12 September 2010

Zucchini Wars with Zucchini Risotto with Saffron and Shrimp

Zucchini Risotto with Saffron and Shrimp
I am sure that by now, if you don't have a garden of your own, your neighbours are stealing into your yard in the wee hours of the morning and leaving care packages of zucchini on your porch. Or perhaps you are covertly picking the locks of your neighbours cars and leaving them in their baby car seats. If this sounds all too true you have hit the mother load!!!People seem to have a love/hate relationship with this prolific summer squash. I am a lover of zucchini so am always looking for new ways to highlight it's delicate flavour. Bring on the zucchini wars!!!!

Zucchini season is in full swing and you can easily purchase several zucchini at your local farmers market for a dollar. Found in big-box grocery stores and markets year round, this squash truly shines by mid-summer. As a home cook, I'm partial to the sweet, young version, whose delicate, creamy flesh lends itself well to both raw and cooked dishes. I avoid the large, mature zucchinis that haunt the stalls at many markets in late summer which have waterlogged, fibrous bodies and bitter seeds.

I am finding a myriad of suggestions all over the blogosphere to use these little treasures. I have been waiting patiently since early Spring to recreate an Olive Oil Zucchini Cake with Mandarin Glaze and Olive Walnut Brittle from our Canadian chef Lynn Crawford, but, since I am avoiding sweets like the plague since my last visit to the doctor (Nothing to worry about...I just got on the scale! ) I have opted for a zucchini risotto instead. But not just any zucchini risotto we have to amp it up a bit with fire...yes fire.... saffron, grappa and Spot Prawns somewhere in the mix.

This recipe comes from La Cucina Italiana a site and a magazine I must explore further! I have had some west coast Spot Prawns in the freezer since early summer when they were in season to make the broth. This risotto takes zucchini to a whole new level!! I decided not to cook zucchini before adding them to the rice, thus allowing their juices to release right into the risotto. This worked like a charm and the risotto turned out beautifully.
A member of the summer squash family, zucchinis share character traits with the knobby, saucer shaped patty pans and elegant crook-necked varieties. While low in calories, they are packed with important nutrients, such as vitamin C, vitamin A, magnesium and manganese. These nutrients are important for the prevention of cardiovascular disease and help combat inflammatory ailments. In addition, zucchinis are a good source of dietary fibre if the skin is eaten.

At the bottom of this post check put some of the other amazing recipes your fellow bloggers have been creating in their own kitchens with their summer squash. If you have a recipe you would love to share please leave a link in the comments. Join in the Zucchini Wars. We would love to hear from you!!!

**Zucchini Risotto with Saffron and Shrimp**

For the broth:

1 onion, chopped
1 leek, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Shells and heads from 1 pound rock shrimp or Spot Prawns
½ cup grappa
½ cup Gewürztraminer or other aromatic white wine
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 thyme sprig
1 bay leaf
3 Italian parsley sprigs

For the zucchini cream:

2 shallots, minced
1 zucchini, peeled, quartered, and chopped
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 Italian parsley sprigs
2 basil sprigs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the risotto:

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 pound rock shrimp or Spot Prawns, shelled
3 zucchini, diced
12 saffron threads
1 onion, diced
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup Vialone Nano rice
1 cup Gewürztraminer or other aromatic white wine
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 basil sprig

Make the broth: In a saucepan, cook the onion, leek, and celery in 1 tablespoon olive oil for 5 minutes over low heat. Heat the remaining olive oil in a pan; sauté the shells and heads of the rock shrimp over high heat until pink, about 3 minutes; deglaze with the grappa and light a match to the pan (keep your hair and clothes away from the flame). When the flame dies down, pour in the Gewürztraminer; add to the pan with the vegetables. Add the peppercorns, thyme, bay leaf, parsley, and enough water to cover. Simmer 40 minutes, skimming frequently. Strain and discard the solids; reserve.

Make the zucchini cream: Cook the shallots and zucchini in the olive oil over low heat 20 minutes; add the parsley and basil. Purée in a blender with enough broth to emulsify. Add salt and pepper. Keep warm.

Make the risotto: Heat the olive oil and sauté the shrimp until pink, 3 minutes over medium heat. Pour the broth into a pot; bring to a boil. Set a bamboo steamer over the broth, and place the zucchini in the steamer; cook 5 minutes; set aside. Remove 1/4 cup of the broth from the pot; dissolve the saffron in it. Keep the broth hot. Cook the onion in the butter over medium heat 5 minutes. Add the rice; toast 30 seconds, stirring. Add the Gewürztraminer. When it evaporates, add 1 cup of the broth, stirring. When the broth is absorbed, add another cup; continue adding broth, cooking, and stirring for 15 minutes, adding the saffron broth after 10 minutes. Fold in the shrimp, zucchini, zucchini cream, salt, and pepper. Transfer to a platter, garnish with the basil, and serve hot.

Serves 4

What have we been up to...

