Risotto with Zucchini & Pickled Squash Blossoms

This is a perfect early summer recipe to celebrate the abundance of July zucchini! The excess of blossoms means that you can pick a few without harming the plant and impacting future yield. 

We begin this dish by the pickling of the squash blossoms. We usually pickle them with saffron to enhance the color, but it’s not necessary, a simple pickle will do just fine.  Be sure to carefully open each blossom to remove the stamen and check for any ladybugs or little bees that may have slept in the blossom the night before. Once cleaned, place the zucchini blossoms in a non-reactive container until you pickle them. Pickling the blossoms a day or two ahead will save you time, and they will keep well in their pickling liquid stored in the refrigerator for up to a month.

Risotto with Zucchini & Pickled Squash Blossoms

Yields: 3 servings as an entree, 4 servings as a starter

Pickled Squash Blossoms

Ingredients

  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cups distilled white vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 10 coriander seeds
  • 5 fennel seeds
  • 12 zucchini/squash blossoms

Method

  1. In small pot, add the water, vinegar, sugar and spices and bring to a simmer.  Carefully pour the pickle liquid over the cleaned squash blossoms and set aside.  


Risotto with Zucchini

Ingredients

  • 4 cups arborio rice (carnaroli would be a perfect substitute)
  • 3/4 cup onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • ¼ cup salt 
  • 1½ cup zucchini, diced (season with salt, and leave to drain on a kitchen towel)
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated 
  • ½ cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ lb unsalted butter
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 12 cups unsalted vegetable stock (chicken stock or even water would be fine to substitute)
  • 12 pickled zucchini blossoms (see above)
  • 6 large leaves of basil, torn into small pieces (optional, but it tastes great!)

Method

  1. In a large saucepan, bring your vegetable stock to a boil.  Allow the stock to cook at a rolling boil, stirring intermittently. Set aside.
  2. In a heavy bottom saucepan over medium high heat, add the olive oil, onion, and garlic.  Cook until translucent.  
  3. Add rice and stir for 3-4 minutes to allow the rice to toast evenly.  Season with salt.  Once the rice has toasted, add 4 cups of the vegetable stock and carefully stir, ensuring that no rice is sticking to the bottom of the pan. As the rice continues to cook, more of the starch from the rice will thicken the cooking liquid. This is normal. 
  4. Once the rice begins to sit above the level of the stock in the pot, it is time to add another 4 cups of vegetable stock (this usually takes 6-8 minutes).  Give the rice another stir to ensure that the granules are not sticking to the bottom of the pot.  Once the liquid comes back to a boil, reduce until the rice once again rises above the level of the stock. At this point it is time for the final addition of stock. Once again, allow for the rice to cook and the stock to reduce to about ⅓ its volume. 
  5. Once the final addition of stock has reduced, turn the burner off, and add your butter and Parmesan cheese. Stir vigorously! The goal is to whip air into the risotto to make it light and fluffy. 
  6. Add in the diced zucchini and finish with the lemon juice and more salt if desired. 
  7. Transfer the risotto to shallow bowls, and top with a few pieces of the pickled squash blossom (and the basil if you’re using it).

John Patterson

Posted by John Patterson

July 6, 2021

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