A few weeks ago, I went to the markets and managed to find some good deals. I bought a whole tray of artichokes for less than half the price they are usually sold at the grocery store and I was also lucky enough to find zucchini flowers. Zucchini flowers are very common in Italy and you can find them anywhere. But here in Sydney, they are not so easy to come by. You do find them more regularly in Leichhardt, which is sort of a local Little Italy, but other than there, they are a rarity. My kids love zucchini flowers, especially my eldest daughter, so she was really happy when we got them. I fried the majority of them, to please my family, but I saved some for a risotto. These also came with the little zucchini attached. The zucchini were so tender, fresh and sweet that they were a real delight to cook with and, obviously, to eat! So, I made a risotto using both the zucchini and their flowers and I also added some stracchino cheese, for extra creaminess. It was delicious! Buon appetito!
- 320 gms – 11.3 oz. rice (Arborio, Carnaroli or Vialone nano)
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- ½ onion, finely chopped
- 50 ml – 1.7 oz. white wine
- 200 gms – 7 oz. stracchino cheese
- 15 zucchini flowers with the attached zucchini
- 1 lt – 33.8 oz. salty water or vegetable stock
- 4 tbsp Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated
- 30 gms – 2 tbsp butter
- Salt to taste
- Start by putting the stock in a pot and heat it on the fire. The stock has to be hot all the time while you are cooking risotto, so that the rice temperature does not drop when you add the stock to it.
- Cut the zucchini in 2.5 cm – 1 inch pieces. Halve the flowers and keep them aside.
- 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 chopped zucchini and mix well.
- 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 stock 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.
- minutes before the rice is cooked, add the halved zucchini flowers. Mix well.
- When the rice is ready, put the fire off and add the butter, grated Parmigiano Reggiano and the stracchino 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 stock if needed. Check for salt and season to your liking.
- Serve immediately.