Meyer Lemon Risotto

Simple risotto made with arborio rice, onion, meyer lemon zest and juice, white wine, oregano, topped with toasted pine nuts and Parmesan.

February, March, not much is growing this time of year, and usually the weather is blustery and rather gray.

That is, except for the citrus.

All over Sacramento, and most of California, orange, grapefruit, and lemon trees are laden with bright fruit.

Meyer lemons in particular are well suited for home landscapes, which is why so many people have their own backyard tree. Supposedly they don’t orchard well, but if they are spaced out enough, as in one in my backyard and one in yours, they’re fine.

The fruit is a cross between an orange and lemon, so the peel is a little more orangey than a regular lemon, and the juice is not nearly as tart. The peel itself is also mild.

Sometimes we look out into the backyard to find that some critter has eaten all of the peel off of a few Meyer lemons, leaving whole globes of lemon segments naked.

Last year I lost half of my Meyer lemon tree to a big storm (made a big batch of marmalade with the fallen fruit), so I planted a new tree. It will take a few years to get established though, so I make frequent runs to my parent’s house to mooch some from their trees.

So, here is a lovely risotto for this time of year, made with Meyer lemons. You could use regular lemons, just don’t use as much juice, because regular lemons are much more tart.

The recipe comes from my friend Jay, who stopped by to hang out and cook with me.

Jay loves to cook, but he doesn’t measure. Which means I was following him around with measuring spoons and cups the whole time he was here.

Still, the recipe is basically a guideline, like most recipes. Feel free to experiment and add, subtract to taste.

If you want a more distinct lemon flavor, add more zest. If you want more lemon flavor and more tartness, add more lemon juice. If you want more of a buttery, cheesy flavor, use more butter at the start, and stir in some more grated Parmesan near the end.

Think about what you are serving this risotto with. It isn’t meant to be a stand alone dish, but an excellent partner to something like fish or scallops. Lamb would be good too.

I even used some leftovers in a taco with strips of beef. Excellent.

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