The Surprising Ingredient Rachael Ray Tops Her Lemon Risotto With

Why do we love Rachael Ray so much? Relatable. Check. Helps make our lives easier with her 30-minute meals. Double check. Or maybe it's all of those delicious recipes she shares with us? Whatever it is, the celebrity chef that has generously offered cooking shortcuts, revealed her secret ingredient for perfect pandemic pasta, and even divulged her trick for cooking seafood without the smell makes us feel like we can cook and bake, whip and fold, as well as slice and dice, pretty much anything. Translation: Rachael Ray gets us. She knows what culinary knowledge we need before we even know we need it. 

Speaking of which, if you like risotto — and honestly, who doesn't? — you are going to be head over heels in love with Ray's recipe for her lemon risotto. This meal not only has all the beautiful citrusy and savory flavors that will make your taste buds instantly want more, but Ray enhances this amalgamation of perfection by topping off her bowl of risotto with an ingredient that is both surprising and amazing, but also a little genius. 

The nuts that make up Rachael Ray's secret risotto topping

Ray's recipe on her site for lemon risotto is so simple, but it also has some really interesting and complex flavors going on, so much so, this risotto will have your palette digging the nuanced layers of sweet, sour, and salty. This recipe calls for the zest of two lemons along with their juice, which adds a lot of tang. Ray sweetens her risotto with a little "drizzle of honey" which serves as the perfect contrast to the salty and creamy goodness of the Parmigiano-Reggiano and the starchy rice. 

When it comes to adding texture to her dish, Ray tops it off with a little chopped up mint mixed in with some finely chopped and toasted pistachios (via Rachael Ray Show). This bit of crunch is unexpected, but so satisfying and comforting, leading to what Ray calls a family favorite recipe. 

To fully round out this meal, she offers the following suggestion, "Serve with a bitter or winter greens salad. To add more protein, top with sautéed shrimp." The Food Network has a version of this recipe posted that doesn't use the pistachios, and one reviewer shared, "You'll need to cater this to your tastes. Know that it came out sour just sticking to the recipe, I modified it as I went. I added the zest of two lemons and the juice of one ... and it was lovely."