Put up your hand if you’re running out of ideas of what to do with your glut of courgettes? It’s late July, courgettes are everywhere. They have been everywhere since about early June, and there’s still August to get through. You are finding it hard to even give the little buggers away for free. You’ve grated, spiralised, baked, stuffed, fried and stacked them, but they just won’t go away.
Well, help is at hand! This recipe was borne out of a need to use up a few too many courgettes that I received in my fortnightly organic veg box. My fennel plant in the garden was (is) slowly turning into a gigantic triffid and I still had some fecking hazelnuts in the nut bowl from Christmas (note to self, buy less in-shell nuts next Christmas – doesn’t matter how much of a bargain they are!) From this ramshackle bunch of ingredients was this risotto recipe born. Even my husband who really isn’t a fan of courgettes wolfed this down scraping the very last remnants from his plate and asking if there was any more left. Now, I call that a successful dish…
You may note that there is an absence of white wine and cheese in this dish. Instead of white wine, I have chosen to use the lemon juice for the acid, and instead of parmesan and cream, I have opted for the lighter option of crème fraiche. If you couldn’t face your risotto without some parmesan atop, then by all means knock yourself out…I’m not precious about these things!
Ingredients (serves 2):
- 1/2 cup of risotto rice
- 3 banana shallots
- Zest and juice of 1 large lemon
- 1 yellow chili
- 1 ltr of vegetable stock
- 2 courgettes (green/yellow), cut into 2cm pieces
- Fresh fennel/dill herb
- 1 tbsp of crème fraiche
- Handful of hazelnuts, shelled and roughly chopped
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Fennel pollen to garnish
- Finely chopped the shallots (in a mini-chopper is best).
- Add some olive oil to a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the shallots and gently fry until transparent. Do this slowly so as not to burn. Add the finely chopped chili.
- Add the rice to the pan and stir until well coated. Add the courgettes.
- Grate the zest of the lemon into the pan. After zesting, firmly roll the lemon then cut in half and extract all the juice directly into the pan. Stir everything together until the rice has absorbed the lemon juice.
- Begin adding the stock slowly, about a ladle full at a time, stirring constantly until all the liquid has been soaked up by the rice before adding more. The more liquid you add, the longer it will take for the rice to soak up the liquid but don’t rush this part of the process.
- Continue adding the liquid until about 750ml of stock is gone.
- At this point, your risotto will be pretty much done. Add the finely chopped fennel herb, stir and check for seasoning. Add / adjust as you need to.
- Check your rice. The risotto should not be too stodgy or too loose, and the rice should be cooked but retaining a little bite. If you would like your rice cooked a little softer, or your risotto a little looser, add the remaining stock so that the whole litre of it is used up.
- When happy with the risotto’s consistency, stir through the crème fraiche and scatter most of the hazelnuts through. A final stir and you are ready to serve.
- Garnish with the remaining hazelnuts, fennel pollen stems and a final twist of black pepper and you are ready to serve!