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Lemon & pea risotto with chicken

Mar 31, 2021 | Light vegetarian, Mains, Poultry

Lemon and peas are delicious together and, in this risotto, you can see just why. Risotto is a popular Italian rice dish that can be served as a starter, main course or side dish. Arborio rice is a short grain rice and gives this dish its typical creamy, soft texture. Stock is gradually stirred into the rice so that it can cook slowly, but it should not be cooked until it is completely soft. The Italians refer to this as ‘al dente’, as with pasta. This simple combination is divine and can be enjoyed as a main meal or light meal without the chicken.


Lemon & pea risotto with chicken

Recipe from Make five/Maak vyf
Serves 6


15 ml (1 tbsp) olive or avocado oil

2 leeks, halved and sliced

1 large clove garlic, crushed

500 ml (2 cups) uncooked arborio rice

250 ml (1 cup) dry white wine or water

finely grated rind of 1 lemon

30 ml (2 tbsp) lemon juice

1,5 litre (6 cups) weak vegetable stock

250 ml (1 cup) frozen peas, rinsed

2 handfuls baby spinach

60 ml (¼ cup) finely grated pecorino or parmesan cheese

45 ml (3 tbsp) fresh thyme leaves

45 ml (3 tbsp) olive or lemon-flavoured avocado oil

lemon juice, salt and pepper

6 pan-fried chicken breast fillets, sliced

extra pecorino or parmesan cheese, olive or avocado oil and lemon wedges to serve



1. Heat the 15 ml (1 tbsp) of oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Sauté leeks and garlic until soft. Stir in the rice and sauté for a few more minutes.

2. Add the wine or water all at once and continue stirring until everything has been absorbed.

3. Stir the lemon rind and juice into the stock and keep warm in a separate saucepan over a low heat.

4. Ladle warm stock over the rice, one or two spoonfuls at a time. Gently stir until everything is absorbed, before adding more stock.

5. Take care not to overmix the risotto, as the rice grains can easily become soft and mushy. Repeat the process with the remaining stock or until the rice is just cooked (‘al dente’) This should take 25-30 minutes.

6. Gently stir in the peas, spinach, cheese, thyme and oil. Season to taste and serve with the chicken breast fillets, extra cheese, a dash of oil and lemon wedges.


1. Serve the risotto without the chicken breast fillets as a starter.

2. Replace the chicken with pan-fried pork fillet’s, fish or crispy bacon for a main meal.

3. Broccoli florets can also be added towards the end of the cooking time.

This recipe was featured in the November 2020 issue of LiG Tydskrif.
Image: Adel Ferreira Photography.

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