In the summer I try to not spend much time cooking over a hot stove, but for a special occasion — like my first year wedding anniversary — I make some exceptions.
Aside from the beautiful location and having our family and friends together to witness and join in the celebration of our marriage, one of our favorite parts about our wedding day was the food. It was one of my top priorities and we spent a lot of time looking over our menu choices for the cocktail hour and the main reception dinner. One of Adam’s favorite foods is risotto. He really looked forward to and highly enjoyed the risotto station during cocktail hour and still laments that he did not have enough time to have a second serving.
On the Saturday of our anniversary weekend, we went out to dinner to a local French restaurant, Latour. As an appetizer I had a luscious seafood risotto made with lobster, scallops and shrimp. This dish, combined with the memory of the risotto from our wedding day, inspired me to make risotto the next night, for our actual anniversary dinner. I wanted to highlight fresh summer produce to create a rich side dish to compliment decadent filet mignons.
I love fresh zucchini and corn and often eat them raw. To keep the textures small but interesting, I shredded the zucchini and chopped the corn off the cob, breaking the kernels apart. I added them during the last minutes of cooking to keep them bright and crunchy. I braved the rain storm to pick some fresh basil from my porch and zested a lemon to bring the dish together.
The result? I think I cooked the best meal I’ve cooked in long time. I was quite proud of myself. It was worth the one cup of coveted chardonay wine I bought last summer from Brooklyn Oenology and the calories from the butter and pancetta were a distant memory while devouring our dinner. The steaks were a perfect medium rare, kept simple with only salt and pepper and the risotto made each of us go “mmmm” at every bite.
Served as side dish, this recipe makes a lot of risotto, but never fear, risotto makes great leftovers that won’t leave you disappointed to eat the same thing at least twice in one week.
Lemon Basil Risotto with Zucchini and Corn
- 4 Tbs butter
- 1/2 cup shallots, finely chopped (about 2 whole shallots)
- 4 oz. Pancetta, diced
- 1 1/2 cups of Aborio Rice
- 1 cup of dry, white wine
- 5 cups chicken broth
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 3 ears of fresh corn, cut from cob
- 2 zucchinis, shredded
- 20 basil leaves, cut into ribbons (chiffonade)
- 1 lemon, zested
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
While chopping your vegetables, heat 5 cups of chicken broth in a covered sauce pan over low heat.
In a heavy bottom pot or dutch oven, saute pancetta, shallots and butter over medium low heat until shallots are translucent, but not brown.
(Note: Your kitchen will start to smell heavenly at this point)
Add rice and stir coat rice with butter and lightly toast. Turn heat to low and pour in wine. Cook for two minutes.
(Watch out, your kitchen will start to smell even better at this point. You may have the irresistible desire to pour yourself a glass of wine. Go ahead, do it )
Add salt and pepper, and 2 full ladles of simmering stock. Stirring often, simmer to let liquid reduce until rice appears a little dry, about 5-10 minutes. Add two more ladles of stock.
Repeat this process each time the rice appears a little dry. As the rice cooks, it will give off its starches, making the risotto creamy. Continue adding broth, remembering to stir often, and cook until rice is cooked through but still slightly al dente.
When the last ladles of broth are added, add in corn, zucchini, basil, lemon zest and parmesan cheese. Stir to combine and let the last bit of liquid absorb while the vegetables lightly steam.
Serve immediately and enjoy.
Did you notice something new on this post? I’ve finally bought my domain name, http://www.serifandspice.com! In the next few weeks, also keep an eye out for a new logo designed by me.