Zucchini, Mint and Goat's Cheese Risotto

This light, creamy risotto combines courgette, mint, and tangy goat's cheese. It makes for a tasty lunch or dinner party starter.

From the book

Venice: Four Seasons of Home Cooking by
Venice: Four Seasons of Home Cooking
Authentic Venetian dishes across all four seasons
Delicious pasta and risotto recipes
Stunning food and travel photography

Introduction

With a natural predisposition to Parmesan, it is easy to see how other types of cheese might be overlooked as cooking ingredients in Italian cuisine, but I absolutely love the subtle tang that a good goat’s cheese can impart to a dish. In this instance, it marries beautifully with zucchini and mint, resulting in a risotto that is not just elegantly textured and creamy, but also a little more subtle; perfect for a light lunch on a warm day.

Serves 4

Ingredients

1.5 litres vegetable stock
extra virgin olive oil
A large bunch spring onions, very finely sliced
flaky sea salt
350g Carnaroli rice
A glass of Sauvignon Blanc
2 medium zucchini
150g excellent goat’s cheese
A large handful mint leaves, roughly chopped
A large knob of butter
freshly ground black pepper
the zest of ½ a lemon

Instructions

Heat the stock in a large saucepan and put it to simmer at the back of the stove with a ladle handy. Pour a few good splashes of olive oil in a separate large, heavy-based saucepan and place over a low heat. Very gently sauté the spring onions with a good pinch of salt for 10 minutes or so, until they are soft and glossy, but not brown. Add the rice and mix well, coating each grain. Turn the heat up a little and pour in the wine. This will produce a satisfying hiss and a beautiful smell.

Add a ladleful of stock and stir. Continue to do so slowly and gently, making sure the rice never absorbs all the liquid but is always just submerged. Add more stock, little by little, and repeat for the next 8 minutes.

Trim the zucchini and cut into quarters lengthways. Slice the long pieces at an angle to create 3cm triangular chips about 5mm thick. Mix them into the risotto and stir gently for another 6 minutes, slowly adding more stock as necessary. Crumble half the goat’s cheese and mix in, along with the mint. Stir well, cook for another 4 minutes or so, then test the rice for doneness. It should have a little resistance between your teeth but not be hard. Adjust the seasoning at this point if necessary.

Remove from the heat. Add the butter and remaining crumbled goat’s cheese and fold carefully into the risotto until fully absorbed. Cover and rest for a minute, then serve on warmed plates with a twist of black pepper and a very light scattering of lemon zest.

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