- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups peeled fresh green fava beans, from 1 pound shelled beans (see note)
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Sea salt
- ¾ cup finely chopped shallots
- 8–9 cups light vegetable broth, diluted if salty
- 2½ cups Arborio rice
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- 1½ tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for the table
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium sauté pan, add the garlic, and stir for about 30 seconds. Add the peeled fava beans and sauté them over medium-high heat, stirring almost constantly, for 3 to 4 minutes, or until they color lightly. Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice, sprinkle the beans with a big pinch of sea salt, give them one more stir, and remove them from the heat. Set them aside as you prepare the rice.
Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large sauté pan and stir the shallots in it over medium heat, with a dash of salt, until they are soft, 6 or 7 minutes. Bring the vegetable broth to a simmer, cover it, and keep it hot on the lowest flame. Be sure that your vegetable broth is not too strong or salty.
Serves 6 to 8 as a center-of-the-plate dish
Add the rice to the shallots and stir over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the wine and stir as it evaporates. Add 1 cup of the hot vegetable broth, lower the heat to a simmer, and stir as the broth is absorbed into the rice. Continue adding broth, about a cup at a time, stirring almost constantly. As each cup of broth is nearly absorbed, add the next cup and stir again, and so on until the rice is tender but firm and a creamy sauce has formed around it, 20 to 25 minutes.
Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice and the lemon zest, as well as two-thirds of the sautéed fava beans, reserving the rest for a garnish. Stir in the Parmigiano, and then, just before serving, add a final, generous ladleful of broth. Immediately spoon the risotto into shallow bowls and scatter a few reserved fava beans on top of each serving. Pass the olive oil carafe and the additional grated Parmigiano-Reggiano at the table.
A Seafood Variation Lemon risotto can be made with shrimp instead of fava beans, or along with them. Peel and devein about 1 pound of fresh shrimp, wash them, and have them ready as you begin to cook the risotto. When the rice has been cooking about 15 minutes, sauté the shrimp for a moment in some olive oil with a bit of garlic and a splash of white wine. Stir the shrimp into the risotto, or into part of it, just before serving. Or add a few sautéed shrimp on top of individual servings. The large Prawns Sautéed with Garlic, which are left unpeeled, also make a good pairing.
About Those Fava Beans The well-protected fava beans must first be taken out of their large pods; then the beans need to be peeled, one by one. It’s a bit of work, but not so much that it should stop you. I timed myself the last time I peeled a pound of shelled favas (about 3 cups beans in their jackets): 20 minutes. Not a tragedy. So bring a pot of water to a boil and drop in the shelled favas. When the water simmers again, give them 2 to 3 minutes, depending on their size. Drain them, rinse briefly with cool water, and then slip off their skins while they are still warm. You’ll have a generous 2 cups when the beans are peeled.