Zucchini Risotto

Some of you might have noticed via Instagram that we started a little balcony gardening project this year. Especially the zucchini we planted grow like mad. Within the blink of an eye, they tend to grow into monsters that weigh almost 1 kilo. Fortunately, D. and I love zucchini. Grilled, baked, in pasta sauce, on pizza, and in risotto! Just recently we tried out a recipe from Zeit Magazine’s Wochenmarkt that turned out great so I want to share it with you. As a bonus, you get the recipe for an all-time favourite of mine: Zucchini-Fennel-Risotto à la Ktinka.

Zucchini Risotto

1. Zucchini Mint Risotto

The wonderful Elisabeth Raether loves zucchini and for this risotto, she merges them with lemon, basil and mint into a fantastic, refreshing summer dish.

What you need (for 4 servings)

  • 200g risotto rice
  • 1 shallot or small onion
  • Olive oil or butter
  • Some salt, some pepper
  • 2 medium sized or one large zucchini
  • 4 twigs of basil (complete with stem and leaves)
  • 100 ml white wine
  • The zest of one lemon (finely grated)
  • 4 twigs of fresh mint
  • A chunk of butter (30g)
  • 40g parmesan (with rind if possible)

How it’s done

Contrary to popular opinion, making risotto is not hard at all – I still wonder why everyone on Masterchef Australia panics when the Elimination Challenge calls for risotto. To me, the key to a great risotto is being prepared and being patient. As soon as the rice went into the pot you will be occupied with stirring, so I suggest you start by preparing and chopping up everything you will need:

  1. Measure your rice
  2. Chop the onion or shallot into tiny pieces
  3. Cut the zucchini into thin slices
  4. Give the basil a good trim and separate the stems from the leaves
  5. Grate the parmesan and save the rind
  6. Prepare your 100ml of white wine
  7. Grate the zest of your lemon
  8. Chop up the mint (discard the stems)

By now your kitchen probably looks like a show kitchen where everything is prepared so a nothing will go wrong – and that’s exactly what you’ll want. A burned risotto is not fun and can easily happen when you forget the stirring because you were cutting or grating or searching for the bottle opener.

Ready, set, go!

Heat up a good swig of olive oil in a large pot (I love using a heavy cast iron pot for risotto) and add the onions. Braise them lightly and add some salt. Add the rice and stir it until every grain is coated with oil, continue stirring to “toast” the rice. You will want the edges of the rice to be translucent while the centre is still opaque.

Add the Zucchini slices and the basil stems. Stir until the vegetables give away some liquid. Now you deglaze the whole thing with your white wine and stir! Season your risotto with pepper and some more salt. Stir! Add the parmesan rind. Stir! As soon as the wine has evaporated you start adding some water until the rice is covered. Stir, wait until the rice has absorbed the liquids and add more water. After about 20 minutes of stirring, absorbing and repeating, the texture of the risotto should be creamy and all liquids from your pot should be absorbed.

Traditionally risotto should be al dente, I prefer it to be a little bit on the softer side. I recommend that you try the rice in-between to check its consistency. When it’s done, you remove the parmesan rind, take the pot off the heat, add the grated lemon zest, the chopped basil- and mint leaves, butter and the grated parmesan. Give it a final stir and serve!


2. Zucchini-Fennel Risotto

I always hated fennel – until I went to Australia and fell in love with it. Now it’s one of my favourite vegetables and a perfect addition to this second risotto recipe with zucchini.

What you need (for 4 servings)

  • 200g risotto rice
  • 1 small onion
  • Butter
  • Some salt, some pepper
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 or 2 fennel bulbs
  • 100 ml white wine
  • 600 ml vegetable broth
  • The juice of one lemon
  • A good chunk of butter (ca. 30g)
  • 40g parmesan

How it’s done

The procedure is quite the same as mentioned above. Again, apart from stirring, preparation is key:

  1. Measure your rice
  2. Chop the onion into tiny pieces
  3. Cut the zucchini and the fennel into small quarters
  4. Grate the parmesan
  5. Prepare your 100ml of white wine and the broth
  6. Press the lemon

Melt some butter in your pot and add the onions. Braise, add salt and the rice. Stir until the rice is coated in fat and toast whilst stirring until the edges are translucent and the centre is still opaque. add the zucchini and the fennel and stir until they give away some liquid. Deglaze the mixture with the white wine and keep stirring. After seasoning the risotto with pepper and salt, stir and wait until the wine has evaporated. Afterwards add some broth until the rice is covered, stir and wait until the rice has absorbed the broth – stir, absorb, repeat until the risotto is creamy and all liquids have been absorbed. Take the pot off the heat and add the lemon juice, the parmesan and some butter. Stir & serve.


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