Spring Summer Rice Recipes Fruit

Lemon risotto with crisp sage


‘Zesty, crispy and marvellously creamy’

Herbs are essential in summer cooking. Their bright colour and fragrance gives immediate freshness to all sorts of dishes, raw or cooked. I particularly like to eat sage fried, it takes on a wonderful crisp texture and softens its potent flavour.  Choose Italian lemons with bright zest and thick skins.


Serves 6

This recipe originally appeared in House & Garden magazine


1.25 litres light chicken stock
40g unsalted butter
4 sticks celery, finely chopped
1 head of fennel, finely chopped
300g risotto rice
1 unwaxed, organic lemon
100ml Martini Bianco (sweet white vermouth)
2 tablespoons olive oil
30g sage leaves

To finish:
20g unsalted butter
20g grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving


  • Bring the stock to the boil, set aside and keep warm.
  • Put a low, wide, heavy-bottomed pan on a medium heat. Add the butter and when it starts to foam, add the celery and fennel with a large pinch of salt.
  • Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables are soft.
  • Meanwhile, cut wide strips of zest from the lemon and slice into fine shreds. Reserve the rest of the lemon for later.
  • Add the shreds of zest, rice and another large pinch of salt to the pan. Fry for a minute, stirring well so the outside edges of the rice become translucent. Add the vermouth, stirring as it bubbles.
  • When the vermouth has been absorbed into the rice, add a ladle of stock, stir the rice again and allow it to cook until the stock is absorbed.
  • Continue adding stock and stirring, keeping the heat high enough so that there are always a few bubbles and enough liquid to keep the rice wet.
  • While the risotto cooks, fry the sage leaves: heat the oil to high in a frying pan and fry the leaves for a few seconds on each side, in batches if necessary. Drain on kitchen paper.
  • When the rice is beginning to feel al dente (after about 15-20 minutes) turn off the heat and add the remaining butter and Parmesan. Stir vigorously to create a creamy sauce surrounding the grains of rice.
  • Add the juice of half the lemon and stir again, the risotto should be wet enough to exude liquid when spooned onto a plate, this is your chance to add more stock (or water) as necessary. Taste for seasoning, add salt and black pepper and more lemon juice if required.
  • Serve with lots of sage leaves scattered over each plate and extra Parmesan.



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