Grilled Zucchini Polenta from Proud Italian Cook
Clam Zucchini Chowder - Sam of My Carolina Cooking
Chocolate Zucchini Brownies -Heather of Girlichef
Ricotta and Feta Stuffed Zucchini Rolls - Nicole of For the Love of Food
Late Summer Vegetable Soup with Basil Pesto - Susan of  Foodblogga
Spaghetti Con Zucchini from Marla at Bella Baita View
Summer Squash and Goat Cheese Tart by Vanilla Bean Cafe
Olive Oil Zucchini Cake with Lemon Crunch Glaze from Valerie at Canadian Foodie
Slow Cooked Summer Ratatouille with Parmesan Polenta from Dinners for a Year and Beyond
Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread from Aimee of Under The High Chair

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author/owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison. Best Blogger Tips


  1. What a colorful risotto! My mouth is watering!



  2. I just read your profile on Foodbuzz and you got me dreaming with your week of cooking in a Greek island; sounds fabulous as does this risotto with the saffron and the shrimp and the subtle taste of zucchini.

  3. Oh my hat Val, that risotto looks so creamy and fragrant....Lipsmackingly good!!

  4. What a fantastic risotto with zucchini and saffron and shrimp! This would surely be a hit with my family!

  5. This is one of the prettiest risotto dishes I've ever seen. Seriously! We decided to grow zucchini in our container garden. Our plant has been very stingy in it's forthcoming of one of our favorite vegetables. I seriously doubt I could ever tire of them.

  6. My zucchini plans seemed to be targetted by some nasty bugs. So, they're dead now. But, I did get enough zucchini to make a load of muffins. This recipe looks delicious too! I'm going to try again next year with the plants.

  7. Really nice combo and it looks so creamy.

  8. I froze lots of zucchini and squash to make dishes like this all winter! Risotto in January. Sounds good, right?!

  9. I feel like I've been cooking with zucchini non-stop lately! This looks like another fabulous way to use it up. I love throwing just about anything into risotto!

  10. I am definitely in the "I love zucchini" camp. I've been putting it in everything! And even shredding it and eating it as a salad itself.

  11. Oh risotto! YUM! This sounds (and looks!) delicious! A must make!

    Mary xo
    Delightful Bitefuls

  12. Beautiful risotto! The late summer crop of zucchini is almost ready- I'm ready to enjoy its abundance!

  13. Risotto is such a delicious dish. Love the colour in yours and the seafood.

  14. Zucchini wars? That is so funny, Val! Yes, I remember it well. I don't have a garden anymore but in the days when I did, I could have supplied the nearest school! We needed to come up with some really creative recipes.
    And you certainly did with this delicious risotto. Saffron and shrimp really make this a divine plateful!

  15. First, thank you for the link. I just made Lynn's cake last night and will do the glaze and brittle tonight. Take a look at the recipe. It is SO similar to the other one I just made with the lemon glaze. Eerily similar. The olive oil batter was lucious.
    Secondly, what a MASTERPIECE! This dish is truly a labour of love, but once the ingredients are in place, would be pretty straightforward. I am making it. Definitely. This week.
    Thirdly, where did you get fresh spot prawns in the valley? We don't get them out here. I am going to order them next year from my monger as I have never tasted them and after seeing Lynn Crawford's motherload of them on one of her shows, they are on "the list". But, I do have shells and heads in the deepfreeze right now waiting to be made into a bisque, so this will be perfect. Can you actually taste the zucchini, or is it just colour and texture and nutrition that they add to this dish?

  16. As we know zucchini takes on the flavour of whatever we add it to. As for the Spot Prawns I had some still in th freezer from early summer shells, heads and all.

  17. I know I should be writing about zucchini, but before I do I must tell that your risotto looks about as perfect as it can get. That is a fantastic picture. We love zucchini but I tightly control how much we plant, less we become so sated we lose our appetite for it. I hope you have a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

  18. We have a lot of zucchini at the moment and this sounds like a delicious way to treat it! Risotto is one of our favorites in any form.


  19. This looks delicious and this dish is certainly packed with good flavors! We definitely have zucchini wars in our neighborhood!

  20. Val...I came to see you at the wrong time...I should have known! I'm still waiting for my lunch to warm up. Very difficult keeping it together with a dish like this one!

    Great recipes roundup ;o)

    Ciao for now,

  21. i love the way you said that about stealing into your yard with zucchinis.

  22. Great dish! I love the color!

  23. when i read 'zucchini wars,' i envisioned two people using the zukes as swords and doing battle. ha. :)
    great recipe!

  24. Oh Val, what a beautiful risotto! I LOVE zucchini so it's never a burden for me to eat loads, but it is a challenge keeping the recipes interesting at this time of year!

  25. Wow, that risotto looks fabulous. I love the idea of the zucchini cream, I'm sure that amplifies the flavor a lot!

  26. I love the play of colors in this dish!

  27. Valli, what a brilliant color in your risotto! The saffron must be heavenly. Risotto is certainly the food from God and I never tire of preparing it. This recipe is a must!

  28. I just knew this had to have had saffron in it - love the colour.

  29. Wow! What a great combination of ingredients! Love risotto! This has been bookmarked!

    Great blog; happy I found you!

    Mary xo
    Delightful Bitefuls


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