Serves a Crowd

Preserved Lemon and Spring Vegetable Risotto with Grilled Pernod Shrimp

March 15, 2010
5 Ratings
  • Serves 6 to 8
Author Notes

This risotto is a celebration of the verdant flavours of asparagus, pea, fennel, and mint, all highlighted by the golden glow of preserved lemon. You can replace the preserved lemon with fresh lemon, but you’ll lose the wonderful mellowness that preserved lemon imparts – an almost candied quality that adds delicious warmth to this luscious bed of buttered comfort. We love this with grilled shrimp, but well-seared scallops, or fillets of black cod or sea bass will also do very well. NOTES: Depending on the saltiness of both your stock and the preserved lemons, you may need to use up to a tablespoon of salt in this recipe. It’s best to add a little at a time throughout the process, tasting as you go, and seasoning one last time if necessary before serving. You can replace the preserved lemon rind with the zest of a large lemon, but reduce the amount of lemon juice by half if you do. Following the ban on absinthe in 1915, anise-based liqueur became the favourite long-drink of French gourmands from Paris to Marseille. Pour one fifth liqueur to four-fifths water over ice, and serve little picholine olives on the side. Sunshine in a glass. —The Dog's Breakfast

Test Kitchen Notes

We'll never turn down a spring risotto that's flush with asparagus and peas, but we've come to expect a rich and buttery dish that tamps down the seasonal embellishments. Not so here -- The Dog's Breakfast uses anise-scented Pernod and lemon juice to brighten the rice and broiled sweet shrimp to underscore the clean flavors in the asparagus and peas. Plan this dish for your next dinner party (and save the shrimp portion of the recipe to grill for weeknight dinners.) - A&M —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • for the risotto
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 small fennel bulb, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic minced, about 1 tbsp.
  • fine sea salt, to taste
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup Pernod, or other anise apéritif
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 6-8 cups hot chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone
  • 2 tablespoons rinsed and finely diced preserved lemon rind
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped mint leaves
  • 2 cups peas
  • 1 bunch asparagus, chopped into 2-inch lengths and blanched in salted, boiling water
  • freshly ground white pepper
  • for the shrimp
  • 24 to 32 large, de-veined shrimp, shell on
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Pernod, or other anise apéritif
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced, about 3 tsp.
  • zest of half a large lemon
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary leaves
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  1. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the shrimp with the oil, Pernod, garlic, zest, rosemary, salt and pepper. Let the shrimp marinate at room temperature while you make the risotto.
  2. Prepare all of your risotto ingredients: blanch the asparagus, heat the stock, chop and measure everything out, placing it all close to hand by the stove. Once you start stirring risotto, there’s no stopping.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the onion, fennel and garlic and sweat over low heat for about 10 minutes, or until soft and translucent. Season with salt about halfway through.
  4. Add the rice and raise the heat to medium high. Stir to coat and slightly toast the rice for about 3 minutes. You should hear a lively crackling in the pot. The rice will take on a shiny, translucent coat.
  5. Add the Pernod and lemon juice to the rice and continue stirring until the liquid is almost completely absorbed.
  6. Add a ladleful of hot stock to the rice and continue stirring. It’s important to regulate the heat at this point. The rice should neither boil vigorously nor cook too slowly. You’re looking for an even, medium heat that gives the rice a billowy loft and brings some bubbles to the surface.
  7. As the stock is absorbed, continue adding it by ladlefuls and stirring. If you watch carefully, you’ll see that toward the end the rice really gives itself over to the liquid, releasing its starch to make a kind of cream. Stop incorporating stock once the rice is creamy but still al dente, cooked but not too soft. This can take between 20 and 30 minutes, and between 6 and 8 cups of stock.
  8. Remove the risotto from the heat, and immediately fold in the butter, mascarpone, preserved lemon rind, peas, several grinds of white pepper and most of the mint (save some for garnish). The heat of the risotto will cook the peas. Stir slowly to blend, check a final time for seasoning, and carefully fold in the asparagus. Put a lid on the risotto and let it rest while you quickly grill the shrimp. The risotto will expand slightly in volume, and take on a marvellous sheen.
  9. Grill or broil the shrimp for about 60 seconds on each side, or until the flesh is completely opaque.
  10. Top each serving of risotto with 4 shrimp, garnish with mint and a flourish of pepper, and serve.
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50 Reviews

