We are still seeing zucchini blossoms popping up at the markets, though these days the bounty is starting to run thin. When I found these a few weeks ago I couldn’t resist, they were so beautiful and fresh, though knowing what to do with them is always a problem. Weeknight meals tend to be delicious, but quick, no stuffed flowers or anything fried, but that goes for most nights of the week. I found some lovely calamari at the market the same day and decided that since I had some fish stock in the freezer and our evening temperatures are starting to decline that it was due time for a risotto.
A wise choice, this was delicious, so delicate and since the flowers were added to the rice at the end of the cooking, they were still a little crunchy. I also added toasted pine nuts, which made the texture of this risotto dynamic, sometimes a tough sell, risotto tends to have a blanket texture, no surprises. I like surprises sometimes, especially when I am experimenting in the kitchen. The dynamicism of the risotto was also enhanced by the quality of the rice that we used, a fancy purchase from Eataly in Genova, and well worth it. The quality of your ingredients always matters.
Risotto with Calamari and Zucchini Blossoms
- 1 cup of Carnaroli or Arborio rice (Italians measure rice by demitasse cups, 1 cup for each person and one for the pot)
- ½ an onion, chopped finely
- 1 lb of fresh calamari, cleaned
- 8-10 zucchini flowers, stems removed and rinsed well
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- 5 cups fish or vegetable stock
- 1 cup of dry white wine
- 3 tbsp butter, divided
- a few sprigs of flat-leaf parsley, minced
- salt to taste
Rinse the calamari and cut into strips, separating the tentacles from the body.
Heat 1 tbsp of the butter in a medium pot over medium heat and add the calamari, stir to saute and let the calamari simmer for about 20 minutes or until they have released their juices and have become a little bit more tender, they will continue cooking in the rice.
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 butter at the bottom of the pan. When the butter is melted add the onion and sauté until it is translucent. Add the 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, stirring frequently.
When the rice has absorbed the wine, add the calamari with the liquid that it has released 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.
Toast the pine nuts in a skillet until browned, careful not to burn them.
Right before the rice is al dente add the zucchini flowers and stir into the rice for them to wilt.
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 pine nuts, a tab of butter and the parsley. Serve immediately.
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