Thursday, July 28, 2011

Lemon risotto and vegan lemon cupcakes

Some weeks, life can seem unnecessarily complicated. I struggle to see the point of work, routines, day-to-day activities. Fewer things make me smile. More things make me sad.

I'm yet to hit on a fool proof solution for these weeks. I think sometimes you just have to ride through them and trust that the next week will be better.

I can, however, offer a solution to an excess of lemons. And if you're lucky, the results might even help improve your week.

Lemon Risotto

Adapted from here and here

Serves 3

  • 1 shallot
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Bok choi, finely chopped (about the amount in the picture to the left!)
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 capsicum, diced
  • English spinach, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • ~1tsp lemon zest (from 1/2 - 1 lemon)
  • ~1tbsp dried basil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Saute the shallot and garlic in a non-stick pan until tender and browned, using oil to taste.
  2. Add the carrot and capsicum and cook over medium heat until starting to soften; add the bok choi and reduce heat to low.
  3. Meanwhile, bring ~1 cup of the vegetable stock to simmering point in a large saucepan and add the arborio rice. Cover and keep on low heat. When the stock is absorbed, add a further cup of stock to the rice and continue to simmer on low heat. When the second cup is absorbed, add the final cup of stock.
  4. When all of the stock has been added, add the cooked vegetable mix (shallot, garlic, carrot, capsicum, bok choi) and the English spinach to the rice. Mix through.
  5. Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, and basil. Mix through.
  6. Continue to heat over low heat until the stock is absorbed and the rice is fluffy. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Optional: Sprinkle with cheese and/or pine nuts, to taste, just before serving.

I served ours with brocollini.

The verdict? I enjoyed this dish, both hot at dinner and cold for lunch the following day. However, I hesitated over posting the recipe because Mr Bite was not a fan at all! As he is also not a fan of quinoa, brown rice or nuts (amongst other things, bless him), I decided to interpret this as a person-specific difference rather than a broader reflection on the dish. 

I will say, though, that the rice is quite lemony, so if you aren't a big fan of lemons, or strong flavours, you may want to reduce the lemon juice and rind. 

Or skip to dessert.

Vegan lemon cupcakes

Makes 12 cupcakes.

I don't own (yet...) the Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World book, but the Vanilla Cupcakes and Vegan Fluffy Buttercream Frosting recipes are available online.

There are also a few sites offering suggestions for how to turn the vanilla versions into lemon. I assume the book also offers a specific lemon recipe, but haven't seen it.

I took the vanilla cupcake recipe and substituted 1/2 tsp vanilla extract + 2 tsp lemon juice for the 2 tsp vanilla, and took the frosting recipe and substituted 1/2 tsp vanilla extract + 1 tsp lemon juice + ~1/4 tsp lemon zest for the 1 1/2 tsp vanilla.

I also made a half batch of frosting, which was more than enough.

The verdict for these? No complaints. The cupcakes themselves have a subtle lemon flavour, whilst the frosting adds a more tangy kick. As with all vegan cupcakes I've made, they're fluffy and light and delightful to both make and eat.


  1. Give me lemon anything and I'm happy. I really like the sounds of your risotto. Carby satisfaction, healthy veges, texture with the nuts and the tang of the lemon. Sounds perfect, I'll have Mr Bite's portion :-)

  2. I'm so in love. I've always adored the tang of lemon in sweets and savoury dishes, and now you go and do both at once? When can you deliver?

  3. Kari, this risotto sounds so tangy and delicious. A real comforter. Hm. Are we the same star sign or something? ;-) Feeling the same way just now so I'm guessing a lovely lemon dinner sounds the best thing and then a wee break from the treadmill.

  4. Beautiful, I adore your cupcakes, something about the taste of lemon makes me think of my grandma, she made a lemon paste that was delish on toast. :) I'm totes gonna try these little guys. And, that's an interesting addition to the rizzo. I like it. Great post, 2 for the price of 1! Love it.:)
    Trying to leave my name, won't let me. Anna Johnston.

  5. @cityhippyfarmgirl
    Thank you so much :) This soothes the dinner time hurt feelings that arise when half of the household doesn't like the meal!

  6. @Hannah I can imagine some across to Canberra? :) Not sure it will be quite the same though! There is something special about lemons, that is for sure.

  7. @Jill@MadAboutMacarons
    Lemon dinner and a break from the treadmill sounds like a foolproof evening plan to me :) I'm glad it appealed, the flavours were surprisingly comforting.

    (PS. I'm a sagittarius!)

  8. @Anna
    Eek, sorry about the name thing :/ I hope it's a temporary glitch!

    My grandmother used to make lemon butter, so I have a similar association to yours. I guess lemon recipes work whatever your age :)

  9. I love lemony flavored things. It used to be something I despised the taste of, but I have grown to love and crave it. Both recipes look so tasty :)

  10. @myveganstory
    Maybe my partner will follow your lead! I think I may crave this risotto has a more-ish flavour :)

  11. I love risotto and this looks like a fantastic way to use up lemons. I like lemon butter, but that's not vegan of course.

  12. @Liz N
    Not vegan, but still good :)

  13. He just hasn't had quinoa the right way! Mama Pea made a zucchini (er, "courgette" for the Antipodes) lasagna. I modified her quinoa recipe a touch, and serve it in roasted red peppers. Haven't met anyone, carnivorous or not, who doesn't love that...

  14. your lemon risotto sounds and looks enticing. I love the addition of bok choi. a zing of lemon sounds perfect for a rich risotto.

  15. @tinytearoom
    Thank you :) The bok choi was one of my favourite components...although I love it in just about any form.


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