Take your risotto game to new heights with this Italian Zucchini Risotto featuring delicate squash blossoms. Indulge in this creamy, flavorful, and utterly delicious recipe! Perfect for any occasion. The step-by-step instructions will make you a risotto pro in no time.
And, if you’re looking for creative ways to use your abundance of zucchini, you’ll love these easy zucchini recipes!
You won’t believe how easy creating an authentic, creamy risotto with zucchini is.
You are probably thinking that there is a great secret to making it. I assure you there isn’t.
The process of making zucchini risotto begins with selecting high-quality ingredients.
Arborio rice, known for its high starch content, is crucial for achieving a velvety texture. Coupled with a flavorful vegetable broth, the rice progressively absorbs the liquid, releasing its starch and creating a creamy consistency synonymous with a well-crafted risotto.
With endless variations to this classic Italian rice dish, you can easily customize your zucchini risotto recipe to suit your taste preferences.
For this recipe, we’ll use zucchini, zucchini flowers and saffron to add a unique twist to the dish.
More reasons to love this recipe
Seasonal Sensation: Celebrate the abundance of fresh zucchini during the warm summer months. This recipe allows you to enjoy the season’s flavors while creating a delicious, home-cooked meal.
Squash Blossoms: The addition of delicate squash blossoms adds a touch of elegance and visual appeal to the risotto. These edible flowers bring a subtle floral note that enhances the flavor.
Versatile and Perfect for Any Occasion: Whether hosting a dinner party or simply craving a comforting meal, this zucchini risotto fits the bill. Enjoy it as a main course or a side dish.
- Zucchini: Use any variety of squash, such as summer squash and green zucchini.
- Zucchini flowers: Optional. Adds a delicate floral note and makes a beautiful garnish.
- Risotto rice: Arborio, Carnaroli, Vialone Nano, or Roma for the creamiest texture.
- Shallots: Provide a light and sweet flavor base.
- Olive oil: Regular or extra virgin, for sautéing and toasting the rice.
- White wine: Adds acidity and brightness to the risotto.
- Vegetable broth: Store-bought or homemade for cooking the rice and enhancing the flavor. My favorite commercial brand is Better than Bouillon. You can also use chicken broth.
- Butter: Adds richness and creaminess.
- Parmesan cheese: Traditional choice for nutty and salty flavors. Freshly grated is a must.
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper: Essential for proper seasoning.
- Saffron: Optional for a golden color and subtle floral flavor.
Let’s prep our recipe
Place 3-4 cups of vegetable broth in a small pot and bring to a low simmer. Keep it warm throughout the whole time we are making this creamy risotto.
While waiting for the broth to heat up, let’s prep the rest of the ingredients to make this wonderful Italian dish.
Prep the fresh zucchini: Properly rinse and dry 2 small to medium-sized zucchini. Chop into ¼-inch quarters by cutting off the ends and slicing them half lengthwise. Cut each half again. Line up the quarters. Cut across the zucchini at ¼-inch intervals. Leave the skin on.
Prep the garlic: Remove the papery skin of 2 garlic cloves and cut off the tips. Finely chop, grate, or use a garlic press. Feel free to use more (or less) according to your preference and the size of your cloves. Set aside.
Prep the shallot: Remove the outer layer and finely dice the shallot (1 medium).
Prep the zucchini flowers: Gently rinse the flowers under cold water to remove dirt. Then, separate the flowers from the stem by twisting them off or using a knife. Optionally, remove the pistil from the center. Pat dry with a paper towel and chop.
Once the vegetables are ready, let’s make this delicious risotto.
Sautéing the vegetables
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the shallots to the pan and sauté for about 5 minutes or until translucent. Stir frequently.
Then, stir in the sliced zucchini and sauté for approximately 5-7 minutes or until slightly golden.
Add the minced garlic and saute for another minute or until fragrant.
Cooking the risotto
Once the vegetables are ready, it’s time to begin cooking the rice.
Stir in 1 cup of Arborio rice, continuing to sauté, ensuring the rice is evenly coated.
With a risotto or wooden spoon, stir this rice mixture (frequently) for about 3-5 minutes. The rice edges should begin to turn translucent and begin to turn a light golden brown.
Add the white wine (½ cup) and constantly stir until almost all is absorbed. This should take 30-60 seconds.
