If you’ve never made risotto before, this is a great recipe to start with.  It’s pretty easy to make and is a great dish to impress someone with.  You could also get creative by using asparagus instead of peas for a great alternative.  Don’t forget the lemon zest, it adds a nice brightness to the dish.

1 1/2 cups arborio rice
6 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 garlic cloves
4 tablespoons butter
1 leek, thinly sliced and rinsed well (white and light green parts only)
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups fresh or frozen peas (thawed)
8 ounces thickly sliced deli ham, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1/2 cup grated pecorino romano cheese, plus more for topping
salt and black pepper, to taste
zest of 1 lemon

Heat the broth and garlic in a saucepan over medium heat until steaming; keep warm.  Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add the leek and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 2 to 3 minutes.  Add the rice; cook, stirring until toasted, 2-3 minutes.  Stir in the wine and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until absorbed, 3-5 minutes.

Add 3 cups hot broth to rice; cook, stirring constantly, until mostly absorbed, 8-10 minutes.  Add 3 more cups hot broth; continue cooking, stirring, until the risotto in tender and thickened, 12-14 minutes.

Reduce the heat to low and stir in the peas, ham, cheese and remaining 2 tablespoons of butter.  Stir in more hot broth if the risotto is too thick.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Top each serving with more cheese and some lemon zest.

Serves 4