Lemon Risotto With Peas

Lemon Risotto With Peas

chemotherapy and radiation treatments, the day-to-day reality of nausea, loss of appetite and difficulty eating can be very challenging and very real. These symptoms are more than just unpleasant or inconvenient; a reluctance to eat and a reduction in daily calories can result in weight loss, weakness, fatigue, malnutrition and muscle wasting, at a time when your body needs all of its resources to be operating at optimal levels in order to better manage the side effects of treatment, and to fight the cancer itself.

The challenge for both patients and caregivers is to find recipes that are appealing, even as the body reacts to the rigors of treatment. We love this comforting risotto, because it addresses several of the side effects cancer patients face in one easy-to-make, calorie-dense dish. Risotto is soft, mild, easy-to-eat, and may even help ease nausea symptoms or other forms of gastrointestinal distress, because rice has a binding effect on the intestines, is easily digested, and is high in carbohydrates.

Some patients find that chemotherapy or radiation treatment affects their sense of taste, sense of smell or appetite. A squeeze of lemon may make some foods more appealing and help ease the symptoms of dry mouth, but remember that acidic flavors can be problematic for patients suffering from mouth tenderness or sores; these ingredients can irritate the mouth and aggravate these symptoms.

Lemon Risotto With Peas

Serves 6


  • 4 1/2 to 5 cups reduced-sodium chicken stock, divided

  • 2 shallots, finely chopped

  • 1 tablespoon butter

  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked arborio rice

  • Salt and pepper, to taste

  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice

  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed

  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  • Zest from 1 lemon


In a small saucepan, heat chicken stock and keep warm over low heat. In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, melt butter and sauté shallots until tender, about 2-3 minutes. Add the arborio rice, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes. Stir in 1/3 cup chicken stock and lemon juice, and continue cooking and stirring until liquid is absorbed.

Stir in warm stock, ½ cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing liquid to absorb in between each addition. Continue adding stock and stirring until risotto is creamy and rice is tender, about 20 minutes total. Stir in peas, cheese and lemon zest, and continue cooking and stirring until heated through. Serve immediately with additional grated cheese.

Mari Beth Price