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Courgette and Lemon Risotto

There’s something inherently comforting about a bowl of risotto. Perhaps it’s the way the creamy rice envelops you in warmth or the satisfaction of creating something so delicious from simple ingredients. This courgette and lemon risotto takes that comfort to the next level, combining the creamy texture of traditional risotto with fresh, vibrant flavours.

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The beauty of this courgette and lemon risotto lies in its ability to transform humble ingredients into a dish of creamy, comforting luxury. Perfect for a cosy dinner or an elegant meal for guests, this hearty dish is perfect for any season.

What is Risotto?

Risotto is a classic Italian dish known for its creamy texture and versatility. Originating in Northern Italy, particularly in the regions of Piedmont, Lombardy, and Veneto, risotto is a staple in Italian cuisine. The word “risotto” comes from the Italian word “riso,” meaning rice. Unlike other rice dishes, risotto is cooked slowly by adding hot broth gradually, allowing the rice to release its starch and create a rich, velvety texture.

Risotto gained popularity due to its ability to absorb flavours and its adaptability to different ingredients. It became a symbol of Italian comfort food, celebrated for its ability to transform simple ingredients into a luxurious dish.

The Benefits of Using Hot Broth for Courgette and Lemon Risotto

One critical step in making this courgette and lemon risotto is using hot broth. Adding hot broth to the rice ensures that the cooking process remains constant and helps the rice cook evenly. 

  • Even Cooking: Hot broth maintains the temperature of the rice, allowing it to cook uniformly. Cold broth can lower the temperature and disrupt the cooking process, resulting in unevenly cooked rice.
  • Creamy Texture: The gradual addition of hot broth helps release the rice’s starch, creating a creamy consistency that is the hallmark of a good risotto.
  • Flavour Absorption: Hot broth infuses the rice with flavour more effectively, enhancing the overall taste of the dish.

Dutch Ovens: The Perfect Pot for Risotto

A Dutch oven is a versatile and essential piece of cookware for making risotto. Known for their heavy, thick walls and tight-fitting lids, Dutch ovens provide several advantages:

  • Even Heat Distribution: The heavy construction ensures even heat distribution, preventing hot spots and allowing the rice to cook uniformly.
  • Heat Retention: Dutch ovens retain heat well, maintaining a consistent temperature throughout the cooking process.
  • Versatility: Besides risotto, Dutch ovens are perfect for soups, stews, braises, and even baking bread, making them a valuable addition to any kitchen.
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Courgette and Lemon Risotto Ingredient Replacements

While the traditional recipe calls for specific ingredients, there are plenty of substitutions you can make to accommodate dietary preferences or ingredient availability:

  • Shallots/Brown Onion: Substitute with leeks or red onion for a different flavour profile.
  • Garlic: If you’re out of fresh garlic, use garlic powder or garlic-infused oil.
  • White Wine: Replace with an equal amount of chicken or vegetable broth with a splash of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar for acidity.
  • Parmesan: Nutritional yeast or a dairy-free Parmesan substitute works well for a vegan option.
  • Crème Fraîche: Swap with sour cream, Greek yoghurt, or a dairy-free alternative.
  • Butter: Use olive oil or a plant-based butter substitute for a vegan version.
  • Courgettes: Try using other vegetables like asparagus, peas, or spinach.

Loved This Courgette and Lemon Risotto?

If you made this courgette and lemon risotto, let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag your photo #theculinarycartel on Instagram so I can see what you come up with.

Looking for more delicious risotto recipes?

Quick Barley Risotto with Mushrooms, Herbs, and Rocket Pesto

Creamy Vegan Barley Risotto

Easy Baked Risotto with a Twist

Happy cooking!

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make this courgette and lemon risotto ahead of time?

Risotto is best enjoyed fresh, but you can partially cook the rice ahead of time, stopping when it’s still slightly undercooked. When ready to serve, finish cooking by adding the remaining broth and other ingredients.

Why is my risotto too thick?

Risotto should be creamy and slightly runny. If it’s too thick, add a bit of hot broth or water to loosen it up to the desired consistency.

Can I use a different type of rice?

Arborio rice is the traditional choice for risotto due to its high starch content. However, you can also use Carnaroli or Vialone Nano rice. These varieties also produce a creamy texture.

How do I store leftover risotto?

Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. They can also be reheated gently on the stovetop, adding a little broth or water to restore their creamy consistency.

Can I make risotto without wine?

Yes, you can omit the wine and use additional broth with a splash of lemon juice or vinegar for acidity.

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Courgette and Lemon Risotto

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  • Author: Jess Bunn
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 portions


This courgette and lemon risotto takes comfort to the next level, combining the creamy texture of traditional risotto with fresh, vibrant flavours.


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 shallots or 1 brown onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated or finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups (315g) arborio rice
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1,3 L hot chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 lemon
  • 70 g (scant cup) freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 125 ml Crème fraîche
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 large courgettes
  • 15 g chopped fresh parsley


  1. Place a large Dutch oven or pot over medium heat. Once hot, add a drizzle of oil.
  2. Add the diced shallot/onion and cook on medium heat for a few minutes until translucent and softened.
  3. Add the arborio rice and garlic and toast for a few minutes until the rice is semi-translucent. Add the wine and cook it off until nothing remains.
  4. Add about 250 ml of hot stock to the rice, gently stirring with a wooden spatula. Allow the rice to simmer for a minute or two, stirring once or twice again as the stock is absorbed into the rice.
  5. Repeat until the stock is used up and the rice is nearly cooked but still quite al dente (it will finish cooking while resting). The risotto will be thickish and creamy.
  6. Turn off the heat, add the lemon zest, parmesan, crème fraîche, butter, and grated courgette, and stir until the ingredients are just incorporated. Cover the pan and rest for 4 minutes. The courgette will cook in the residual heat.
  7. Remove the lid, stir the rice and season to taste liberally with salt and lots of pepper, adding a little lemon juice to taste from the zested lemon to bring out the citrus flavour. When spooned into serving bowls, it should be creamy, yielding into a gentle, soft puddle. If it’s holding its shape in any way, stir in a touch more creme fraiche and stock if you have any left (or hot water)
  8. Spoon into bowls and serve with more parmesan, chopped parsley and a drizzle of good olive oil if desired.
  • Cook Time: 30 min
  • Category: Mains
  • Cuisine: Italian
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