Zucchini Risotto

If you have an overabundance of zucchini from your garden right now, this recipe is for you. It’s easy, healthy, and delicious. Plus, it helps use up your zucchini in a creative way.

Risotto, and polenta as well, are two dishes that I love to play with. Purists of Italian cuisine wouldn’t appreciate my culinary playtime, changing up recipes just for fun. But if you think of it, risotto is simply rice. Think of it as a vehicle, into which you can load lots of different flavors and ingredients.

Take vegetables, for example. You can add grated carrots to risotto, or even use carrot juice. You can add fresh tomatoes, or a little tomato paste. Sweet potato and pumpkin certainly work, as do roasted red bell peppers. Maybe I wouldn’t try a risotto with cucumbers….

If you would like a tutorial on making risotto, check out my Thai-inspired risotto. But even if you’ve never made a risotto before – trust me. It’s easy. I’ve even taught little kids to make them.

So the following recipe is more of a guide for you to make a fabulous zucchini risotto, using the ingredients you choose. Enjoy!

Zucchini Risotto

Butter or oil (I chose about 3 tablespoons butter)
Some kind of aromatic (I chose 1/4 finely chopped yellow onion)
Risotto rice (I chose arborio, about 1 1/4 cups)
White wine, about 1/3 cup*
1 medium zucchini, grated
Chicken broth, approximately 2 1/2 cups
1/2 teaspoon salt
Grated cheese (I chose romano)

Have all of your ingredients handy, and be prepared to devote most all of your attention to the pot on the stove. That’s the only pre-requisite for making risotto.

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Begin by melting the butter in a saucepan or risotto pan. I let my butter brown a little because I love that extra flavor. Add the onion and cook them for a few minutes, turning down the heat a little if necessary.

Add the rice to the butter-onion mixture and stir it well for about 1 minute. All of the grains of rice should be coated with the butter and look shiny. If they don’t, you haven’t started with a sufficient amount of butter or oil. This step is the most critical in making a successful risotto.

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At this point, add the wine in one or two batches, stirring until it’s absorbed by the rice. If you prefer, you can use solely chicken broth instead.

I just noticed that this pinot blanc, from the Trimbach winery, is made in Ribeauvill√© . I’ve actually been there, and it’s a gorgeous little town. Today I just saw on Facebook that it’s Hubert Keller’s home town.

Once you’ve used the wine, add the zucchini and stir well. Then gradually add chicken broth, a little at a time. Just stir until the rice absorbs the liquid, then add a little more liquid. Repeat. Also at some point add the salt.

The rice will get thicker as time goes on. The total risotto-making process takes about 30 minutes.

Towards the end, which you will be able to predict is close because the rice is much slower to absorb liquid, you can add cheese. Alternatively, wait and serve the cheese at the table.

Taste. Then serve.

Some people add cream instead of some of the broth, and sometimes also add a little more butter, and both are good options.

Today I served the zucchini risotto as a side dish, along side paprika-crusted pork tenderloin, but the risotto would satisfy vegetarians as well.

For seasoning, there are so many choices. I could have used fresh basil, but I opted for a little sprinkling of fresh thyme. I find that white pepper goes really well in vegetable risottos. Use what you like.

* You don’t have to include wine with the liquid in a risotto recipe. Just use more of your choice of liquid, like chicken broth. When I taught kids to make risotto, we didn’t include wine, just so you know!

note: Typically when you use zucchini in a recipe, there is a necessary procedure to attend to in order to rid the zucchini or extra water. However, this isn’t a necessary step in a risotto, since the zucchini’s liquid plays a role along with the wine and chicken broth. Another reason why this is such an easy recipe!!!

By Published On: August 18th, 201436 Comments

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!

36 Comments

  1. thesinglegourmetandtraveller August 18, 2014 at 8:15 AM - Reply

    Lovely risotto recipe, Mimi! And courgettes (zucchini) are so gorgeous I’m not sure you can have too many of them :) But it’s always great to have more ideas of how to use them.

    • chef mimi August 18, 2014 at 8:53 AM - Reply

      Thank you Kay! It was a really good risotto!

