July Seasonal Ingredient- Courgette Summer Risotto

This is yet another couple of seasonal ingredient recipes where I'm trying an ingredient for the first time and thankfully, I now know I love courgette! Doing some research into courgette recipes, they seem to be used in hot food rather than sliced up raw on cold salads so I decided to incorporate the courgette into my favourite hot dish; the risotto. As I saw that courgette is clearly a more summer vegetable, I wanted this risotto to be as creamy and warming as it usually is but with lighter ingredients that wouldn’t way so heavily on the stomach, so you can still eat this on those warmer summer days in the garden. 

I decided to use mushroom (because that's a risotto staple), frozen peas, our summer courgette, and broccoli for the dish as I knew these vegetables would work together and could all be cooked alongside each other so nothing needs to be cooked beforehand and wouldn’t add any more time onto the dish. So with that, let's make a risotto! 
  • Quick note: You don’t need to peel courgette before slicing/dicing, I imagine it as some sort of hybrid cucumber/ potato, it needs cooking and softening like a potato but the skin is perfectly safe to eat like cucumber and does soften when cooked. 

Serves 2-3 

126g Courgette, sliced into strips or diced 
30g Frozen Green Peas 
100g Broccoli 
80g Button Mushrooms, halved  
2 Veg Stock Cubes 
600ml Boiling Water 
200g Arborio Rice 
1 Large Clove of Garlic, finely chopped
30g Cheese (any cheese is fine, I chose medium cheddar for this recipe) 

To begin with we want to make our stock. In a small pan on low heat add the boiling water and stock cubes whisking gently for 5-7 mins until the stock cubes have fully dissolved and the water is simmering. 

As the stock is boiling begin to fry the garlic. Add a tsp of oil (I used butter, only because I had a tiny bit leftover from baking so it saved on waste) to a deep frying pan/wok and keep on a low heat until the garlic is golden and fragrant, this should take about 3-4 mins. 

Now, we want to cook the vegetables that will take the longest, so into the frying pan, we will add the broccoli and courgette with a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Keep turning the veg in the pan to infuse with the garlic and allow it all to cook for around 10 mins until it begins to soften, the vegetables don’t need to go soft as they’ll fully cook once we add the stock. 

Once the veg has softened, add your risotto rice and toast it for 2-3 mins, making sure you move it around constantly to incorporate with the oil, garlic, and veg.  

After the rice has toasted, add a ladle (about 100ml) of stock at a time to the pan and let this simmer on a low heat until it's soaked up by the rice, continue to add the stock in stages, and always allow the rice to soak up the stock before you add anymore otherwise you run the risk of the risotto becoming soupy. This should take around 25-35 mins. 

Once you've poured the remaining stock into the pan, add in the mushrooms and peas, these will take less than 10 mins to cook so we only add these in right at the end to try and avoid overcooking. Add some more salt and pepper and keep moving the stock around until the rice looks stodgy but don’t allow it to stick to the pan! 

Now onto the final part, add your sliced cheese into the pan and keep constantly stirring the risotto until the cheese has fully melted, there is no watery stock remaining and your risotto takes on a thick and creamy consistency, some people add something like cream cheese, milk or cottage cheese to help thicken it up but my best friend (and home-cooked risotto expert) Shannon, told me that you don’t need any of that and just consistently stirring is enough to release the starch from the rice and thicken it up on its own. Once cooked, remove the pan from the heat and leave the risotto to rest for about a minute before serving.

I am fully obsessed with risottos now, a lot of my time spent talking to Shannon seems to always resort back to risotto ingredients and techniques! I often use risotto as an excuse to use up all my sad-looking veg in the fridge, not only does it save on waste, I always end up with a ridiculously tasty meal (that I can also have for lunch the next day) and also stop the waste of good ingredients. So, if you want to get fancy and add in some other cheeses or different ingredients then go ahead, I feel my constant risotto recipes only go to show the diversity this dish can have. But more importantly, I was so happy with how the courgette tasted within it! The courgette still had a bite to add a different texture to the soft, stodgy rice but it had such a light and refreshing taste, partnered with the peas, mushrooms, and broccoli I think I’ve been able to create something that can be eaten on a hot day with some lovely crusty bread and still be light enough to eat in summer but more than filling enough to have as a main meal. 
I hope I'm inspiring the risotto chef in you and you’ll find some time to make this for yourself or the ones you love, tomorrow I have the sweet dish for our courgette seasonal ingredient..and it’s a good one! 

H x