Zucchini risotto, made with Parmesan and pantry staples, is a delicate, creamy, comforting, surprisingly easy dish to make. But don’t take our word for it. See for yourself.
This zucchini risotto recipe turns out creamy, comforting, indulgent, yet delicate in both taste and texture. Risotto perfection.–Monica L. Helton
For the vegetable broth
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 1 large carrot
- 1 medium celery stalk
- 1 handful flat-leaf Italian parsley stalks
- 2 bay leaves
For the zucchini risotto
- 2 medium (9 oz) zucchini
- 4 zucchini blossoms (optional)
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion finely chopped
- 10 1/2 ounces risotto rice such as carnaroli or Arborio
- 1/2 cup dry white wine such as pinot gris or Chardonnay
- 4 1/2 to 5 cups vegetable broth (see recipe above)
- 2 ounces grated pecorino or Parmesan cheese plus more for serving
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Make the vegetable broth
- Roughly chop the vegetables and toss them in a stockpot with the herbs and 12 cups (3 l) cold water. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a gentle simmer and cook, uncovered, for 1 hour. Strain the broth. You’ll have more than what you need for this recipe. Pour 6 cups (1 1/2 l) broth back into the stockpot over low heat for the risotto and stash the rest in the fridge or freezer for future soups and stews and, naturally, risottos.
Make the risotto
- Use a box grater or food processor to coarsely grate the zucchini. If using zucchini blossoms, roughly chop them.
- In a wide, deep sauté pan or sauce pan over low heat, warm 3 tablespoons olive oil. Add the onion along with a good pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and translucent, 7 to 10 minutes.
- Add the rice to the pan and stir until the grains of rice are glistening and thoroughly coated, about 2 minutes. Pour in the white wine and bring the heat up to medium. Let the wine simmer until almost completely absorbed, about 5 minutes. Then add just enough warm vegetable broth to cover the rice, about 1 ladleful or 3/4 cup. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally and adding a ladleful of broth at a time as the liquid reduces (about every 5 minutes). After 10 to 15 minutes, add the grated zucchini. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, and topping up with broth as needed for another 7 to 10 minutes, or until the rice is al dente. You’ll need to add a total of 4 1/2 to 6 cups broth to the risotto, depending on just how creamy you wish your risotto to be. With the last addition of broth, add the grated cheese, if using, and salt to taste. Add 1 tablespoon oil and stir until the risotto becomes creamy but still sorta soupy or, as the Italians say, loose. (Don’t worry. The risotto will become slightly thicker and stiffer as soon as it begins to cool on the plate.)
- Remove the risotto from the heat. If using the zucchini blossoms, toss them in the pan and gently stir just until they wilt. Remove from the heat and immediately ladle the risotto immediately onto warm rimmed plates. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper and, if desired, a little extra grated cheese. Serve right away. In fact, everyone should be seated at the table and waiting by the time you’re ladling risotto onto plates.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
Very few meals are kinder to your soul than a gently flavored and delicious risotto. And this zucchini risotto is a perfect example. Ordinary ingredients and uncomplicated steps make it kind to the cook as well. Both the rice and the grated zucchini (I used the larger holes of my grater) were al dente in their unique individual ways. The vegetable broth was mild but remarkably had all the flavors and aromas of what went in. A risotto’s number one charm is its lusciously creamy consistency, which begins to go away even as you are eating it. Do warm your bowls before plating. A lovely dinner.
This zucchini risotto was an easy-to-follow recipe with a crowd-pleasing result that was especially satisfying on a very cold, snowy night. The risotto was warm, creamy, and, with the addition of a little extra Parmesan cheese at the end, really hit the spot. In terms of flavor, I needed to add a pinch of salt in addition to the cheese and olive oil because it was still a bit bland with a light zucchini flavor. Perhaps if made later in the year when zucchini blossoms are available the flavors would be more pronounced. Creamy and very satisfying. I used a pinot gris.
We really enjoyed this zucchini risotto. Even though it’s still winter and we weren’t able to use locally grown zucchini, the recipe worked very well. I’m looking forward to zucchini season in a few months when I’ll be able to pick zucchinis and zucchini flowers any time I want. This recipe will come in handy when we have so many zucchinis that we’re looking for ways to use them. The dish may need some salt. If you use the optional cheese, it may work fine, but a little salt may still be needed. I also like to squeeze some lemon juice into my risotto at the end as a flavor enhancer. I used Chardonnay and I added a total of 6 cups broth. At the end, the rice was somewhat firm, but the overall dish had a creaminess from the starches that had been released. It does firm up after it cools down a bit.
This zucchini risotto recipe produced a beautifully creamy risotto. The flavor of the zucchini wasn’t particularly noticeable, and I’d love to try it again when the flowers are available to see if that adds to the risotto. That aside, the risotto was very creamy and flavorful with the addition of the cheese and vegetable broth. I used Arborio rice and pinot grigio. After the zucchini was added, the zucchini seemed to give off quite a bit of liquid, so not a lot of broth was needed after that point.
Originally published March 28, 2017