Now that we’re shedding our winter coats and embracing a new season, a longing for lighter, brighter, fresher foods also emerges. This delicious salmon risotto, spiked with fresh herbs and lemon, is a perfect Springtime meal! As with any risotto, it requires attentive stirring while adding broth in small increments. Other than that, though, it’s easy to prepare.
The recipe calls for ricotta salata, a firm cheese similar to feta but not as tangy or salty. DO NOT buy regular creamy ricotta cheese. If you can’t find ricotta salata, substitute feta or Parmesan cheese. Also, the dish calls for Arborio rice, a starchy, short-grained rice that gives risotto its creamy texture.
Risotto with Salmon, Lemon, Fresh Herbs, and Ricotta Salata
-recipe from Salmon: A Cookbook by Diane Morgan
Fresh herbs, a touch of lemon, and a sprinkling of ricotta salata cheese enhance the delicate flavor of salmon, making this dish outstanding and colorful. Serve this as a main course with simple accompaniments such as steamed or roasted asparagus, or a salad of field greens with radicchio, along with a crusty baguette.
Cook’s Note: Ricotta salata is a pure white, firm, rindless cheese that originated in Sicily but is made in the United States as well. Made from lightly salted sheep’s milk, it is aged for a minimum of three months. It has a nutty, sweet milky flavor and is ideal for grating, slicing, or crumbling. Use it in salads, on pizzas, and especially in pasta and risotto dishes.
Serves 4 as a main course.
5 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup diced white onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1½ cups Arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine
1 salmon fillet (12 ounces), skin* and pin bones removed**, cut into bite-sized pieces
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
Kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
3 ounces ricotta salata cheese, crumbled (or substitute feta or parmesan cheese)
In a 2-quart saucepan, bring the broth to a simmer. In a heavy 4-quart saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat and sauté the onion and garlic until translucent but not brown, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and stir until the grains are well coated with oil, about 1 minute. Add the wine, let it come to a boil, and cook, stirring constantly, until most of the wine evaporates.
Add ½ cup of the stock or broth to the rice and cook, stirring frequently, until the rice has almost completely absorbed the liquid. Adjust the heat so the risotto is kept at a slow simmer. Repeat, adding ½ cup of the liquid at a time, stirring until it is almost fully absorbed before adding more. Reserve ¼ cup of the liquid for adding at the end. After about 18 minutes, the rice will be plump, creamy, and cooked through but still slightly chewy. Stir in the salmon and the remaining ¼ cup of the stock or broth. Stir gently until the salmon is cooked through, about 3 minutes. Stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice, and fresh herbs. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Spoon the risotto into warmed shallow bowls. Garnish each serving with some of the cheese and serve immediately.
*Skinning a salmon fillet: Lay the salmon fillet skin side down with the tail facing you. Grip the tail with a piece of paper towel, or you can put a little coarse salt on your fingertips to create traction. Using a sharp, flexible boning knife, angle the blade towards the skin and, while you are gripping the tail skin with one hand, cut along the skin as smoothly as you can. Cut all the way from the tail to the head end, keeping the skin taut. Discard the skin.
**Removing pin bones: Run your fingertips along the flesh side of the fillet until you feel the pin bones. Using either clean needle-nose pliers or fish tweezers, grasp the end of each bone and pull it straight out and away from the flesh to remove it. If you try to pull them upwards or backwards it tends to tear the flesh.