The Samovar

Courgette risotto
July 14, 2007, 9:03 pm
Filed under: Consumption, Cooking, Food, Recipes

I asked for suggestions on courgette risotto a while ago, and tonight I finally got round to making it – delicious!


In the end, I stuck to the basic plan I already made, cut off the skins, put the flesh in the risotto early so that it partially dissolves, and cook the chopped skins separately. I cooked the skins until they were quite brown although I didn’t bother to get out my griddle pan in the end. I also toasted some pinenuts, and put in some chopped herbs (oregano and parsley) and a tiny squeeze of lemon. I served it with some homemade pesto.


I think there are a few things I would do differently if I was doing it again, so here is my recommended recipe (not quite how I did it):

Ingredients (for 2)

  • 2 courgettes, skins taken off and roughly chopped, flesh finely chopped (I only roughly chopped it, and I think it would have been better done fine)
  • Handful of pinenuts, toasted
  • Herbs, chopped (some combination of parsley, oregano, marjoram, basil, mint probably)
  • Lemon juice to taste (probably about 1/3 of a lemon’s worth)
  • Pesto (optional, it was quite nice but fine without)
  • Onion, risotto rice, parmesan, stock, wine, butter, oil, salt, pepper

Soften onions in olive oil, add risotto rice and toast for a minute or so. Pour in some wine or dry vermouth and boil until dry. Put in the finely chopped courgette flesh, some stock and half the herbs. Cook as a normal risotto.

Meanwhile, saute the courgette skins in butter on a high heat so they soften a bit (but not mushy) and brown. Add the lemon juice and herbs to this. Toast the pinenuts.

When the risotto is ready, stir in the pinenuts, parmesan, butter, salt and pepper and test for seasoning. Finally, lightly fold in the skins, herbs and lemon mixture.

Serve with the pesto on the side.


You know, I’ve never made a risotto before. This one looks delicious. Is there one you’d especially recommend for the ‘first time’?

Comment by azahar

You’ve never made a risotto before!?


Well, first things first – use my basic risotto recipe from h2g2. If you have good peas and asparagus at the moment, do either pea or asparagus or both following the recipe on that page. If you don’t (I don’t know what the spanish vegetable seasons are), but you’d like to do a pea one, this pea risotto recipe is fantastic made with frozen peas – I often make it. (But don’t try the cauliflower one, it doesn’t really work.)

Mushroom risotto is another favourite of mine, but I think it’s a little more difficult to get it just right, so perhaps not the best one to start with unless you particularly love mushrooms. The method I’m happy with now after many false starts is:

Pour almost boiling water over dried porcini or cep mushrooms and leave for 20 mins. Now strain the liquid through kitchen paper (to remove the grit), and use this as well as the stock in cooking the basic risotto. Make sure to squeeze out the juices from the reconstituted mushrooms. Most people now use these reconstituted mushrooms in the risotto itself, but I find that they don’t have much flavour so I just use the liquid in the risotto and separately saute some field mushrooms in butter and oil, and possibly garlic. Parsley is quite nice too. Stir this into the risotto at the end, making sure to include all the mushroom brown buttery oily goodness.

Another favourite of mine is red wine risotto, although it’s not to everyone’s tastes so again you might not consider doing it as your first one. It’s extremely strong tasting and rich.

Another good option: squash/pumpkin (either peel, seed and slice them and put them in at the same time as the rice, or roast them in the oven and stir the flesh in at the end).

And of course, I can highly recommend the courgette one too.

The key things are:

It should be slightly drier than paella at the end, and the rice should be al dente (no crunch but still firm). The picture above is a good guide to this I think.

If you don’t have strongly flavoured things in it, you need a very good stock. Preferably a homemade chicken stock.

Maximum yumminess is obtained if you stir in a generous (and I do mean generous) amount of butter and parmesan at the end.

Hope it works out if you decide to go for it! 🙂

Comment by Dan | thesamovar

Really a reply to your previous courgette-related posting…

One of my favourite ways with courgettes is to soften a little onion in olive oil (plus salt), add some coarsely-chopped courgettes, cover, cook v. gently for about an hour until it all goes mush, add some petits pois and serve as a sauce with linguine and parmesan. It also works with leeks…which is what I’m planning for tonight.

Last night I made great bruschetta with a topping of canned borlotti beans, cooked very gently and for a long time in olive oil with a whole tomato, half a bulb of garlic, a sprig of thyme, a bayleaf, a whole tomato. When the beans are very soft, remove everythying solid except the beans, but squidge the garlic out of its skin and stir back in. Serve on top of oil-drizzled, toasted sourdough, topped with a few shavings of parmesan and flakes of crushed chilli.

