Zucchini blossom & preserved lemon risotto with ricotta & parmesan

Zucchini blossom & preserved lemon risotto with ricotta & parmesan

By
From
New Feast
Serves
4
Photographer
Alan Benson

There’s something exquisitely ethereal about zucchini blossoms – not only is their season blink-of-an-eye short, but their fragility means they don’t take well to supermarket life. You need to hunt them down at a farmers’ market or a good greengrocer, or else grow them yourself (and zucchinis are famously easy for the home gardener).

Their natural long cavity means that zucchini blossoms are frequently stuffed and then deep-fried, but the shredded blossoms also add a glorious colour, wonderful texture and delicate flavour to creamy risottos. Here, they combine with salty-sour preserved lemon and a creamy ricotta topping in one of our new favourite earlysummer risottos.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
5 baby zucchinis with blossoms attached
30ml olive oil
100g butter
1 small onion, very roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, quartered
300g arborio rice
60ml white wine
1 1/2 litres vegetable stock, simmering
1/4 preserved lemon, skin only, very finely diced
60g parmesan, grated
80g ricotta
1 small handful basil leaves, finely shredded
salt
freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. Detach the flowers from the courgettes. Carefully pinch out the stamens and wipe the flowers clean. Slice the zucchinis into tiny discs.
  2. Heat the oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large saucepan and saute the onion and garlic for 5 minutes to flavour the oil, then scoop out and discard the onion and garlic.
  3. Add another tablespoon of butter to the pan and, when it starts to sizzle, add the zucchini and saute for 3–4 minutes, or until lightly coloured and tender. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  4. Add the rice to the pan and stir for a few minutes to coat each grain of rice with the buttery oil. Add the wine and let it bubble away until evaporated. Next, ladle in enough simmering stock to cover the rice by a finger’s width. Cook over a medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon from time to time, until most of the stock has been absorbed.
  5. Add the same quantity of stock and cook as before, until most of the stock has been absorbed. Meanwhile, shred the zucchini blossoms.
  6. Add a third of the amount of stock (reserve around 100 ml for the final stage) and when half of the liquid has been absorbed, add the preserved lemon, zucchinis and blossoms and stir gently until the stock is all absorbed.
  7. Stir in the reserved stock, the remaining butter and 40 g of the parmesan. Cover the pan and allow to rest away from the heat for a few minutes.
  8. While the risotto is resting, blend the rest of the parmesan with the ricotta and basil leaves.
  9. Season the risotto, to taste, then spoon into serving bowls and top with small blobs of the cheese mixture. Serve straight away.
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