Emoni’s Risotto

a plate of mushroom risotto

This recipe has a story behind it. It’s based on the book “With the Fire on High” by Elizabeth Acevedo. We have an episode of Lit Sh*t, the podcast I cohost, coming out today where we discuss this book, and I wanted to publish this recipe to accompany it. I’m calling it Emoni’s Risotto, but it’s actually a different character who cooks it. Emoni is the main character, a high school student and talented chef. In the book she’s about to drop out of a culinary arts class she loves when she tries a plate of mushroom risotto at a fancy restaurant and is inspired to stick with the class. She describes the flavors in the risotto, and there’s one flavor she can’t identify. It turns out to be orange zest, and that got me curious about how it would taste to add orange zest to a mushroom risotto. The final recipe was too delicious not to share.

If you make this version of Emoni’s risotto, please let us know what you think! We’d love to hear from you, either in the comments below or on social media!

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Emoni’s Risotto

Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Course: Main Course
Keyword: gluten free, risotto, vegetarian
Servings: 4
Author: Erica


  • 4 tbsp butter, divided
  • 8 oz cremini mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp orange zest
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • salt, to taste


  • Melt 1 tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
  • Add the chopped cremini mushrooms, season with a pinch of salt, and saute until browned, about 3 minutes. Remove to a bowl and set aside.
  • Melt 1 tbsp butter in the same pan, and add the onion and a pinch of salt. Cook until starting to soften, 4 minutes.
  • Melt the remaining 2 tbsp butter in the pan with the onions and add the 1 1/2 cups arborio rice and another pinch of salt. Toast lightly for two minutes.
  • Start adding the 4 cups vegetable broth to the pan a splash at a time. In between additions, stir until the rice absorbs the broth. Add the broth gradually this way until all the broth is absorbed and the rice is tender, 25-30 minutes. When you stir, the spoon should leave ruts in the rice which gradually fill in.
  • Add the 1/2 cup white wine and stir until absorbed. Then add the 1/2 heavy cream, 1 tbsp orange zest, and 1/4 cup chopped basil and stir until mixed in.
  • The risotto will keep for 2-3 days in an airtight container in the fridge.

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