Risotto with Salmon, Lemon, Fresh Herbs, and Ricotta Salata

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Fresh herbs, a touch of lemon, and a sprinkling of ricotta salata cheese enhance the delicate flavor of salmon, making this dish not only outstanding and colorful, but also rich and heavenly with the addition of  cheese. Serve this as a main course with simple accompaniments such as steamed or roasted asparagus, or a salad of field greens with radicchio, along with a crusty baguette.

Suggested wine: Orvieto; Friuli

Ricotta salata is a puré white, firm, rindless cheese that originated in Sicily but is made in the United States as well. Made from lightly salted sheep’s milk, it is aged for a minimum of three months. It has a nutty, sweet milley flavor and is ideal for grating, slicing, or crumbling. Use it in salads, on pizzas, and especially in pasta and risotto dishes.

Removing Pin Bones

Run your fingertips along the flesh side of the fillet until you feel the pin bones. Using either clean needle-nose pliers (I keep a pair in the kitchen precisely for this use) or fish tweezers, grasp the end of each bone and pull it straight out and away from the flesh to remove it. If you try to pull them upwards or backwards it tends to tear the flesh

Serves4 as a main course


Total Timeunder 1 hour

Make Ahead RecipeYes

One Pot MealYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Cooking for a date

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, halal, kosher, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free



Taste and Texturebuttery, cheesy, creamy, herby, rich, savory, winey


  • 5 cups Salmon Stock  or canned low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup diced white onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1½ cups Arborio rice
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 salmon fillet (12 ounces), skin and pin bones removed (see Notes), cut into bite-sized pieces
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 3 ounces ricotta salata cheese, crumbled (see Note)


  1. In a 2-quart saucepan, bring the stock or broth to a simmer. In a heavy 4-quart saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat and sauté the onion and garlic until translucent but not brown, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and stir until the grains are well coated with oil, about 1 minute. Add the wine, let it come to a boil, and cook, stirring constantly, until most of the wine evaporates.

  2. Add ½ cup of the stock or broth to the rice and cook, stirring frequently, until the rice has almost completely absorbed the liquid. Adjust the heat so the risotto is kept at a slow simmer. Repeat, adding ½ cup of the liquid at a time, stirring until it is almost fully absorbed before adding more. Reserve ¼ cup of the liquid for adding at the end. After about 18 minutes, the rice will be plump, creamy, and cooked through but still slightly chewy. Stir in the salmon and the remaining ¼ cup of the stock or broth. Stir gently until the salmon is cooked through, about 3 minutes. Stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice, and fresh herbs. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

  3. Spoon the risotto into warmed shallow bowls. Garnish each serving with some of the cheese and serve immediately.

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