lemon risotto with spring onions & greens

by Megan Fleiner in

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I’m sorry for my absence, but I’ve been a little busy recently. Not busy in a bad way, but busy in a the-sun-is-shining-and-I-don’t-want-to-be-locked-inside-staring-at-my-computer-screen kind of way. The beginning of summer kind of does that to me (as I’m sure it does for most of you out there).

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Last week, I turned 26. To some this particular birthday is ho-hum, a non-milestone, an oh-goodness-I’m-one-year-closer-to-30 birthday. But isn’t every birthday a reason to celebrate? A reason to jump out of bed with a big smile on your face and say, “goodness, this is a great life.” Because no matter what stage of life you are in, getting older feels like progress doesn’t it? I feel like I know a lot more about myself, my loved ones, and this crazy, whirlwind life than I did at 10, 16, 20, and even 25. It’s kind of an amazing thing – no matter how hard you try, you will become wiser in one way or another over each year. That’s just how experience works.

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As for my birthday-celebrating, this may have been my favorite year yet. Dinner at a great local place with Ryan, a big birthday cookout with 20ish of my friends here in Charlotte, strawberry-picking at a local farm, leisurely chatting at a beer garden with friends, a vineyard tour/treehouse picnic date… the stuff of (my) dreams, really. Maybe that is something else that comes with age – the ability to really seek out what makes you happy and fills you up.

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In the midst of all this celebrating, I was so amazed by Ryan. Wow, that man loves me so well. He made all of my birthday wishes come true, and then some. I am sure most of the activities listed above would not be his first choice to spend his Memorial Day Weekend, but in reality they were, because they made me happy. Sorry for bragging, but that Ryan? He’s a keeper.

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So to begin saying thank you, I made this risotto. Creamy, delicious, and filled with ingredients from our CSA and little backyard garden – it was a big hit. I am a bit of a control freak when it comes to cooking (I’m working on it!) and this is the perfect team-effort meal. There is a lot of stirring to be done when it comes to risotto, so it is really nice to have an extra set of hands in the kitchen. I’ve made several versions of risotto at home, and this is one of my favorites. And guess what? There is no cheese… which made me nervous at first but I didn’t miss it one bit.

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Lemon Risotto with Spring Onions & Greens

4 tablespoons salted butter, divided

3 spring onions, chopped (I use the white and about half of the green parts)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 ¼ cups Arborio rice

¾ cup dry white wine

3 ½ cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

1 tablespoon olive oil

5 cups greens (I used 3 cups Swiss chard and 2 cups mizuna)

1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

¼ cup fresh herbs, chopped (I used a mix of parsley, lemon thyme, and rosemary)

Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a small saucepan, heat the chicken (or vegetable) broth over low heat.

Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions to the butter and cook until softened, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the Arborio rice, stirring until the grains are completely coated and opaque – about 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the white wine to the rice and stir until all the liquid has been absorbed. In ½ cup ladlefuls, add the heated broth to the rice, stirring after each addition until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Repeat until all of the broth has been added to the rice mixture. This can take up to 30 minutes (I recommend finding a helper for this part!).

Meanwhile, sauté whatever greens you are using in a large pan with the olive oil. Drain and set aside.

Finish the risotto by stirring in the remaining butter, yogurt, lemon zest and juice, greens, herbs, and salt & pepper. Serve immediately. (This also makes great leftovers if you are cooking for 1 or 2.)

Serves 3-4, can be easily doubled.