Tomato and Yellow Zucchini Risotto
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“Using yellow zucchini instead of green makes a very colorful risotto,” Randall writes, “but don’t worry if you can’t find them—green work just as well. The challenge of making a vegan risotto is that you don’t have the luxury of adding butter and Parmesan to emulsify it, so you have to cook the zucchini long enough to allow it to break down and become creamy.”
Trust us, one bite and you won’t miss the butter or Parm.
Recipe excerpted with permission from The Italian Deli Cookbook by Theo Randall, published by Quadrille, March 2021.
4 yellow or green zucchini
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for serving
1 garlic clove, finely sliced
5½ ounces (150g) baby plum tomatoes, halved
2 celery sticks, finely chopped
1 red onion, finely chopped
12 ounces (350g) Carnaroli risotto rice
3½ ounces (100ml) dry white wine
10½ ounces (300g) tomato passata (or substitute purée)
6½ cups (52 ounces/1.5L) hot vegetable stock
10 basil leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 300°F.
2. Slice the zucchini into ½-inch rounds, then place 3 rounds on top of each other and cut to create ½-inch matchsticks. Repeat until all the zucchini is sliced. Heat a saucepan over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the zucchini and garlic and season with salt. Place the lid on the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the lid and let the moisture in the pan evaporate, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini starts to caramelize, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
3. Toss the tomatoes with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and arrange the tomatoes in a single layer on top. Bake until soft, 12 to 15 minutes, then remove from the oven and set aside.
4. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the remaining olive oil and the celery and onion. Cook for about 3 minutes, then add the rice and cook until the rice absorbs the oil and goes translucent, about 3 minutes more. Add the wine and cook until absorbed, then add the passata. Gradually start adding the stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring and cooking until all the liquid absorbs before adding more, until the rice still has bite but is not crunchy, 12 to 15 minutes. The risotto should be very wet at this stage—almost soupy.
5. Add half the cooked zucchini and cook for a further 5 to 6 minutes, then add the remaining zucchini, along with the roasted tomatoes and basil. Taste for seasoning, then place a tight-fitting lid on the pan and turn off the heat. Leave for 2 minutes, then remove the lid and give the risotto a good stir. Serve topped with black pepper and an extra drizzle of olive oil.