Lemon Risotto with Clams (Risotto al Limon con Vongole)

I got the idea to combine a lemon risotto with clams from our dinner at Taverna Estia, where the dish was more elaborate and also included raw shrimp and pistachios. I had never prepared a lemon risotto before, which I understand was a very popular dish in the 1980ies in Italy. Both the juice and zest are used. You could certainly also serve this risotto without the clams. I’ve used the liquid released by the clams instead of salt, to enhance the flavor of the risotto. This is a very elegant dish that is great for a dinner party.


For 2 large servings or 4 servings as a primo piatto

  • 200 grams (1 cup) risotto rice, such as carnaroli
  • 1 untreated lemon
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) dry white wine
  • 750 ml (3 cups) vegetable stock or fish stock
  • 500 grams (1.1 lbs) vongole


Let 500 grasms of vongole soak in water as salt as the sea (15 grams/2 teaspoons of table salt dissolved in 0,5 litre/2 cups of water) litre of water) for an hour or so to allow them to purge themselves. Afterwards, rinse the vongole with cold water and discard any that are open.

Pour the stock into a saucepan and keep it hot, close to boiling.

Wash and dry the lemon. Grate its zest first…

…and then squeeze the juice out of it. The other way around does not work very well. Reserve the lemon zest and lemon juice.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a wide, low, thick-bottomed pan, and add 1/2 minced onion. Stir over medium heat until the onion is soft, 5 to 10 minutes.

Add 200 grams risotto rice, and toast over medium-high heat until the rice is very hot.

Add a ladle of hot stock.

Stir over medium heat until the stock has been absorbed, then add another ladle of hot stock. Keep stirring and adding stock until the rice is almost al dente, 15 to 18 minutes.

Put the vongole in a saucepan with 60 ml of white wine.

Cover and bring to a boil, then boil until the vongole have opened.

Drain the clams, but reserve the liquid they have released, and filter that liquid using a paper towel.

When the rice is almost al dente, add the lemon juice instead of stock to the risotto and keep stirring.

When the rice is al dente, turn off the heat, and add the liquid from the vongole, 2 tablespoons of butter, and the lemon zest. Stir until the butter has melted, and allow to rest for a minute or so. Taste whether any additional salt is needed.

Serve the risotto on preheated plates, and garnish with the vongole.

4 thoughts on “Lemon Risotto with Clams (Risotto al Limon con Vongole)

  1. *Laughter* Well, I have prepared lemon risotto often thru’ the years . . . must5 be because I oft ate it in Italy in the 80s! Must do it your way soonest and make sure I have some fish stock available!

    Liked by 1 person

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