Another simple spring recipe which is among our favourites: a delicate risotto with fresh vegetables, rich in flavour and colour.
Apron-to-dish time: 30 minutes. It could take less, but hurry does not become a risotto.
For 4 servings:
- one zucchini per person
- half an onion per person
- 300g of rice Vialone nano, or Carnaroli, or Arborio (no parboiled rice)
- two or three cherry or date tomatoes per person; as ripe as they get but not gone soft
- one glass of white wine
- 30g of butter
- 50g of grated parmesan
- 1l vegetable broth
Put water and a stock cube on the fire or vegetable broth, if you have it. You’ll need it to boiling point.
Also, prepare 50g of grated parmesan and 30g of butter.
Make sure you get the best fresh veggies you can get. this risotto has a very delicate taste. If the veggies aren’t tasty, neither will be the risotto. I love to repeat that Italian cuisine is about ingredients, more than process.
Mince the onion very finely, and put in a pot (earthware is best) with two tablespoonfuls of olive oil. Give it a lively heat and stir gently every now and then until the onion becomes almost translucent.
While the onion cooks, dice the zucchini and the tomatoes. Once the onion is translucent, toss in the zucchini (not the tomatoes) and the rice. Stir for three or four minutes, until the rice loses most of its opacity and becomes slightly golden.
Once the rice has become slightly golden and almost translucent, pour the white wine and let evaporate while stirring gently.
Once there is no more identifiable liquid wine in the pot (there may be a little sauce), throw in the tomatoes, and cover with hot broth. Lower the flame to a gentle simmer. Keep adding broth so that the rice is always covered with liquid. Stir very gently every couple of minutes, just to make sure it does not stick. Keep the mix very liquid for the first ten minutes.
After the first ten minutes, start adding less and less broth to compensate for the evaporation. The idea is to always have free liquid in the pot, so the rice can cook, but not so much that it requires more than a couple of minutes to evaporate.
After 18 minutes, the rice is cooked. Throw in the parmesan and butter, stir gently until they amalgamate, the put a lid on the pot and let rest for 5 minutes. This is called “mantecare” (an Italian verb from the Spanish word meaning “butter”, literally ” to make butter-y, as the rice will acquire the softness of soft butter).
And there you are, after 5 minutes serve and enjoy!
How about frozen, sliced zucchini? And canned tomatoes? Why not. I you absolutely cannot get hold of even greenhouse vegetables, frozen is still better than nothing. Having a spring-looking dish can be worthwhile during of a long winter, so go for it. Just note that frozen zucchini will tend to liquefy, so put them in the pot when you put the tomatoes.