Friday, 22 March 2013

Stirring It Up Again!

Risotto di Zucchine Gialle, Pisellini, Menta & Feta
Minty Risotto with Yellow Zucchini, Snow Peas & Feta Cheese

Photo: Minty Risotto with Yellow Zucchini, Snow Peas & Feta Cheese

There is something wonderful to stirring together a risotto... it is a calming, satisfying experience, seeing something grow in size and flavor before your very eyes, whilst you stir it gently to coax it into becoming rich smooth and delicious... and so much more than the simple handful of rice that you started out with!

I love risotto in almost every possible variation... a simple rosotto alla Milanese, a Sicilian risotto with beef broth, tomato sauce and peas... or even this combination that I thought up this evening- with zucchini, snow peas and mint and a hint of rich and tasty Feta cheese!

Zucchini and mint is a classic combination in Sicilian cuisine, so I thought of combining them to make a mild, smooth risotto this evening- with another ingredient that goes well with mint... snow peas! Sounded like a fun, tasty and just plain old good combination to me! And I think I may have been onto something... have a little fun reading and decide for yourself!

I used a batch of frozen vegetable broth I happened to have in the freezer to make my risotto this evening- but hey, canned broth, bouillon cube or powder are fine by me. I find it rather pretentious of some people that always "insist" on making their broth and stock fresh, almost as ludicrous as those that insist that only freshly made pasta is any good. Back in the real world, we simply do not always have the time to boil up a broth for an hour or more in order to make one serving of risotto! End of rant and on with the show!

I started off my risotto by sautéing some finely chopped onion and garlic in a little olive oil. As soon as the onion became translucent, I added the rice- in this case a Vialone nano, but of course a regular Arborio is the classic. Once the rice was coated and shiny, I added a ladle full of hot broth and began to stir it in... you know the method I'm sure... adding broth and stirring until it becomes absorbed by the rice and repeating over and over until the rice is cooked... it's very easy to make- it just takes a little patience... which is a fair trade for a great meal!

After about 20 minutes of cooking, the rice was getting close and the rest of the ingredients could be added. For one portion of risotto I added one half of a yellow zucchini and 1 handful of snow peas... the zucchini grated and the snow peas finely chopped. I also added a little handful of finely chopped mint and parsley. Once these were stirred-in, of course I needed to add a couple of ladles more broth, as the contents of my saucepan had doubled in volume! But the zucchini soon softens up and the peas are quickly done- this is where the fun really begins! I seasoned with a tiny bit of salt (the broth was of course already salted and the Feta cheese has yet to be added), pepper, grated nutmeg and a hint of lemon juice.  Next, I added just a small drizzle more olive oil and a small handful of crumbled feta cheese, which I stirred in and swooned when everything became rich, creamy and delicious... and you will too!

Suddenly, as if by magic, lots of rich, complex flavor was in my gently bubbling little saucepan- and a wonderful dish of fun comfort-food was ready to be served! With just a nice sprinkle of coarsely ground pepper, I was happy to dig-in and indulge- it didn't need anything more with all of that goodness already inside! Try it and see! Buon apetito!

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