Summer risotto

I associate risotto with summer, even though it is the kind of hot, cooked, starchy, stodgy dish that flies best in winter. Maybe it’s because of its similarity to risi e bisi, the Venetian springtime favorite… maybe because it’s so good with peppers or zucchini or other summer garden vegetables… and certainly in part because last summer when I first met Sparks’ friends Jonathan and Laura, risotto was always on Laura’s menu.


I have a generic formula for risotto, and make it into any number of different dishes by adding different things to it. A couple of cups of shredded zucchini–a quart of sliced mushrooms–a cup of peas–a cup of pumpkin puree–cream and lemon zest–roasted and pureed red peppers–the possibilities of risotto are endless. You can even cook shrimp or other seafood into it, to make it into a well-rounded meal. Here’s my formula:

On a back burner, heat up 6 cups of water with two chicken bouillon cubes.

Finely dice one onion. Put a tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying or sautee pan, and add the diced onion and one cup of either arborio (traditional) or sushi (emergency subsitute) rice. Stir to get everything coated in oil and to partially cook the onion. If you are using a raw vegetable (as opposed to a cooked puree, or lemon zest and cream), add it to the pan at this point.

Now, add two big soup ladles of bouillon to the pan. Stir a little to distribute things evenly, and either stand over it stirring (as I did when I was a risotto newbie) or boldly walk away for a few minutes while the liquid absorbs.

Repeat this process until the rice is no longer chalky in the center. I usually start to taste the rice after the third round of bouillon, to see how it’s coming along.

When the rice is cooked, add from one to three tablespoons of butter and about half a cup of shredded parmesan or romano cheese and stir. If you are using a cooked vegetable puree or lemon zest and cream, add it at this point. Salt to taste, and pepper to taste (I like risotto heavily peppered, to balance the starchy creaminess). Enjoy!


Mmm–zucchini risotto with pulled pork barbecue and okra pickles. Yes please.

8 thoughts on “Summer risotto

  1. Um – YUM! That looks delicious! You wouldn’t happen to have the recipe for the pulled pork would you? It’s making my stomache growl!

  2. Kat, I agree with you that risotto is a summer dish and I make mine basically the same way you do, but! it gets even better if you substitute a part of the bullion with dry white wine. // Greetings from Russia. Have a lovely weekend! šŸ™‚

  3. Um, what? Pretty sure I was going to make risotto for dinner! Just simple with fresh tomatoes and basil and some shredded cheese.

    I think it’s summery because it’s so versatile in terms of adding summer vegetables to it.

    P.S. Your recipe is better than the ones I’ve found. I’ll have to try it out!

  4. Hi Keri, thanks for stopping by my blog. The recipies for smoked pork and for the barbecue sauce on it were both published sometime in June–shouldn’t take long to sift through the archive for them. Enjoy!

  5. And your twitters make me wonder if I could have cleaned the house and finished a book, instead. *sigh*

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