This creamy lemon risotto is the perfect warm and cozy meal with fresh lemon juice and zest, topped with these amazing crunchy herb roasted chickpeas and a pinch of flaky salt. Simple, delicious and easily made vegan and dairy free for a healthier version of the Italian classic.
How to Make Lemon Risotto
This lemon risotto is pretty simple and easy to make. You do have to stand over the stove for a bit (about 20 minutes) to get that classic creamy texture, but I don’t mind this part. I think it’s kind of relaxing actually.
Start by pouring the stock—chicken or vegetable, into a large saucepan. Bring to gentle simmer, then reduce the heat to keep warm while you make the risotto.
The risotto starts with a base of sautéed onion in a little olive oil. You want to cook the onion until it just begins to soften, this should take about 5 minutes. Next, add the garlic, lemon zest and rice. Lemon zest burns really easily can become bitter if cooked over too high a heat. Make sure to not let the pan get too hot and only cook the zest for about a minute before adding the wine.
When most of the white wine has absorbed into the rice and the alcohol has cooked off, start ladling in the broth. Start with a cup and bring everything up to a gentle simmer. Stir frequently until the liquid has absorbed. Add more stock, about a 1/2 cup at a time, taking little breaks from stirring to allow everything to come back up to a simmer.
Repeat this process until the rice has cooked through. You want tender, but not mushy (think al dente). This whole process should only take about 20 minutes. You don’t want to rush this, but If things are moving a little too slow, increase the heat slightly.
Finally, turn off the heat and stir in the parmesan, lemon juice and sugar. The parm is completely optional, but the lemon juice and sugar are important for bringing out that fresh lemony flavor. Taste the lemon risotto and add more salt. It will probably need more than you think!
Tips for Crunchy Chickpeas
These crunchy herb roasted chickpeas are the perfect topping for the lemon risotto. They cook in the oven for about the same time it take to make the risotto, so everything is ready at the same time.
My top tip for ensuring crunchy chickpeas: pat them dry. It’s important to rinse the chickpeas once you drain them from the can, but getting rid of excess moisture is going to allow them to become super crispy in the oven. You can do this by laying them out on a clean kitchen towel and gently patting them dry with paper towel. If you have time, let them air dry.
Once the chickpeas are dry, toss them with oil and a whole bunch of fresh herbs. The wonderful thing about these herb roasted chickpeas is how the fresh rosemary and oregano get coated with the oil and kind of “fry” in the oven, adding an extra little crunch.
I love adding flaky salt to my chickpeas before they go in the oven for some more texture. Regular salt can be substituted, but either way, be generous.
Roast the chickpeas for about 35 minutes. Some ovens run hotter than others, so keep an eye out for that golden brown color. The herbs will start to crisp up too. If you know your oven cooks unevenly, toss the chickpeas halfway through.
A Few Notes
- Make this lemon risotto dairy free by omitting the parmesan cheese and adding an extra tbsp of olive oil instead. To make this recipe vegan, use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock. Vegan parmesan can also be used as well as a a few spoonfuls of nutritional yeast.
- Use a wooden spoon to stir the lemon risotto. A metal spoon may break up the grains, making the texture gummy.
- Although the instructions don’t say thus explicitly, It’s really important to salt the risotto as you go. Add a pinch while the onion is cooking and maybe another in between each addition of stock. Taste everything at the end, if it seems a little bland, it needs more salt!
More Recipes to Try:
- Creamy miso butter pasta with sweet corn
- Burst cherry tomato chicken and rice skillet
- Toasted lemon pepper orzo with crispy chickpeas
- Italian stuffed peppers with sun dried tomatoes
- Vegan cacio e pepe