Zucchini risotto

Zucchini risotto

Risotto con le zucchine

By
From
Acquacotta
Serves
4
Photographer
Emiko Davies; Lauren Bamford

In the late spring and summer when you find piles of young, sweet zucchini at the market, with their huge, bright yellow blossoms still attached, this risotto is a weekly fixture on our table. My absolute favourite of the many different varieties of zucchini you can find are the slightly speckled, pale green, slender heirlooms with gentle ribs along the length of the vegetable. They are tender and cook beautifully. I like to grate them, which I find quick and easy in this dish. I also love the way the grated zucchini pieces blend in with the rice. Alternatively, you can slice them thinly – because of the ribs, the slices will look like little stars.

These lovely pale vegetables are known variously as Zucchini ‘Costata Romanesco’ or Florentine zucchini. If you have your own vegetable garden, these heirloom seeds are easy to buy and grow yourself so you have access to these beautiful zucchini and their flowers.

The vegetable stock recipe here is double what you will need for this recipe, but it’s always useful to have for soups or stews in place of water. If not using it right away, you can freeze it – an ice cube tray filled with stock is handy, so you can pull out exactly the amount you need.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient

Vegetable stock

Quantity Ingredient
1 brown onion
1 large carrot
1 celery stalk
1 handful flat-leaf parsley stalks
2 fresh bay leaves

Risotto

Quantity Ingredient
4 small zucchini and their flowers, about 250 g
60ml extra-virgin olive oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped
300g risotto rice, (such as carnaroli)
125ml dry white wine
60g grated pecorino or parmesan cheese, (optional)

Method

  1. To make the vegetable stock, chop the vegetables into rough chunks and place in a stockpot with the herbs and 3 litres of cold water. Bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 1 hour. Strain and set aside until needed.
  2. Wash the zucchini and pat dry. Remove the flowers and roughly slice, then set them aside. Grate the zucchini and set aside separately.
  3. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a wide, deep frying pan over low heat. Add the onion along with a good pinch of salt and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened but not coloured.
  4. Add the rice and stir through the olive oil until it is glistening and thoroughly coated, about 2 minutes. Pour over the white wine and bring the heat up to medium. Let the wine simmer for about 5 minutes, then ladle over just enough warm stock to cover the rice. Cook, stirring occasionally and adding stock to cover as the liquid reduces.
  5. After about 10 minutes, add the grated zucchini (keep the flowers for later). Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, and topping up with stock for another 7 minutes, or until the rice is al dente. With the last addition of stock, add the grated cheese (if using) and taste for seasoning (add any salt, if needed). Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and toss the rice energetically until it becomes creamy but is still ‘soupy’ – this is what the Italians refer to when they say risotto should be ‘al onda’, literally ‘on the wave’.
  6. Remove the risotto from the heat at this point (the rice will continue cooking and will get stiffer as it is plated). Stir through the sliced zucchini flowers so they wilt. Serve immediately on flat plates and sprinkle over some freshly ground black pepper and a little extra grated cheese if desired.
Tags:
Italian
Tuscany
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