  2. thebestdressup August 18, 2014 at 9:07 AM - Reply

    ciao! i am inspired…yum.
    thebestdressup

  3. Bluejellybeans August 18, 2014 at 10:15 AM - Reply

    Delicious! :)

  4. StefanGourmet August 18, 2014 at 1:38 PM - Reply

    Great risotto recipe, Mimi! I’ve never made zucchini risotto before and I like the idea to add it grated. It may be nice to prepare part of the zucchini differently and add it at the end as garnish/additional texture.

    • chef mimi August 18, 2014 at 2:20 PM - Reply

      oooohh, like little cubes of deep fried zucchini? Great idea!!!

  5. ladyredspecs August 18, 2014 at 5:35 PM - Reply

    Zucchini risotto is a favourite in our house too. I sometimes add flaked steamed salmon and a little dill at the end for a complete meal. The flavours are so gentle and complementary. I was trying to decide what to prepare for dinner tonight, thanks for the inspiration!

  6. Butter, Basil and Breadcrumbs August 18, 2014 at 5:55 PM - Reply

    I am totally making this, Mimi. A lovely meal in itself… you come up with the best ideas. And I have so many zucchini right now…I have no idea what to do with all of them! <3 Love this.

    • chef mimi August 19, 2014 at 8:10 AM - Reply

      Me, too. Not so good on the tomatoes this summer, but the zucchinis are doing great. No complaints here!!!

  7. eliotthecat August 19, 2014 at 2:58 AM - Reply

    Risotto sounds so good right now and I am definitely checking out that Thai inspired recipe.

  8. Conor Bofin August 19, 2014 at 4:28 AM - Reply

    Lovely Mimi. It must taste so fresh.

  9. gemlotus August 19, 2014 at 4:39 AM - Reply

    I’ll try this! Thanks! I only make Squash and mushroom Risotto! :)

  10. cookingwithauntjuju.com August 19, 2014 at 3:54 PM - Reply

    I love risottos as you can add so many different ingredients to your taste whether it is veggies or cheese. Great way to use up some zucchini instead of making bread :)

  11. Choc Chip Uru August 19, 2014 at 4:54 PM - Reply

    What a beautiful, warming risotto :D

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

  12. sallybr August 20, 2014 at 7:27 AM - Reply

    It is amazing that I’ve never made zucchini risotto, such a great idea, perfect for this time of the year – I tend to cook zucchini at least one a week, so risotto should be in the rotation soon. Of course, “someone” will request some animal protein as a “side” – but I don’t mind that at all…..

    • chef mimi August 20, 2014 at 8:51 AM - Reply

      Me neither! I prefer side dishes to animal protein myself, although I won’t say no to a great steak…

  13. Phil @foodfrankly August 20, 2014 at 4:11 PM - Reply

    Love risotto served like this Mimi. Superb.

  14. Hannah (BitterSweet) August 20, 2014 at 7:52 PM - Reply

    Your risotto looks absolutely heavenly! I love zucchinis, so the fact that you really let their flavors shine in this simple formula sound perfect to me.

    • chef mimi August 21, 2014 at 8:35 AM - Reply

      I love flavors and spice, but you’re right – sometimes you just need to let natural flavors shine. Well said!

  15. dianeskitchentable August 21, 2014 at 7:23 PM - Reply

    Oh that’s a beautiful risotto. I never would have thought to add zucchini to a risotto but I love the idea. I’ll bet the taste is great but it also looks pretty. So tell me, when you were teaching kids to make risotto without wine….did you need a glass for yourself?

    • chef mimi August 21, 2014 at 7:56 PM - Reply

      I’m sure I did need a few glasses, because sometimes the sisters would act up, but the lessons were always too early in the day… And the kids could cook and tell! I honestly used to love it.

  16. saffronandhoney August 23, 2014 at 8:31 AM - Reply

    This looks so lovely & colorful, plus props for making risotto look extra-healthy ;)

  17. thebrookcook August 23, 2014 at 8:57 AM - Reply

    I just made corn risotto! :) Summer comfort food is the best! :)

  18. dinnerbysusan August 25, 2014 at 11:07 AM - Reply

    My favorite way to use up excess summer squash! (And a great way to sneak some vegetables to my boys!)

    • chef mimi August 26, 2014 at 9:15 AM - Reply

      Absolutely! You can always peel it so none of the green shows!

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