Victoria here from vmac+cheese to share a couple of lemon-inspired recipes that will put a happy kick in your step! Ah, lemons. They’re one of my absolute favorite ingredients, simply because they’re so versatile! Whether savory or sweet, the main event or a highlight, you can’t help but feel good when you’re cooking with bright, fresh, zippy lemons. While they’re delicious as an accompaniment to something as simple as grilled chicken, you can also really appreciate these citrus treats when their flavor takes center stage. In the late spring and early summer, I love making Lemon Risotto with Peas — the perfect dish for when the nights are cool but you’re no longer jonesing for hearty winter fare. Lemons are also the highlight of my Lemon and Rosemary Tart, which can be made year-round, and is easier than you think. Here are the recipes:
Lemon Risotto with Peas
This risotto is perfect on its own, but could be served as an appetizer or side dish as well. You could also try adding other springtime veggies, like pieces of asparagus. Risotto is prone to change texture if you let it set for too long (which is why arancini were invented!). I recommend that you enjoy immediately after serving — you definitely can not make this one ahead of time.
- 8 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 lemons
- 1/2 small yellow onion, peeled and finely diced
- 2 cups arborio rice
- 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a medium saucepan, heat the chicken or vegetable stock over low to medium heat, and cover. You’ll want to leave this on the stovetop, warmed and ready to go.
In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, pour in the olive oil and add the garlic. Heat over medium-high. While the garlic heats in the oil and flavors it, zest the lemons using a microplane grater. Then, cut them in half, and juice them in a separate bowl. Set the juice and the zest aside.
Once the garlic is fragrant and just starting to turn golden, add in the onion and the arborio rice. Stir, coating all the grains with the oil. Allow the rice to toast for a few minutes, continuing to stir frequently. Add in 3/4 of the lemon zest, and then stir in the lemon juice. You’ll notice that the rice immediately starts to soak up the liquid.
Using a ladle, add in a cup or two of the warmed stock to the rice. Season with salt and pepper. Continue stirring, and once the liquid has been almost completely absorbed, add in a cup or two more, seasoning with a bit more salt. Continue stirring and adding more liquid until the rice is tender and the risotto is very creamy. (It should take around 30 to 40 minutes — use that time to unplug and de-stress!). Mix in the peas and the parmesan, stirring to combine. Taste the risotto and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt or pepper if needed.
Spoon the risotto into serving bowls, then garnish each bowl with a little bit of the remaining lemon zest, and — if you’re feeling really decadent — another sprinkling of parmesan cheese. Pour a glass of white wine, and enjoy!
Rustic Lemon and Rosemary Tart
Makes one 9″ tart
I think lemon curd is one of the most undervalued sweets ever! It’s extremely easy to make, tastes fresh and light (even though with the, ahem, butter, it might not actually be . . .), and can be served in many different ways. Here, the addition of some rosemary during the cooking process gives things a subtle little twist, while store-bought puff pastry just makes life easier. Unlike the risotto, you can definitely make the lemon curd ahead!
- 3 organic lemons
- 3 sprigs rosemary
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- pinch of kosher salt
- 3 whole eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 stick butter, cubed & kept cold
- 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
- couple tablespoons of all-purpose flour
For the lemon curd:
Zest one of the lemons using a microplane grater. You should end up with about 1 tablespoon of zest total, but if it’s a little more or less than that, don’t sweat it!
Juice all of the lemons. This should yield about 1/2 cup of juice total, depending on how juicy the lemons were. In a medium pot, combine the cup of lemon juice, the zest, two of the rosemary sprigs, the sugar, salt, eggs, and egg yolks. Whisk to combine. Place the pot over medium-low to low heat, then begin adding a few cubes of the cold butter at time, making sure to whisk constantly so the eggs don’t curdle. Continue adding the butter in and whisking. Once it’s all melted, I like to switch to a spatula to scrape the bottoms and sides of the pot. Making lemon curd is like magic: one second the mixture is thin; the next, it gets super thick. Do NOT leave the stove while you’re stirring. Don’t stop to take an Instagram. If you don’t watch it and keep it moving, the mixture can go from lemon curd to lemon curdle in a heartbeat. Once the curd is very thick (it should be able to hold marks from the whisk or spatula), remove it from the heat. This should all take around 5 or 6 minutes, but keep cooking if it’s not quite thick enough.
Place a fine mesh strainer over a bowl, then pour the curd through it. You may have to gently stir the mixture in the strainer to get the thick mixture to go through. Straining will prevent any curdled egg bits from getting through (because, despite any cook’s best efforts, it can happen!). Discard the remnants in the strainer, including the rosemary sprigs. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, pressing down on the plastic so it touches the curd, and chill until it’s completely cold.
For the tart shell:
Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 400 degree. Flour a large board with a bit of the all-purpose flour, then roll the pastry out so that it’s long and wide enough to fit your tart pan. (If you don’t have a tart pan, you could also use a pie plate — or any other shallow baking dish.) Butter and flour the tart pan, then carefully lay the pastry into it, being sure to fill the sides. Use a knife to trim away excess pastry from the top. Prick the pastry along the bottom of the pan with a fork. Place a piece of aluminum foil on the pastry, then pour in dried beans or pie weights. Bake for 20- 25 minutes — this process is called blind baking. Remove the shell from the oven and let cool.
When you’re ready, spread the lemon curd into the tart shell. Garnish with a slice of lemon or two, plus the extra sprig of rosemary. Enjoy!