Gradually add the warm vegetable broth to the pan, one ladle at a time, while stirring. Let the rice absorb each addition before adding more. This process is key to achieving the perfect al dente texture.
The entire cooking time should be around 16-20 minutes. While cooking, keep the risotto at a constant simmer and continue to stir, as this will help release the rice’s starch, giving the dish a creamy texture.
After around 18 minutes, taste the risotto to check for the desired tenderness, keeping in mind that it should be al dente.
Add the chopped zucchini flowers and 1-2 pinches of saffron.
Remove the dish from the heat. Wait 1-2 minutes for the risotto to cool slightly. Finish the dish by stirring in a ¼-cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and 1 tablespoon of butter.
Taste and adjust the seasoning for salt and pepper.
That’s it – your zucchini risotto is ready to serve and enjoy.
Zucchini risotto is a versatile dish that can easily be customized. To elevate the flavors and presentation of this dish, consider the following serving suggestions.
Adding fresh herbs can greatly enhance the taste of this risotto. Italian parsley or basil finely chopped and sprinkled on top can add a bright and aromatic touch. Oregano, either fresh or dried, can also be a wonderful addition, lending an earthy, Mediterranean flavor to the dish.
Incorporating cheese into zucchini risotto can add creaminess and depth. Some recommendations include the following:
- Grated cheese: Parmesan or Grana Padano are classic choices that melt well and impart a rich, savory taste.
- Gorgonzola: Add crumbled Gorgonzola to the risotto for a bold, tangy twist.
- Grated Pecorino: Another excellent option, Pecorino provides a somewhat sharper taste than Parmesan yet blends seamlessly with the other ingredients.
To create a visually appealing and flavorful dish, consider using these garnishes:
- Chives: Finely chopped chives add a delicate onion flavor and a pop of color.
- Zucchini blossoms: As demonstrated, these edible flowers are beautiful and have a mild, zucchini-like taste that complements the dish.
- Choose the right rice: Opt for Arborio, Carnaroli, or Vialone Nano rice, as they’re high in amylopectin, providing the risotto with its signature creamy texture.
- Toast the rice: Before adding any liquid, toast the rice in the oil to seal each grain’s flavor and enhance the nuttiness.
- Stir patiently: Stirring is key to a successful risotto. It helps to release the starches, creating that creamy consistency. Stir gently but consistently, avoiding vigorous movements that can break the rice grains.
- Add liquids gradually: Add broth or stock in small increments, allowing the rice to absorb the liquid fully before adding more. This maintains the desired consistency and prevents the rice from overcooking.
- Finish with butter and Parmesan: Just before serving, stir in a knob of butter and a handful of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. This step, called “mantecatura,” helps bind the risotto and provides a silky, luxurious texture.
What to serve with risotto
While this creamy and flavorful risotto with zucchini is great on its own, selecting the right accompaniments can enhance the overall dining experience. Here are some delicious options.
Pan-seared scallops: These tender scallops are seared to perfection, while the rich and flavorful wine sauce adds a touch of elegance.
Lemon garlic shrimp: This dish’s bright and tangy flavors complement the delicate taste of the risotto, creating a delicious combination.
Pan-Seared Rack of Lamb: For a hearty option, consider the robust flavors of this easy recipe for pan-seared lamb.
How to Prep Zucchini Flowers
Zucchini flowers are visually stunning and add a delicate flavor and touch to your zucchini risotto. But before adding them, we need to clean them. Here is how:
- Separate the flowers from the stem: Hold a zucchini flower near the base where it meets the stem. Apply a slight twisting motion to detach the flower. Kitchen scissors or a sharp knife are equally effective in removing the stem close to the base of the flower.
- Rinse the zucchini flowers: Gently rinse the zucchini flowers under cold water to remove any dirt or bugs. Avoid applying too much pressure, as the petals are delicate.
- Pat dry: Gently pat the zucchini flowers dry with a paper towel after rinsing. This helps remove excess moisture and ensures better texture when cooked or used as a garnish.
How to Store Squash Blossoms
Discover how to store and preserve squash blossoms to maintain their delicate flavor and freshness. Watch the video located in the recipe card.
Once prepped, zucchini flowers can be added to your zucchini risotto during the cooking process for an extra burst of flavor. They also make a beautiful garnish to enhance the presentation of your dish.
