Lemon Zucchini Risotto

Lemon Zucchini Risotto is a flavorful combination of tart lemon and zesty Parmesan cheese. Because of the fresh lemon flavor, this particular recipe pairs well with salmon or other fish, but risotto is also a dish that is delicious served on its own. The zucchini brings a mild texture that adds to the creaminess so classic in any good risotto.

If this is your first time making risotto, don’t plan it for a night that you’re in a hurry, because this is going to need a bit of your attention for almost an hour (worth it!). Try my recipe for Mushroom Risotto with a quick risotto tutorial and tips for success (It’s also one of the most popular recipes on Good Dinner Mom). After you’ve made risotto a couple of times, the process actually seems easier and less labor intensive. But patience is key as you slowly incorporate liquid into this short-grained Italian rice and the finished product will melt in your mouth.

Risotto is a comfort food and I’ve made it many different ways. I’ve made a Butternut Squash Risotto in the oven which eliminates the process of incorporating the stock one cup at a time. Though I love the recipe for the oven version, the process of slowly adding the stock while cooking the rice on your stove-top will soften the rice to a creaminess that’s worthy of your favorite Italian restaurant.

Lemon Zucchini Risotto

The recipe starts classically simple, cooking down the toasted rice with olive oil and white wine (the wine may be omitted if desired). The onion and garlic are then added for the perfect aromatics.

Lemon Zucchini Risotto

About mid-way through cooking, the zucchini is incorporated so it can break down, infusing added moisture into the rice.

The lemon is added at the very end along with the Parmesan cheese which takes the delicious-factor over-the-edge incredible. We loved this dish all by itself and it’s fabulous the next day. For added texture and bright color, this dish is tasty with some tomatoes stirred in just before serving. For even more color, keep out a handful of the zucchini that you added during the cooking process and stir it in right at the end.

Lemon Zucchini Risotto

If you’re a Risotto “aficionado”, I hope you’ll add Lemon Zucchini Risotto to your repertoire and if you’re new to cooking risotto, dig in! Just have all your ingredients ready to go and be sure to heat your stock to speed up the cooking time. Once you try it, you’ll be looking for many variations because risotto really is easy, fool-proof and versatile. Comfort food at its best.

Lemon Zucchini Risotto
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
  • ¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil, plus more to finish
  • 1½ cups Arborio Rice
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup white wine (may be omitted)
  • 2 quarts (8 cups) vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
  • 2 medium zucchini, grated
  • ½ cup parsley flakes, chopped
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Lemon zest from one lemon
  • ¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan plus more for garnish
  • Salt and freshly ground Pepper
  • Optionally, stir in grape or cherry tomatoes at serving and top with more lemon zest
  1. Heat olive oil in a stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the rice and stir until thoroughly coated and opaque, about 3 minutes. Add the onion and garlic, and cook until softened, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add the white wine and cook until reduced by half and the alcohol smell is completely gone, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add one cup of the stock and cook, stirring, until the liquid is absorbed. Continue stirring and continue to add the stock, one cup at a time, waiting until the liquid is absorbed each time before adding more. Fold in the zucchini after about the 5th cup of stock and once all stock has been added, continue to cook until the rice is tender and creamy but still al dente, 10-12 minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice and zest.
  5. Stir in Parmesan cheese and parsley. Give a quick stir to partially melt the cheese.
  6. Add salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste.
  7. Plate the risotto and drizzle with more olive oil, if desired. Top with additional Parmessan.
  8. This recipe makes 6 servings as a side dish or 4 as a meatless main dish.

Recipe adapted from Michael Symon’s Zucchini Risotto

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