Serious Eats: Recipes

Dinner Tonight: Summer Squash Risotto

[Photograph: Blake Royer]

Vegetables make us better, and certainly more creative, cooks. It's one thing to master the art of grilling a steak or sautéeing a chicken breast, perfecting the technique until it comes out perfectly every time. But in the end, it's approximately the same technique used every time. When faced with a vegetable, though, the options are almost endless. For instance, the zucchini in my fridge could have been sliced and sautéed in garlic, stewed into a ratatouille, shredded into an egg batter and fried into fritters, or ended up as the base of this light, herb-y risotto.

I often turn to Chez Panisse Vegetables when I have a vegetable rather than an idea for dinner, and this summer squash risotto recipe caught my eye. It's a fairly standard recipe as far as the risotto is concerned—butter, onions, wine, stock, and rice—which means the flavor of the zucchini or summer squash and fresh herbs emerges. My only adaptation was to drizzle in some good balsamic vinegar into the pot shortly before serving; I find that its sweetness and acidity does wonders to balance a rich risotto. It's kind of a little secret.

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