Lemon, Caper, & Zucchini Risotto

November 8, 2010 § 3 Comments

Risotto gets a bad rap.  Not in terms of taste — I’m pretty sure everyone agrees that it’s absurdly delicious — but people seem to think it’s so difficult to make!  It’s not hard at all.  And it’s absolutely magical to watch the little grains of arborio rice soak up the broth and/or wine and turn into warm, creamy risotto.  All it takes is a willingness to baby your risotto a little bit; it needs attention, that’s it.

I wanted to make a risotto, but wasn’t sure what kind.  I found a recipe for zucchini risotto, and decided that that was a great idea in principle, but needed a little kick.  Lemon juice gave it a great freshness, and I decided to take a chance and throw in some capers for a little salty bite.  Capers are close enough to olives (which I positively hate) that I can’t love them, but far enough away that I can have them in moderation, and in this risotto they worked beautifully.

So, enough suspense!  On to the recipe.

Lemon, Caper, and Zucchini Risotto
(very loosely based on this recipe)
7 c vegetable or chicken stock (I used chicken because it was easier to find, but if you’re vegetarian, go right ahead and use veggie stock; it won’t make a difference)
1/2 c vermouth or dry white wine (not necessary, but it does add another level of flavor that is really awesome!)
1 tbsp butter or oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 c Arborio rice
1 medium zucchini, sliced
2 tbsp capers
Juice of 1/2 lemon (feel free to use more to your tastes)
5 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional – you can make this vegan by omitting the cheese and it’s still delicious)

the makings of awesome

Bring the vegetable/chicken stock to a boil, and then reduce heat enough to just keep the stock gently simmering.

In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat.  Stir in your onion and sauté it for a few minutes until it starts softening.  Add the rice.

making magic

This is where many people who’ve never made risotto before start getting confused.  “But there’s no water!  How do you cook rice with no water?!”  I had the same reaction the first time I made it, but trust me, this is what you want to do.

Continue to cook the rice and onions for about 2 minutes.  Now is when you’ll start needing to pay close attention to your risotto.  Add about a cup of your hot stock, and stir until it’s absorbed.  At this point, add the vermouth or wine and stir until that’s absorbed.  You want to be stirring pretty much constantly — the risotto can definitely handle a break in stirring for a little bit if you need to grab something, check the recipe, etc., but you should do your best to keep stirring it as consistently as you can.

getting there!

Continue to add stock about 1/2 cup at a time, still stirring pretty constantly.  You’ll have to use your judgment to determine when to stop here; you’ll almost never need the full 7 cups.  The ideal consistency is for your risotto to be nice and creamy, but to be a little bit al dente.  After you’ve added maybe 3 cups or so, start tasting with some regularity to make sure that you’re not overcooking it.

When you’re almost finished, stir in the zucchini and capers.  Continue to add the stock as needed (you shouldn’t need much more after this point, maybe just 1/2 to 1 cup), and keep stirring!

mix-ins

Stir in the lemon juice and Parmesan cheese just before serving.

risotto, so delicious

Enjoy!

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