Douglas B. April 2, 2020
Scrumptious. I added 3 tb of blond miso for a probiotic aspect and complete amino acid.
Douglas B. April 2, 2020
scrumptious. I added 3 tb of blond miso for a probiotic aspect and complete amino acid.
Rozza June 13, 2016
This was excellent. Thanks very much
ColoradoCook May 3, 2015
I love this risotto. The flavours are so clean and bright yet comforting. My in-laws are particular on food but loved this. I don't generally keep anise liquor in the house so use white wine instead which is just fine. I do use leek instead of onion to give an extra spring-y flavour. Just lovely!
Mirjam L. April 23, 2013
This looks amazing! Think i'll make this to tonight! Though i'm vegetarian, i guess i could leave out the shrimps just as well?
ktchnninja March 18, 2013
Just made this tonight, and my mind is blown! I used fresh lemon zest instead of preserved rind and also brandy instead of Pernod since that's what I had. I made more shrimp for leftovers... this will be a go-to for shrimp... over salads, pasta, grits, etc. Yum!
MadeInMaine March 17, 2013
Am I correct in assuming that the shrimp are unshelled when grilling? Seems they ought to be peeled beforehand, and served without shells....
audray September 20, 2012
Love Pernod!! Just made it and yum it tastes amazing :) Some left for tomorrow!! Thanks!!
audray September 20, 2012
Love Pernod!! Just made it and yum it tastes amazing :) Some left for tomorrow!! Thanks!!
audray September 20, 2012
Love Pernod!! Just made it and yum it tastes amazing :) Some left for tomorrow!! Thanks!!
Ashish N. May 21, 2012
Risotto with Grilled Shrimps... yum yum :)
Burnt O. April 25, 2012
To make this even more "springy", I substituted baby leeks for the onions. Fabulous recipe - perfect for entertaining, as long as your guests don't mind keeping you company while you stir!
kitchengardener April 22, 2012
I just made a double batch of this with enough for us and some for a friend who is sick.
I had the pernod and even the preserved lemons.
A little labor intensive but just delicious!
Spring in every bite!
Laurenzim January 28, 2012
I used JFK in NYC's idea to Blanche the asparagus in the broth and it worked perfectly!! This is an amazing recipe, and even in the dead of winter in Chicago, you can taste the spring ingredients coming together perfectly. The risotto takes alot of work, stirring and adding broth to bring to the perfect texture, but the end result is worth it!!

The only thing I would change next time, would be to leave the peas out completely. The risotto definitely doesn't cook them so to me, it takes away from the creaminess of the rice.

Great recipe!! THANKS!!
JKF I. June 6, 2011
You can blanche the asparagus in the chicken broth to save on the dishwashing. Great recipe, and a wonderful use of preserved lemons.
Marceline May 1, 2011
I just made this this evening. It's a little early for spring peas from this area, but I got some nice ones from Whole Foods - the same one as Food 52's new partner. By the way, the recipe calls for two cups and I hit it right. About 1.5 lbs. of those peas, shelled, will yield the desired amount

Whole Foods also had some yellowy substance in their olive bar which I figured correctly to be preserved lemon (mash). I was worried about using it because speaking as someone who likes things astringent I've found some Food 52 recipes to be too citrusy, but it was just what was missing when I tried the risotto before adding it.

While I know Pernod works well with shrimp, I was a little worried about making the risotto with Pernod instead of white wine. By itself I find Pernod unpalatable. But it gave it a really nice flavor, and color - a little paler than if I had used turmeric.

I liked the recommendation to essentially blanch the vegetables and let it mellow in a
covered pot after the risotto is done. But you may want to more than just blanch. I actually boiled the asparagus for two min. - perfect. But the peas weren't in fact "cooked" by the hot risotto. No big deal, they were delicious raw and added nice crunch, but perhaps blanching them for 30 sec. to one min. might give more of a "cooked" texture without being mushy.

The best flavor additive was my 3-year old helping me shell the peas.
thundercakes May 1, 2011
Made this last night, to great acclaim. I am always on the lookout for new ways to use preserved lemons, and this was not only a superb recipe as it stands, but suggests a thousand variations on the theme. All great recipes do!
jifferb October 20, 2010
Made this tonight - incredible! Thank you so much for the recipe, will make it again and again!
BrooklynBridget August 16, 2010
I just have to say, this recipe just keeps on giving! Last night, used same flavor combination with green beans, kale, and pasta. So so lovely and light.
luvcookbooks August 12, 2010
adapted the recipe for my vegetarian son and made it for dinner tonight, it was unbelievably delicious
used cream (I had gotten it to make Summer Corn Chowder, also highly recommended) instead of mascarpone
the preserved lemons are great in this dish