Risotto with Zucchini and Saffron

bacon zucchini & baconstovetop onionsbrodo zucchini & bacon

Zucchini, zucchini, zucchini. They are everywhere and abundant, unfortunately I am having a hard time finding their flowers again, they must greenhouse them in Italy since they were so easy to find everywhere. Honestly, I’m kind of tired of zucchini, I’m buying them from the farmers markets because they are in season and they are beautiful, but I’ve run out of ideas. riso

I’ve never particularly liked zucchini in risotto, but I didn’t want to make yet another pasta with zucchini, nor a frittata, or a savory pie. Weeknight one-pot meals are my standby, so I wasn’t planning on making a side dish to go with something else. I need some inspiration with the zucchini because they aren’t going away anytime soon.

zucchini & bacon in risotto risotto

My husband had the brilliant idea of sauteing the zucchini with some small pieces of bacon, taking out the moisture and giving them a crispiness that wouldn’t have been achieved by letting them cook in the risotto. Their flavor would have been a bit too bland that way, and bland wasn’t what I was looking for. He also recommended throwing in some saffron, after his three years in Milano, the man loves his saffron.


Risotto with Zucchini and Saffron

  • 1 cup of Carnaroli or Arborio rice (Italians measure rice by demitasse cups, 1 cup for each person and one for the pot)
  • 2 large zucchini, cut into quarters lenghtwise and sliced
  • 3 slabs of bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 2 packets of saffron powder or a few threads of saffron
  • ½ an onion, chopped finely
  • 5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup of dry white wine
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • a few sprigs of flat-leaf parsley
  • salt to taste

risotto parsley butter risotto

Heat the bacon in a wide saucepan over medium heat. When the bacon starts to sizzle add slices of zucchini. Turn the heat up and sauté zucchini over high heat for about five minutes or until they start to brown, lower heat to a medium flame. You need to make sure to turn the zucchini frequently so that they don’t burn. When the zucchini is done, turn off the heat. (I did not use any additional fat to sauté the zucchini, the fat from the bacon was enough and I didn’t want to use oil to keep with the integrity of a true risotto which only calls for butter.)

In the meantime chop the onion into fine pieces and bring the broth to a simmer. Heat a large stovetop casserole pan over medium-high heat and melt 1 tbsp of the butter at the bottom of the pan. When the butter is melted add onion and sauté until the onion is translucent. Add rice and coat it in the butter, toasting it a bit. When the rice becomes opaque, after about 1 minute, add the wine to the pan, enough to cover the rice, stir frequently.

When the rice has absorbed the wine, add a ladleful of broth to the pan and continue stirring. Continue adding the broth as the rice absorbs it, you want it to almost dry out before adding the broth each time. At the fourth ladle of broth, add the zucchini and bacon mix. Continue stirring and adding broth. Add the saffron powder or threads to the risotto towards the end of its cooking.

When the rice is finished it should be al dente and all of the liquid should be absorbed. Remove from heat and toss in the chopped parsley and the last tbsp of butter. Serve immediately.


~ by italicious on August 15, 2009.

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