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Author Notes: I made this recipe one night before a big interview. As usual, I had planned my dinner for that night (a recipe I had never made before) over breakfast that day, but when my nerves got the better of me I decided to put the new recipe aside and eat simply, and comfortably. I had these ingredients on hand, as they are some of my favorite flavors, and I had recently used many of them to make Amanda Hesser's Pasta with Lemon, Herbs, and Ricotta Salata after rereading Cooking for Mr. Latte.
At 23, I frequently cook just for myself, so I have left this as a recipe for one. It can easily be increased, and also made vegetarian, by substituting vegetable broth for chicken.
*Nota Bene: Having spent months in Italy and years studying Italian, I believe that Dante would put me in Hell for such an untraditional adaptation of a classic Italian dish, but I love it enough to "abandon all hope". —Sophia Isabella
- 1/2 cup arborio rice
- 2 cups chicken stock (preferably homemade)
- 1 small lemon, zest and juice (Meyer is delicious, if available)
- several fresh mint leaves, torn into small pieces
- a few good strong grates of ricotta salata
- a pinch of pepper
- Simmer chicken stock in a pot on the burner next to where you will be cooking the rice (this way you won't have to reach over a hot steaming pot later--trust me). Squeeze the fresh lemon juice into the broth.
- In another pot, heat olive oil.
- Add rice to the olive oil and stir with a wooden spoon for a few moments until the rice is slick.
- Add white wine, and stir the rice constantly, until the liquid has evaporated.
- Using a ladle, add broth to the risotto until the rice is covered with liquid. Stir slowly and constantly until all of the liquid has evaporated. Repeat this step until you have used all of the broth.
- Serve the risotto, topped with ricotta salata, mint, lemon zest, and fresh black pepper.