Sunday, April 20, 2014

Risotto with Zucchini Flowers

We have a few Zucchini plants in the garden. Zucchini and other squash are quite powerful plants. The rule is, “A few plants, lots of squash.” There is a way to keep the production in a relatively normal zone. When the male flowers blossom, eliminate about half of them. Yesterday we spent some time doing just that. Zucchini flowers are considered a delicacy in Italy. They are deep fried, stuffed, placed on pizza, or used as an ingredient in risotto. The flowers are highly desired but difficult to find because the flower begins to wilt as soon as it is picked thus cannot withstand normal channels of retail distribution.

Allowing the flowers to simply wilt on the ground would have been a sin. Raffaella pulled the recipe for a risotto from her hat of tricks and the flowers made their way into the kitchen. One of our normal cooking buddies, a truly great chef with a flair for French and Cajun recipes, offered to prepare grilled Halibut. He had never tried the Zucchini flowers but once he understood the nature of the dish, he decided that the fish should be as delicate as the risotto. The Halibut was prepared with salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon slices finished off with fresh chopped Italian Parsley. It was the perfect mix.

Our choice for wine was a light Pinot Grigio. Other great solutions would be Vernaccia, Soave, Gavi, Gaia & Rey, and Tocai Friulano.


30 Zucchini or Zucca flowers
10 oz. (300 g) Arborio Rice
4 tbsp Butter
1 tbsp Butter
15 g powdered Saffron
1 small Zucchini 3-4 inches long
1 Medium Onion diced
1 cup Dry White Wine
1 quart Vegetable Broth
1 oz. (30 g) Parmesan Cheese
Salt and pepper to taste


Bring the broth to a boil and turn the heat to minimum.

The flowers must be fresh. Delicately open the flowers and remove the pistols with a pair of scissors. Rinse the flower under cold water and let them drain on paper towels. Set the flowers aside.

Melt 4 tbsp butter in a heavy pot over medium high heat. Add the diced onion to the pot and sweat the onions until transparent.

Add the rice. Stir the rice into the butter and onions coating the rice for about 1 minute. Separate the petals of the flowers delicately. Add the flowers and stir them together with the rice.

Pour the wine into the rice and stir quickly for 1 minute. Add 1 ladle of broth. When the broth begins to boil check the timer. It will now take 22 minutes to cook the rice. As the broth evaporates add another ladle of broth. Stir constantly the rice. Continue until the 17 minutes has passed.

Put the saffron and cook everything for an additional 5 minutes. Turn off the heat. Stir in the remaining 1 tbsp of butter and the Parmesan cheese. Let rice sit for 1 minute (mantecare). Serve hot in individual plates.


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