A creamy, comforting bowl of risotto can be yours for the eating even on a weeknight. Add grated zucchini for a healthy helping of summer vegetables; chop some fresh, fragrant basil; and, of course, throw in a few handfuls of Parmesan cheese and you have a delicious vegetarian dinner to enjoy. Yes, there's some stirring involved, but pour yourself a glass of wine and put on a podcast or some music, and let the repetition be a relaxing meditation on the deliciousness to come.
This risotto is a great way to use up that bumper crop of summer squash you'll inevitably acquire. Just grate it on a box grater while the rice is cooking — it's much faster and easier than dicing it all up instead. Have a mix of green and yellow squash? Use both in here and your risotto will have a pretty mix of colors. The summer squash goes in at the end since it cooks so quickly, so get your rice started and simmering before you start grating if you want to be efficient. And keep that grater out to use on the Parmesan!
I usually like to turn leftover risotto into crunchy arancini (fried risotto balls), but unfortunately, this risotto is too wet due to the high moisture content in summer squash and doesn't stick together much even when cold. Save it for a hearty lunch instead!
Summer Squash Risotto
2 quarts (8 cups) low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
Freshly ground white or black pepper
2 cups Arborio or Carnaroli rice
1 cup dry white wine
1 pound zucchini or summer squash, or combination
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
Parmesan cheese shavings, as garnish (optional)
Place the broth in a medium saucepan over low heat and keep it at a very low simmer.
Heat the oil in a large, wide pot or Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and a large pinch each of salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and toast, stirring occasionally, until the kernels start to make a crackling sound, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the wine and simmer, stirring often, until completely absorbed, 2 to 4 minutes.
Pour a ladleful of the simmering broth over the rice. Let simmer, stirring frequently, until the rice absorbs the liquid. Continue adding broth a ladleful at a time, stirring and letting it absorb, until the rice is al dente, about 20 to 30 minutes (you might not use up all of the broth). Meanwhile, grate the zucchini or summer squash on the large holes of a box grater; set aside.
When the rice is almost ready (2 to 3 minutes before), stir in the summer squash and continue cooking. When the rice is al dente, remove from heat and stir in the grated Parmesan and basil. Taste and season with more salt and pepper as needed. Serve immediately, topped with Parmesan shavings if using.
- Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.