I’ve been making risotto for years, my family loves it. There’s nothing better on a chilly evening than a big bowl of steaming hot, creamy risotto. This zucchini risotto is exactly that, with peas, lemon and pine nuts this is perfect comfort food.
I know risotto recipe takes a little longer to make, but some things are definitely worth waiting for. And this zucchini risotto recipe is no exception. Yes you need to stand over it, yes you need to stir it and yes it takes time. But as far as I’m concerned a good risotto is worth the time it takes to make it.
Zucchini Risotto with Peas and Lemon
This zucchini/courgette risotto is lusciously creamy and satisfying. I’ve added peas and lemon to lift the flavour a bit. I know we are not quite yet in Spring but this vegetarian risotto has a little taste of Spring in it.
The lemon and thyme really make this risotto, it lifts it up and it almost tastes fresh. I also add toasted pine nuts to the finished risotto, this really adds a lovely extra texture to the dish but also adds a little extra warmth.
How to Make Zucchini Risotto:
- Fry: Cook up the onions, they need to be good and soft so you will need to cook them for at least 10 minutes, longer if you can.
- Toast: Next add the arborio rice, this needs to be toasted in the pan with the onions. Again cook for as long as you can without the onions or rice browning. I usually cook the rice and onions for about 10 minutes.
- Wine: When you add the wine it should hit a hot pan and it should sizzle immediately. You will need to start stirring now so the rice absorbs the wine.
- Herbs: For this zucchini risotto I add a little fresh thyme and garlic.
- Stock and Stir: I’m old school when it comes to risotto, I add the stock one ladle at a time and I stir continuously. I’ve tried all other ways of making risotto and this method has never let me down. So if you want a perfectly cooked creamy risotto then I recommend using this method. The better the stock you use the tastier the risotto will be.
- Vegetables: Because courgette is full of water I add it close to the end of cooking. If you have cut your courgette into small cubes then it won’t take long to cook at all. The last thing you want is for the courgette is disappear into the risotto. You want the courgette to still have a little crunch. The peas also cook quickly so add those at the same time.
- Butter and Cheese: Once you have added all the stock, you then need to finish the risotto off with a good helping of butter and cheese. This is what makes your risotto creamy! I add the butter to the pan then stir continuously until it is incorporated into the risotto. Finally, I take the risotto off the heat and I gently stir in the cheese.
- Serve: We like this courgette risotto piping hot, topped with toasted pine nuts, some more grated cheese, a little lemon zest and a good smattering of cracked black pepper.
What to Serve with Courgette Risotto:
We usually have this on its own for dinner. But if you wanted to serve this for lunch, a light green salad would be the perfect accompaniment. A good crisp Italian white wine is really perfect with this vegetable risotto as is a nice dry prosecco.
Can I Freeze Courgette Risotto?
Risotto really is best eaten fresh. I don’t recommend freezing risotto, too much can go wrong with the texture and the rice! Leftovers can be stored in the fridge but must be heating thoroughly before serving. I would only keep this in the fridge for a day.
Variations on Courgette Risotto:
- Make it vegan, switch the cheese for vegan cheese, or try it with nutritional yeast. Switch the butter for vegan butter.
- Lighten it up, use half fat cheese and butter, but please note this may give you a less creamy risotto.
- Make it creamier, if I feel that I want an even creamier risotto I add a heaped tablespoon of creme fraiche after I add the cheese.
- Add more veggies, spinach is great in this as is asparagus.
- 1 tbsp light olive oil a light or mild olive oil is best.
- 1 medium white onion (150g) chopped finely
- 1 cup arborio rice (290g)
- 1/2 cup white wine (100ml)
- 4 cups vegetable stock (1 L)
- 1 fat clove of garlic minced, two if your cloves are small
- 1 medium zucchini/ courgette (265g) topped, tailed and cut into small cubes
- 3/8 of a cup frozen peas (60g) I use garden peas
- 2 or 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1 lemon the zest of finely grated
- 2 1/2 tbsp butter (40g)
- 1/3 cup parmesan (40g) (vegetarian hard Italian cheese) finely grated
- 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- 1/4 cup pine nuts (35g) toasted
- Heat the oil in a large deep sided pan. Add the onion and cook over a medium heat until the onions are soft. About 10 minutes.Add the rice and cook until toasted, again around 10 minutes. Making sure not to brown the onion or the rice.
- Pour the wine into the pan and stir until the rice has absorbed the wine.Add the thyme, black pepper and garlic then start adding the stock one ladle at a time, stirring continuously.
- When you have about two ladles of stock left, add the zucchini/courgette, peas lemon zest. Stir and add the remaining stock one ladle at a time.
- Once all the stock has been added remove the thyme sprigs, stir in the butter, you should do this quite quickly. Then turn off the heat and stir in the grated parmesan (hard Italian cheese).
- Serve immediately with toasted pine nuts and a generous helping of cracked black pepper and more grated cheese.
- Calories are approximate and do not include extra rice used for serving.
- This dish is a naturally gluten-free dish, just make sure the stock you use is gluten-free.
- I used a vegetarian hard Italian cheese if you are not vegetarian parmesan cheese should be used.
- Arborio rice is my choice of rice for this risotto but if you have Carnaroli rice then that works perfectly.