Comment by Edward the Bonobo

It should be slightly drier than paella at the end…

Not really knowing paella very well…but is this true? Clasically, risotto should be served ondine, ie when you jiggle the plate, a wave should ripple through it.

Comment by Edward the Bonobo

Mmm, both of things sound very good – will try them.

I suspect I like my risotto a little drier than ondine (although I’m not exactly sure), but even that is I think drier than paella. My understanding of paella is that it’s served fairly wet, but maybe az can tell us?

Comment by Dan | thesamovar

Yes she can. There are different regional styles of paella that vary between being almost soupy to very dry. So ‘slightly drier than paella’ is kind of like saying ‘about as long as a piece of string’. 😉

I prefer drier paella myself.

Edward, when you make that courgette sauce do you peel them first?

Comment by azahar

Ah well that probably shouldn’t have come as a surprise. I bet the same is true of risotto actually. My cookbook says that “risi e bisi” (a particular sort of pea risotto) should be served almost as a soup.

My paella at least is served slightly wetter than my risotto. 🙂

Comment by Dan | thesamovar

Edward, when you make that courgette sauce do you peel them first?

No. I quite liked Dan’s innovation of treating the skin and flesh separately, but my intuition would be that cooking them together would give more of an earthy sweetness.

The italian concept of soup is interesting. Their ‘zuppa’ doesn’t quite correspond to our ‘soup’, tending tom be more of a solid dish – a stew. ‘Brodo’ is more ‘soup-like’ (cf broth).

The thing about an ondine risotto is that it acquires its wave-like properties through the addition of particles of butter. But then, everyone’s Nonna probably makes it differently, and we shouldn’t interfere with that. (Stop it with these puns – it Hertz).

One more risotto tip – dry vermouth instead of wine.

And have you tried making ‘winter risotto’ with barley instead of rice? I think it’s called orzalano. (Orzo is barley). It’s tasty and foolproof – less attention required with the stirring.

Tell you what, though…it would be dead classy if you topped a rissotto with a couple of battered courgette flowers.

Comment by Edward the Bonobo

Yeah but where do you ever find courgette flowers? I don’t think I’ve ever seen courgettes for sale with the flowers on.

Unfortunately, I seem to have a mild allergy to barley which makes it not particularly pleasant to eat (although not at all life threatening).

Comment by Dan | thesamovar

An allergy to barley!!! That would be intolerable…unless the allergens are removed by malting, fermentation and the addition of hops.

Yeah but where do you ever find courgette flowers?

Er…on a courgette plant? Plant a few seeds next year – a pot or growbag will do – and you’ll get all you need.

But that’s not what I was going to say. No. I was going to tell you that Sainsburys had a bottle of Ligurian olive oil reduced from £9.99 to £4.99. Even that’s more than I’d usually pay for 500ml of olive oil, but it’s well worth it. It’s maybe a little less rich and grassy than I’d normally like. It has a wonderful sunny yellow colour and is redolent of marzipan. I’ve been pouring it into a saucer, sprinkling it with salt and dipping bread in it.

Comment by Edward the Bonobo

Well, I don’t drink so that’s not a problem for me. I’ve not been tested or anything, so I don’t know that it’s barley, but I’ve noticed that the two times I’ve cooked a soup with lots of barley in it I’ve had this slightly unpleasant reaction to it.

I’m not really much of a grower of things, perhaps something to get in to at some future date when I have a more stable abode.

Thanks for the olive oil tip. I tend to spend rather a large amount of money on good olive oil (single estate, cold pressed, and all that), so a decent one at a lower price would be quite nice.

Comment by Dan | thesamovar

I’m allergic to leather, myself. Whenever I fall asleep with my shoes on, I always wake up with a terrible headache.

Comment by Edward the Bonobo


Comment by Dan | thesamovar


Comment by azahar

There’s fresh Pie:

Comment by Edward the Bonobo

Ah, thanks for the recipe Ed – will try it soon.

Comment by Dan | thesamovar

may i have permission to use one of your images for my gcse exam as i’m a high school student currently taking my exams.

Comment by chris siddons

The courgette risotto pictures above? Sure! Go for it. Good luck with the exams.

Comment by Dan | thesamovar

Hi, I just found your site and it is stunning. I hope you dont mind I have tried your recipe (spectacular by the way), and I have copied it to my blog with a link to this page. If you feel it shouldnt be there, please let me know to the email I left here and I will remove it. You can also use my recipes too if you like them provided you include a link to my site. Thanks.
Best regards Koikille.

Comment by Koikille

Glad you liked the recipe! Copying it to your blog with a link is great. 🙂 I see you put some nutmeg in – was that good?

Comment by Dan | thesamovar

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