Arborio rice is the preferred choice for making Zucchini Risotto, as it has a high starch content. This starch helps to create a creamy texture in the final dish. Although using other types of short-grain rice is possible, Arborio rice yields the best result.
While unnecessary, a traditional wooden risotto spoon with a hole in the middle can help evenly coat the rice with liquid and prevent sticking. However, a regular wooden spoon or silicone spatula will also work fine if the rice is stirred gently and continuously.
Yes, replace it with an equal amount of vegetable broth.
By maintaining warm broth, you ensure even cooking, enhance the dish’s creaminess, enhance flavor infusion, and streamline the cooking process. It is a crucial technique for preparing any risotto.
This dish is best enjoyed fresh, but leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat gently on the stovetop, adding a little water or broth to bring back its creamy consistency.
More zucchini recipes
Discover a variety of delicious zucchini recipes featuring this beloved summer squash! Whether you prefer a zucchini pasta dish or a healthy zucchini muffin, there’s a zucchini recipe to suit your taste buds and help you make the most of your garden harvest or enjoy an effortless meal anytime.
This recipe was born from the abundance of fresh zucchini and zucchini flowers growing in my backyard garden. As a frequent visitor to my blog, you may already know about my love for zucchini and risotto. It was only a matter of time for me to combine them.
Drawing inspiration from my mushroom risotto recipe, I set out to create a version that showcases the unique flavors of zucchini and the delicate touch of its flowers.
This recipe takes on a delightful twist by infusing the classic risotto with the freshness of zucchini. That is to say; I allowed the zucchini to cook together with the arborio rice.
Imagine enjoying a dish that highlights the fruits of my gardening efforts. With each bite, you’ll experience the tender zucchini and the subtle floral hints from the zucchini flowers.
If you love zucchini as much as I do and always searching for fresh and exciting ways to incorporate this versatile vegetable into your cooking, this is for you!
THANKS SO MUCH for following and being part of the She Loves Biscotti community, where you will find Simple & Tasty Family-Friendly Recipes with an Italian Twist.
Ciao for now,
★★★★★ If you have made this summer squash risotto, I would love to hear about it in the comments below and be sure to rate the recipe!
Best risotto recipes
Zucchini Risotto with Squash Blossoms
- 3-4 cups vegetable or chicken broth low sodium
- 2 tablespoons olive oil extra virgin
- 1 shallot minced, about ½ cup
- 2 medium zucchini quartered into ¼-inch pieces
- 2 cloves garlic fresh, minced
- 1 cup arborio rice uncooked
- ½ cup white wine or chicken broth
- 5-6 zucchini flowers prepped and chopped
- 1-2 pinches saffron
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese freshly grated, plus additional for serving-optional
- 1 tablespoon butter room temperature
- salt and pepper to taste
- zucchini flowers optional, to garnish
- extra cheese optional, to garnish
- Place the broth in a small pot and bring to a low simmer. Keep it warm throughout the whole time we are making the risotto.
- Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the shallots to the pan and sauté for about 5 minutes or until translucent. Stir frequently.
- Then, stir in the sliced zucchini and sauté for approximately 5-7 minutes or until slightly golden.
- Add the minced garlic and saute for another minute or until fragrant. Stir frequently.
- Add the rice and stir to combine, ensuring the rice is evenly coated.
- Keep stirring this rice mixture for about 3-5 minutes. The edges of the rice should begin to turn translucent and just begin to turn a light golden brown.
- Add the wine (or broth) and stir constantly until almost all absorbed. This should take 30-60 seconds.
- Stir in a ladle of hot broth (about ½ cup) into the rice mixture.
- Stir until the broth is absorbed.
- Keep adding the broth (½ cup at a time) until it is absorbed, stirring every few minutes or so.
- At the end of 16-20 minutes, start tasting your risotto. The texture should be al dente but still creamy.
- When you achieve this texture, add one more ladle of broth. Add the zucchini flowers and saffron and stir until the broth is almost all absorbed.
- Remove the dish from the heat. Wait 1-2 minutes for the risotto to cool slightly.
- Finish the dish by stirring in a ¼-cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and 1 tablespoon of butter.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning for salt and pepper.
- Serve immediately in warm bowls and garnish with chopped zucchini flowers and additional Parmesan (if desired)