Thursday, November 6, 2008

Zucchini Ricotta Risotto

I know, I know, I haven't posted in days! Just about 2 weeks, actually. =( It's been a busy two weeks, with not much time to cook, take pictures, and then write. Plus, my Mom and Sister came down to visit, and we ate out while they were here, so there was also less need to cook. But, needless to say, I'm back! This week is still pretty busy, but I decided that we just needed to make time and make something scrumptious. Since Greg and I now work the same shift (hooray!), we made this risotto together for lunch. It was so fun to cook with him! It just felt great to have something cooked for the next day. We tend to cook dishes that will feed us for at least two days. I always feel so relaxed when the cooking is done, and we eat so much better. I just need to remind myself of this whenever it seems that there isn't enough time.

I found this recipe in a vegetarian cookbook at Barnes and Nobel (our regular cheap date). Unfortunately, I don't remember the name of the book it was from! But, it looked so great that I had to write down the gist of the recipe. The original recipe only called for you to season the dish with salt and pepper. That sounded a bit to bland. We used nutmeg, oregano, rosemary, cayenne pepper, bay leaf, and of course, salt and pepper.

Using ricotta in the rice really helped make this seem super super creamy and fattening, without adding ANY fat! We also added a bit of parmesan after the ricotta for more flavor, but it was about 1/4 C. of parmesan for about 6 servings of rice! That works out to 2 tsp parmesan per serving, which is 20 calories and 1.5 g of fat.

When Greg took a bite, he said "this is heavenly", which roughly translates to "we'll make this again for years". We were trying to think of what we might do next time when we make it. Neither of us are big mushroom fans, but we both think that the nutty flavor of the risotto would go great with mushrooms. Maybe stuffed into a portabella cap?

Recipe: Serves 6-8 as a side

1 C. dried rice.
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1/3 C. ricotta cheese
1/4 C. parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp rosemary
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
3 gloves garlic, minced
4 C. chicken broth (recipe called for 3 C. chicken broth and 1 C. white wine, we didn't have any wine, so we used all chicken broth)
2 medium zucchini, sliced into rounds and then quartered
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil

-Heat oil on a large skillet to medium heat. Add garlic and onion and cook until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.

-In a separate pot, bring chicken broth to a simmer.

-Add rice to the skillet once the onion is cooked. Stir to coat with oil. You may need to add more oil. "Fry" the rice until it is mostly translucent and smells nutty. About 2-5 minutes, careful not to burn it.

-Once the rice is ready, start adding about 1/3 C. of liquid to the rice at a time. Stir continuously until the liquid is mostly absorbed. Continue this process until there is about 1 C. of liquid remaining. Once there is only 1 C. remaining, add the liquid, spices & zucchini to the rice. Cover and turn down to a simmer. Let cook for about 20-30 minutes until rice is completely cooked.

-When the rice is cooked and most of the liquid has been absorbed, add the ricotta and parmesan. Stir to evenly incorporate. Serve warm.