Before our trip to Italy I heavily researched the restaurants that I was going to eat at and the food that I was going to order. I dreamed about ricotta filled raviolis and pear filled pasta, drooled at the thought of thin Roman pizza and thick bready soups. But the dish that finally ended up stealing my heart was the simple but sinfully comforting Risotto. Whether it was the light leek Risotto in Florence, the tangy radicchio Risotto in Roma Sparita, or the simple peas Risotto in La Pigna(near the Pantheon), I couldn’t get enough of it . And I came back from Italy with a stomachful of longing. [The fact that I just can not bring myself to spell Risotto with a small ‘r’, is probably evidence of my devotion].
And then of course as it usually happens, I decided I would have to find a good recipe and make this myself. And so, with the help of dependable google, I found this book simply titled ‘Risotto‘. Which I promptly borrowed from the local library. Based on the ingredients in my pantry, I decided to make a Zucchini Risotto. The original recipe calls for parsely but since I didn’t have any, I used sage. Sage tastes a lot like the thirtham/holy water that is distributed in temples and it provided a very interesting taste to the Risotto. However, S didn’t really think so. Therefore, I pronounce sage an optional ingredient.
Day 5: Zucchini Risotto, with or without Sage
I followed the recipe in the book pretty closely.
This is what I used:
2 medium sized zucchini
around 4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic-minced
5 cups of vegetable broth
1/2 cup dry white wine (i used an inexpensive Pinot Grigio from Trader Joe’s)
1.5 cups of Arborio rice
1/3 cups of minced red onion (though usually yellow onion is used)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese
7-8 sage leaves- chopped
The main principle of making a good risotto seems to be the introduction of broth into the cooking rice, in small quantities such that the rice and broth are more or less at the same temperature.
This is what I did:
I cut the zucchini into inch long strips and sauteed them in 1 tablespoon of oil, along with the garlic. I cooked them until they were tender and set them aside. Then I measured out a little more than 5 cups of broth into a saucepan and started to heat it while continuing with the further steps.
I heated 3 tbsps of the olive oil in a non-stick skillet and sauted the chopped onion till the pieces started to become soft and transparent. Then I added the rice (without pre-washing it, to retain all its starchiness) and stirred it with a wooden spoon making sure that all the grains were coated with the olive oil. At this point I added the wine, stirring all the while till the wine was completely absorbed. The smell at this stage sent me into raptures, as it was reminiscent of the smells of the Risottos I had eaten. If I had to bottle the essence of a risotto, this would be it.
Once the wine was absorbed, I added half a cup of simmering broth every 2 minutes (the broth has to be continuously on low-medium heat) , waiting till the broth was almost completely absorbed before the next addition. I also added a little more than a pinch of salt to the broth (but this step entirely depends on how salty the broth is to begin with). After around 10 minutes, I added the zucchini/garlic mixture to the rice. I stirred the mixture at regular intervals to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the skillet.
The addition of broth continued for around 18-20 minutes. As suggested in the original recipe, I reserved 1/4 cup of broth for the end. Once the rice was tender, I added the reserved broth, then switched off the heat and vigorously stirred in the cheese and the chopped sage leaves.
Verdict: I absolutely loved the risotto!! I hadn’t expected it to turn out so well and I think almost all of the credit is due to the wonderful instructions provided in the book. We had some Risotto left over the next day, and as the texture was not as creamy as the day before, I made them into balls and ate them for breakfast.
The risotto seems like a cross between a pulao and khichdi and is creamy and comforting and altogether satisfying. I can’t wait to try more recipes from this book.