When Divya from Flavour Fiesta asked me to write a recipe for her beautiful magazine I was really excited! I have always liked her website and I simply love her magazine: content, style, photos… everything! You MUST check it out, trust me!!! When she said the theme would be spring I was intrigued and I immediately started thinking about what could be representative of Italy and spring at the same time. Whenever I think of spring I think of flowers and in this case… edible flowers. Italians eat quite a lot of zucchini flowers in spring. I personally love them and was ecstatic when I realised I could easily find them in Sydney!
This risotto is one of my favourite ways of eating zucchini flowers. It is healthy (I only used extra virgin olive oil and no butter), delicate, colourful and elegant, especially if served in a Parmigiano Reggiano basket. To make things more fun, try and use tomatoes and the left over stems to make spring bugs and serve them on the side! I made a butterfly and a ladybird (using cloves as “dots”). Please, head over to see what beautiful article Divya put together from this and 2 other great recipes by 2 of my favourite blogger friends! Thank you again Divya!!! Enjoy everyone and… buon appetito!
Ingredients (for 4 persons):
320 gms – 11.3 oz. rice (Arborio, Carnaroli or Vialone nano)
½ onion, finely chopped
20 zucchini flowers (+ 4 for garnishing)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (plus 1 tbsp to add at the end)
50 ml – 1.7 oz. white wine
1 lt – 33.8 oz. salty water or vegetable stock (I used water as I did not want the stock to overpower the delicate flavour of the zucchini flowers)
1 pinch saffron threads
4 tbsp Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated
Salt to taste
More Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated to make the baskets
Start by making the Parmigiano Reggiano baskets. Put a piece of baking paper on a frying pan, making sure it is flat and completely touching the surface. Now sprinkle some Parmigiano Reggiano on it, making a circle. Make sure to cover the full surface of the circle (do not leave any big holes) and not to make the layer too thin or the basket may crack. Now put the pan on the fire. When the cheese has completely melted, pick up the baking sheet and flip it on the outer surface of an upside-down bowl. Press it down gently on the bowl, to shape the basket. Do this immediately as the melted cheese hardens fast. Let it cool down for a couple of minutes, then gently peel off the baking paper and let the basket cool down and harden completely. Gently lift the cheese basket off the bowl, turn it upside down it and keep it aside.
To make risotto, start by putting the water with a pinch of salt in a pot and heat it on the fire. The water has to be hot all the time while you are cooking risotto, so that the rice temperature does not drop when you add the water to it.
Put the finely chopped onion and the 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil in a pot and let it cook on a slow fire, until the onion becomes soft and transparent. Add the rice, mix well and let it cook for 1 or 2 minutes, until it becomes translucent. Now pour in the white wine and let the alcohol burn off by cooking on a high flame. Then add enough hot water to cover the rice and turn the fire to medium-low. Keep cooking, occasionally stirring the rice and adding hot water little by little, until the rice is cooked. It is going to take approximately 18 to 20 minutes depending on the rice you are using.
While the rice is cooking, clean and roughly chop the zucchini flowers.
5 minutes before the rice is ready, add the chopped zucchini flowers and the pinch of saffron to it and mix well. Then continue cooking normally.
When the rice is ready, put the fire off and add the remaining extra virgin olive oil and Parmigiano Reggiano to it.
Mix very well, until the rice becomes creamy. Make sure that your risotto is moist (or, as we say, all’onda – which literally means wavy) and not sticky. You can do that by adding 1 or 2 extra tbsp of hot water if needed. Check for salt and season to your liking.
Serve in the Parmigiano Reggiano baskets and decorate with a zucchini flower.
TIP: Whenever you cook risotto, do not wash the rice before cooking. The starch is needed for the risotto to become creamy.
This recipe has been featured on Flavour Fiesta Magazine – Spring Issue 2012, make sure to check it out for great spring recipes and tips and to see some beautiful pictures! Here is a sneak peek!
Maureen @ OrgasmicChef says
holy cow, I’m in awe of this post! I’ve got the magazine open on my other monitor and keep going back and forth. This is so gorgeous! How supremely talented you are.
Gorgeous recipe! I’ve always want to make a Parmigiano basket and you make it looks so easy. As always – your zucchini flower risotto looks and sounds delicious! Where do you find those beautiful flowers? Are you growing them? Going to have to save this recipe for next fall when I can get some blooms. Can’t even plant the seeds yet. Send me warm weather please! Congratulations on getting your recipe featured!!!!
Paolo - quatrofromaggio says
Just fabulous, Manu – such a great risotto and a wonderful presentation! I really love zucchini flowers, I wish I could find them more often here…
Nuts about food says
I have been meaning to make Parmesan cheese baskets forever now, and always forget to! They look so impressive. I love zucchini flowers. What a beautiful spring dish you created.
Anna @ the shady pine says
Great idea to use zuchinni flowers in the risotto. And the presentation is lovely in that cheesy basket.
This risotto looks incredible! I don’t think I would be able to work that much to make something so amazing.. 🙂
Jill Colonna says
Just heard about this gorgeous looking magazine over at Nami’s Just One Cookbook. What a fabulous recipe, Manu. Loving risotto with zucchini flowers, as never tried it. I’m a mad fan of parmesan crisps and the presentation here is stunning. Too cute with the ladybird and butterfly tomatoes. Very clever!
I can’t get over how beautiful this dish is! You are truly amazing 🙂
Kiri W. says
How beautiful! I love risotto, but with a zucchini flower – stunning and delicious. Well done!
oh my goodness, what an amazing meal! I fell in love with zucchini flowers last year, I have to try this.
Grandma Kat @ Easy Recipes Land says
This is a unique recipe that will be a new experience for me – that’s for sure.Thank you for publishing it and I look forward to giving it a try later this week.
Mi Vida en un Dulce says
Ohhhh…the risotto is more than perfect, ok, you are Italian, ok it doesn’t mean that all Italians know the secret of how to obtain this happy ending…yours look incredible.
And please…the butterfly and lady bug are to cute.
risotto looks wonderful delicous presentation
fati's recipes says
Hey, can we use normal grated Parmesan that we buy from the shops to do the baskets? Love this dish, it’s new to me, and I’d at least like to try the baskets! 🙂
Yes you sure can! As long as it is the thinly grated one (powder like) and not the stringy kind. You are cooking it, so the difference in taste won’t be that noticeable. 🙂 Let me know how they come out!!! 🙂
fati's recipes says
Sure, thanks for letting me know!
Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says
Your dish looks wonderful Manu and what a clever way to present the risotto! 😀
Beth Michelle says
Such a beautiful presentation!! The risotto sounds so wonderful. I love it with the zucchini flowers!!
Giulietta | Alterkitchen says
I love zucchini flowers!! And I love everything you can possibly serve in a Parmigiano shell 🙂
Dear Manu, Happy spring to you, or as we persians say happy Nowrouz!:-) This dish wonderfully represents the season. Love those zucchini flowers and the yummy risotto. What a perfect dish and you made even those cute cups for serving. Thanks for sharing this magnificent recipe and your beautiful pictures.
Happy Nowrouz to you too Visda! Thank you so much for your sweet comment! Hope you are settling down nicely in Austria!!! <3
J @ ... semplicemente j ... says
… divine … as always!
Spicie Foodie says
Congrats on the magazine feature. Your recipe looks great, as does this one. The cheese basket is so adorable, great presentation. Thanks for being a part of the YBR 🙂