Farmer's Market Risotto with Zucchini and their Blossoms
When you visit your farmer's market at the crest of summer and find tender young zucchini with their bright yellow flowers still attached, grab them! They're absolutely delicious stuffed, fried, and, most of all, in this zucchini risotto. Stir the blossoms into the almost-finished dish for a splash of color and a bit of peppery flavor. There's a good reason Italians anxiously await their arrival in the markets every year.
Recipe from my new book, Kitchen Gypsy: Recipes and Stories from a Lifelong Romance with Food (Oxmoor House, 2016)
TO DRINK: White Rhône blend
1 pound baby zucchini, with blossoms attached
3 cups chicken stock
3 cups water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, minced
1 1/2 cups Arborio, Vialone Nano, or Carnaroli rice
1/2 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Remove the flowers from the zucchini and slice the zucchini crosswise into 1/4-inch slices. Cut the blossoms into thirds crosswise.
In a saucepan, combine the chicken stock and water and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to low and maintain just below the boiling point on a back burner of the stove.
Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 7 minutes. Add the zucchini and cook for 1 minute. Add the rice and stir to coat the rice with oil until the edges of the rice are translucent and there is a white dot in the center of each grain, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until the wine evaporates, about 1 minute. Add 1/4 teaspoon of salt and about 1 cup of the stock and stir the rice constantly to wipe it away from the bottom and sides of the pot. When most of the liquid has been absorbed, but the rice is still loose, add another ladleful of stock and continue to cook the risotto. Continue to add stock a ladle at a time, stirring constantly, until the rice is just beyond the chalky stage, 18 to 22 minutes. If you run out of stock, add hot water.
Remove from the stove and stir in another ladleful of stock, the parsley, butter, zucchini blossoms, and 1/2 cup of the Parmigiano. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and let sit off the heat for 5 minutes.
To serve, remove the cover, stir, sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup Parmigiano, and serve immediately.