There’s a risotto for every season, but the creamy rice dish is particularly apt for showing off the flavourful vegetables of summer. This is the time to get creative – with a risotto, anything goes. Delicate courgettes, deep purple aubergines, fragrant sunripened tomatoes, sweet peas… pick anything you fancy, the choice is overwhelming!
Even weeds should not be overlooked. I’m lucky to have a small courtyard at my disposition, if only temporarily, which is abundant with dandelions. Pretty as they are, lighting up like little suns, I had to sneak a few for my risotto, just to see what they taste like. All parts of the dandelion are edible, the leaves and the flowers too, although the green base of the bloom tastes slightly bitter. In contrast, the petals have a lovely sweetness which added a hint of flavour to the risotto.
Now that I’ve satisfyed my curiousity I’m going to leave the rest of the flowers in peace, though. Their golden beauty does after all last longer in the garden than on my tongue…
1 courgette, sliced wafer-thin
1 onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 cup risotto rice
2 tablespoons olive oil
chicken or vegetable stock
a knob of butter
juice of ½ lemon
25 g feta cheese
25 g parmesan, grated
20 g pine nuts
dandelion flowers or other edible flower, to finish (optional)
1. Toast the pine nuts in a dry pan until browned and fragrant. Set to one side.
2. In the same pan, heat a tablespoon of olive oil and fry the courgettes over a high heat. Season with salt and pepper. Make sure there is only one layer – you may have to fry in several batches. Place on kitchen towel and set to one side.
3. Now the risotto – heat another tablespoon of olive oil and sauté onions, garlic and risotto rice for about 5 minutes. Then add your stock gradually until the rice is cooked, should be about 18-20 minutes.
4. Turn off the heat and blend parmesan, butter and lemon juice into the rice. Crumble the feta cheese and stir well. Finally fold the courgettes gently into the risotto.
5. Serve with toasted pine nuts and perhaps a pretty flower.