Zucchini season will soon come to an end, but there’s still time to enjoy this icon of the summer garden. We’ve made salads, pasta, bread, gratins, and all sorts of things with zucchini, even though it was a sad zucchini year for us after losing all our zucchini plants to garden pests. Risotto is comfort food for me anytime of the year no matter what I put into it, and this zucchini risotto with our fresh homegrown basil and garlic does not disappoint. The Grana Padano cheese adds a slightly nutty yet delicate flavor that is worth the search, but you can also substitute Parmigiano Reggiano if you can’t find Grana Padano. The recipe is adapted from My Italian Garden, by Viana La Place (in my personal collection), a lovely little book with watercolor illustrations based on cooking from her own Italian garden in San Francisco. The book is divided into seasons, making it perfect for cooking with seasonal produce.
This is my contribution to Grow Your Own, the blogging event that celebrates the dishes we create from foods we've grown, raised, foraged, or hunted ourselves. Praveen of Masala Heaven is our host for this round, so be sure to visit her blog for more information about submitting your post. If you are new to the event, you can read more about the rules for participating at the Grow Your Own page. I hope you will join us!
Zucchini Risotto with Basil
- 3-quart sauce pan with heavy bottom
- 2-quart sauce pan
- box grater (optional)
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil (+2 tablespoons)
- ½ medium yellow onion (finely diced)
- 2 medium zucchini (grated)
- 2 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
- 2 cups Arborio rice
- 8 fresh basil leave (chiffonade)
- sea salt (to taste)
- fresh ground black pepper (to taste)
- ½ cup Grana Padano cheese (freshly grated. You can substitute Parmesan if necessary.)
- In the 2-quart sauce pan, bring the vegetable broth to a simmer. Keep it hot but not boiling.
- In the 3-quart sauce pan, heat ¼ cup olive oil over low heat. Add the onion and sauté slowly until soft. Add the zucchini and garlic and sauté over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the rice and stir until the rice is translucent, about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Reduce temperature to low. Add the hot broth to the rice mixture one ladleful at a time, stirring frequently. Wait until the liquid is absorbed before adding the next ladleful of broth. Midway during cooking, add the basil and salt and pepper to taste. Continue cooking until all the broth has been added.
- Test the risotto to make sure it’s al dente, but not too hard. If it’s still a little crunchy, add a ladleful of water and continue stirring. When risotto is ready, remove from heat and stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the Grana Padano cheese. Serve immediately.