On our recent trip to the Amalfi coast, we ate a lot of seafood. We only stayed in Positano for four nights, but apart from one meal of pizza, we enjoyed seafood for both lunch and dinner each and every day. Looking back on our trip, one of my favorite meals was at a unique restaurant in Marina di Praiano called Il Pirata (the pirate – see photo of restaurant below).
The restaurant is perched on the cliff and is both a beach club where you can rent chairs overlooking the sea, as well as a bar and restaurant. The meal we enjoyed that day was memorable, from the fried fresh anchovies to the grilled whole fish, but my favorite dish hands down was the risotto.
The Amalfi coast is famous for its lemon groves, and lemons are used in many regional dishes including this risotto dish. The risotto had a fresh lemon flavor and was studded with tender, sweet pieces of shrimp. We saw this risotto on the menu of many restaurants, and in fact it was often served in the shell of a variety of lemon that is huge, called Sfusato lemons.
My husband loved the flavor of my risotto dish so much that he ordered it the following day at our hotel restaurant, and it was in fact served in the large lemon.
I was so taken with the appearance of the risotto served in the lemon that I bought a couple to bring home with us so I could duplicate the recipe. (See photos of the lemon below) And those cute fish dishes in the photos were picked up in Positano as well!
For best results, this recipe should be made with fresh lemon and shrimp. You do not have to splurge and buy expensive large shrimp since they will be chopped for the recipe, but fresh (not frozen) are always best when possible. You should use an Italian variety of rice that is specifically grown in Italy, such as Arborio, Vialone Nano, or Cararoli. Arborio can now be found in most American grocery stores, but certainly can be found at an Italian specialty store.
I used a light-flavored vegetable broth for this risotto, but a mild-flavored chicken broth could be used as well. Seafood stock would be a little overpowering in this delicate dish and may mask the fresh lemon flavor. A true Italian risotto should be creamy, yet not runny, and cooked to a consistency Italians call all’onda, which translates as “with waves”.
Risotto will firm up as it cools, so do not worry if it seems a bit runny when it is finished cooking. You may not use all of the broth, but if you do run out, you can use a little hot water if needed. If you are new to making risotto at home, you may find my post The Realities of Risotto helpful.
- 2 Tablespoons Butter
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1/2 Cup Finely Chopped Onion
- 1 1/2 Cups Arborio Rice
- 1/2 Cup Dry White Wine
- 5 Cups Mild Flavored Vegetable Broth, Heated
- Juice From 1 Large Lemon
- 1 Tablespoon Fresh Lemon Zest
- 6 Ounces Cleaned Fresh Shrimp, Chopped
- 2 Tablespoons Butter
- 2 Tablespoons Finely Chopped Parsley
- Lemon Zest
- Heat the butter and oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat.
- Add the onions and cook until they are translucent, about 7 minutes
- Add the rice and stir until it is well coated with the butter and oil and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the white wine, and stir continually over medium heat until it is absorbed.
- Start to add 1/2 cup of hot broth, stirring as it is absorbed.
- Continue in this manner, adding ladles full of hot broth, and stirring continuously for about 15 minutes.
- Add the lemon juice, zest, and shrimp, and continue to cook, adding the broth, until the risotto is cooked, but remains slightly firm to the bite.
- Remove from the heat, add the butter and the parsley.
- Serve in individual bowls, garnished with additional lemon zest.