my friend’s mother. I have a precise memory of it because I considered it then, and today every time I prepare it myself, a memorable taste.

I asked for the recipe and I still remember a surprised and funny smile.

“Monica put the fresh rosemary already in the soffritto and make the risotto”. Easy, isn’t it?

And I say the same to you: put a few sprigs of rosemary in the onion soffritto to accentuate the taste of the risotto.

Then add the rice, a little white wine if you have a good bottle already open, stir, pour in the stock and leave to cook, stirring a little, so that the rosemary does not lose its leaves and you can serve it clean, almost like a risotto in white. Leave the surprise of the true flavor to the taste. Moreover, those needle-like leaves can also be annoying.

The lemon? It’s my own personal interpretation of the recipe. I add it while cooking and again at the end of cooking to intensify the fragrance of a risotto that you can prepare as winter comfort food or to brighten a summer table. But if you don’t like this flavor, try just rosemary risotto.

Since then I have prepared it every now and then. Then nothing for years.
Finally, I cooked it again a few days ago when I felt I had to reorganize my life after a year of pandemic and on the eve of an important birthday.

Risotto Recipes


I have never been one person for New Year’s resolutions, but, since a few years, I have started to choose a word to accompany me throughout the year. I usually make a list by checking the different meanings in the dictionary. At the beginning of the year, I believed that I would choose, without hurry, the one of 2021 as soon as I could understand “the spirit” of the year.

I don’t know if you had the same impression.
To me, the first few days of 2021 seemed similar to many others in 2020.

This idea made me think of a wall covered by ivy where branches and leaves are a metaphor for the old year masking the new. But with what has happened, it is normal that the new year should look like this, enveloped in the previous one.

Thinking that I would soon be able to see ahead the thick branches of ivy, I waited for.
In the meantime, I tied my apron and cooked recipes to exercise patience, I don’t have much of it. And nourishing dishes which, in these times it’s better to keep up, mood and health.

A sausage ragù; I made lasagne goccia d’oro again, deciding to modify the recipe to add more béchamel sauce; drunken pork chops; zuccherini cookies.

But when the first month of the year was over, I realized.

2021 will not be a photocopy of 2020, even if we still have to deal with pandemics and restrictions. Time never repeats itself, but rather we react repeating habits and behaviors.

And, above all, I realized that the wall is me.
I am the one who has stopped seeing ahead the ivy. 

Who is this woman who has lost her vision and cannot see further the tip of her nose?
Slowly I realized that it is me after a year of pandemic; after realizing that I have not accepted the passage of time, but how am I already at this point?; after counting mistakes and failures and then, again, looking at the time that remains.

And simply, suddenly, I felt like a ripe fruit smashed on the ground.
Inert, incapable, tired, failed, unhappy.

After a complex 2020 and the start of another year under the sign of pandemic, how do you feel?

Trying to react to the blackout, I think of the lockdown forced people to think and look at their lives in a different way, I did clearness around me and so it happened that I finally found the right word for me; it seemed to flow through my hands like water from a mountain spring. Cold, pure, restorative.

My word for 2021 is redefine.

The relationship with myself, time, choices.

With people, work, cooking. And also with this blog, which engages me like a job without being one.

I need to redefine myself to focus on my role in a world that is changing as I enter a different phase of life.
I will be 50 years old this year.

Redefine, my new priority.

This is the word that will guide my year, that I will carry with me every day, in every action. Trying to use this easy reminder to make the difference.

Redefine means to reorganize. On the dictionary I also read that redefine means change things and concepts. But also reformulate, reexamine, reevaluate. Trasforme.

In Italian I loved to see that redefine has connected with the action to improve, reread, re-elaborate.

I feel like re-reading old books. To study; but also to improve. To write.

I welcome the word I have chosen for 2021 with a recipe that also redefines my cooking in a clear way. Few ingredients and great flavors, one of the characteristics of Italian cuisine.

Risotto Recipe

Redefine also the relationship with food.

I would like to start again to give the right value to the food I eat.

In the past, recipes that required a long and complex preparation, enriched by expensive ingredients, were reserved for feast days. Festive foods were those not often eaten. Some dishes marked feasts and anniversaries or restaurant outings, helping to make everything special.

On the daily table, I would like to bring back simple foods.
Recipes which need few ingredients, few money and, the same, have a certain character.

I would like to spend more time exploring the characteristics of ingredients, baking and rising. Fermentation is also attracting my attention.

Among the great dishes of Italian cuisine, alongside those that are rich and complex, there are many small masterpieces of goodness and elegance that, although they originate from everyday cooking, that of home cooks, deserve to be rediscovered.

Like a lemon and rosemary risotto accompanied by a generous sprinkling of grated parmigiano and a genuine glass of wine.

Cooking has always been a comfort to me.
Each of us is destined to live through difficult times. For me, it has always been useful to focus on the problems in order to get going again. It is in the midst of difficulties that I look for solutions. When you don’t feel well, find comfort in the things that make you feel good, talk about them and always try to go further. We have the right to be happy.

Buona vita, Monica

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Lemon and Rosemary Risotto

Lemon And Rosemary Risotto Recipe

serves 4

Carnaroli rice, 280g
butter, 80g
white onion, 1 little
vegetable or meat stock, 1 liter
sprigs of rosemary, 2
grated rind of one organic lemon
olive oil and salt to taste

optional: half a glass of white wine


Finely chop the onion and cook gently in a large pan with oil, butter and a pinch of salt.

After a couple of minutes, add washed and dried rosemary. If the branches are long, break them in half.

Add the rice, stir, turn up the heat then add the wine, or a little stock, and cook, stirring until the wine is almost absorbed and pushing the sprigs towards the side of the pan.

Stir again the rice before adding half the butter, the zest of half the lemon and half the stock.

Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally but without moving the rosemary too much.

When the risotto starts to become dry, add the rest of the stock and butter and keep an eye on the cooking.

Turn off the heat when the rice grain is al dente. Before serving, let the risotto rest for one or two minutes, during which time the rice continues to cook.

Remove the rosemary and any leaves with tongs. Adjust the salt, make the plates, grate some fresh lemon zest on each plate, garnish with fresh rosemary and serve with parmigiano aside.

Choose between vegetable and meat broths:

Recipe for homemade and in season vegetable broth.

Recipe for traditional meat broth.



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