Italians Do It Better

By Gina Caputo

Italians Do It Better

So much yes right here. This is hands-down one of my most favorite dishes to make (and EAT) ever. Risotto is always going to be somewhat labor intensive with the constant stirring and ladling of broth but it's a super fun dish to cook with friends hanging out at the kitchen counter while playing music. In my house, we celebrate the Italian tradition of Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve and this is a family favorite. Amazing on its own or as a first course. Also super adaptable to make vegan. This is comfort food at its finest and the addition of lemon brings some light, high notes to a rich and creamy dish.


  • 2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1½ cups arborio rice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup dry white wine (or omit and use juice of 2 small lemons later)
  • Grated lemon zest from 2 small or 1 medium lemon
  • Juice of 1 small lemon (or 2 small lemons if you LOVE lemon like me)
  • 1 lb peeled and deveined raw shrimp (for vegan, either omit or replace with 2 cups of defrosted edamame beans or peas)
  • 1 clamshell (5 oz.) of super greens or spinach
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (for vegan, either omit or replace with ¼ cup nutritional yeast)
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Fresh cracked pepper to taste


  1. Put stock or broth into a sauce pan, and bring it to a simmer over low heat, with a ladle nearby or in the pot.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat in another large, wide sauce pan next to the broth pan.
  3. Add the onion and a pinch of salt, and cook gently until they soften and start to become translucent but not brown.
  4. Add the rice and the garlic, and stir to combine for about 3 minutes.
  5. Add the wine, if using, and stir until it has been completely absorbed.
  6. Begin adding the simmering stock, a ladleful at a time. The broth should just cover the rice and bubble up. Stir constantly until it is just about absorbed.
  7. Continue to add broth another ladleful at a time and stir until it is absorbed, then add the next. Continue to cook in this fashion – the constant stirring releases the starch from the rice which gives the risotto its unmistakeable creamy texture.
  8. When the rice is tender all the way through but still chewy, it is done. Reserve one ladleful of broth.
  9. Taste now and adjust seasoning, adding salt and pepper to your liking.
  10. Stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice and the shrimp. Stir to combine until the shrimp turns pink.
  11. Next add the clamshell of super greens or spinach and the last ladleful of broth, stir to combine.
  12. Finally, add the Parmesan, if using, and remove the pan from the heat. The mixture should be quite creamy (add more stock if it isn’t).
  13. Serve right away and chow down immediately with friends. Prepare to have your mind blown.

PS - If you haven't already figured out the "Italians Do It Better" reference in the title, hop on your YouTube Time Machine and have a look at Madonna's classic Papa Don't Preach.