zucchini risotto


zucchini risotto

It is no secret that I want to be a writer.  Or rather, that I am a writer.  I am always writing out little essays or stories.  I wrote a few months ago about what I am learning about being a writer, about how I am taking out a notebook and sitting down as often as I can to write, and about how its like going back to basics, to put a pen to paper and be free to say whatever.

I used to write at the computer a lot more, but those internet distractions always sucked me in an one point or another, when my confidence for putting words on a page was particularly low.
So now I have my notebook mostly.  There are no distractions, only the sound of the scratching of the pen and my thoughts sometimes moving faster than I can get them out.  My lofty goal is to sit down every day and write at least one page, which is big scrawling handwriting and skipped lines for space (so it’s all legible later when I want to type it up), and so it is not terribly intimidating.  Some days this happens, other days, when I have worked all day and need to cook dinner and want to write something here and haven’t worked out all week (so it really needs to happen), the writing takes a back seat.  And on those days, I think that’s okay.zucchini
risotto in the making
But on the days when I do pick up my notebook and start spelling out words on the page and let go of any pressure (there is so much less pressure with a notebook than with a computer), I often find that I can feel the magic.  I often find that I can get out of the way of the story and write without concern.  And it is so much better than trying to force it to come together.  I’ve been writing things as they’ve come to me, stopping mid scene to start another one because it jumps into my head vividly.  And the one page I began with, my quota for that day, often becomes three or four.  I’ve been telling myself it doesn’t matter what I write, as long as I write something.  And when I let it come out freely, I often find that that something is better than I had expected.zucchini risotto
It’s reminding me a lot this week of cooking without a recipe.  Three years ago I never thought it would be possible, but there are dishes I can make and taste and move along through without pressure, without making sure my measuring is right and my timing is perfect.  And when I get out of the way and let the recipe move along on its own as it needs to, knowing when to add more stock to my risotto without needing to look it up, pouring in more wine when I feel like it and adding the perfect amount of cheese without having to measure it, I feel free.  (But I’ll do my best to write it down for you).
zucchini risotto

Zucchini Risotto

We had a similar dish in Italy, and I loved the way the slight fresh taste of the zucchini permeated ever so slightly through the risotto.  This is also a great dish if zucchini isn’t particularly your thing, but you are trying to like it; the rice and cooked zucchini pair together in perfect creaminess.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes

Serves 4-6*

3 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large shallot, peeled and minced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
4 to 5 cups (low sodium) chicken stock, warmed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan

1. In a large saute pan or skillet, heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the zucchini and season with a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini are just beginning to get tender, about 5-6 minutes.  Remove the zucchini from the pan onto a plate and set aside.
2. Add 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil to the same pan.  Add the shallot with a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until the shallot is beginning to turn golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.  Then add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute, stirring frequently.
3. Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, about 3 minutes until the rice grains are turning a toasty light brown.
4. Add the wine, and cook, stirring constantly, until the wine has absorbed into the rice.
5. Start adding the chicken stock in batches.  Ladle just enough chicken stock into the pan to cover the rice and then cook, stirring constantly, until the rice has absorbed all of the chicken stock.  Then ladle more chicken stock in (every couple of times you add chicken stock, add a small pinch of salt and pepper as well).  Each time the rice absorbs the chicken stock, add more and let it cook while you stir gently, until the rice is done (you’ll know by tasting it).  It cooks for about 40 minutes.
6. When the rice is done, add 2 tablespoons butter and 2/3 cup Parmesan.  Stir the butter and the Parmesan into the pan vigorously while moving the pan back and forth.  This should make the rice even creamier.  Stir in the cooked zucchini and cook just until the zucchini has warmed back up.  Serve hot.

*4 if you serve it as a main dish. 6ish if you serve it as a side.

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