What’s cooking today: Broccoli & lemon risotto with pancetta

Tony Jackman’s broccoli and lemon risotto with pancetta, served in a risotto bowl by Mervyn Gers Ceramics. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

Lemon lends a refreshing finish to risotto. This recipe uses no cream, as I was seeking a cleaner, lighter dish.

This easy week-night supper can be prepared within half an hour. Put the water on to boil first, for blanching the broccoli. For the stock, I used 2 Ina Paarman vegetable stock sachets dissolved in 750ml boiled water (but you can use three if you’d prefer a stronger stock), to which I added the chopped (blanched) broccoli and the lemon juice.


1 medium head of broccoli

1 onion, chopped

1 celery stick, sliced thinly

2 garlic cloves, chopped thinly

4 slices of pancetta, diced

500 g arborio rice

Olive oil

750 ml to 1 litre vegetable stock (or more or less depending on when your rice becomes al dente)

200 ml dry white wine

Juice and grated zest of 2 lemons

Grated Parmesan

Salt and black or white pepper to taste


Blanch the broccoli florets in rapidly boiling water for 2 minutes, then refresh under cold running water and leave to drain in a colander.

Have the stock to hand in a jug. Keep a ladle handy.

Sauté the onion and garlic in a little olive oil until soft. It should not be caramelised. Add the sliced celery and pancetta and continue cooking, while stirring, for three minutes or so.

Now add plenty more olive oil, about 3 Tbsp, and pour in the arborio rice. Stir well so that every grain of rice is coated with olive oil. If it does not seem to be enough, add more oil.

Add the white wine and cook, stirring, until almost entirely evaporated.

Chop most of the broccoli into tiny bits, but leave a handful of the little florets whole. Add the broccoli (but not the whole florets) to the stock. Add the lemon juice and zest to the stock.

Start adding the stock a ladleful at a time, stirring now and then, slowly and gently, just to prevent it from sticking at the bottom of the pot. Repeat until half of the stock has been incorporated.

Continue adding the stock (with the broccoli in it), as above, until it has all or mostly been used up. But there’s no law that says you must use all the stock; 800 ml or so might well be enough; the risotto is ready when the rice is perfectly al dente; it must not become a mush with no definition. So trust your palate and al dente talents.

Now stir in the grated Parmesan, and season to taste with salt and white or black pepper. Stir in the remaining broccoli florets and grate more Parmesan over as you serve. Buon appetito. DM/TGIFood 

To enquire about Tony Jackman’s book, foodSTUFF (Human & Rousseau) please email him at [email protected] 

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