Is it fall or still summer? In the Bay Area, we hover between seasons this time of year. My tomatoes are finally approaching the end of their run, and I am savoring the last tastes of summer. My neighbor who gave me the delicious lemon cucumbers for the Tzatziki, also brought over these beautiful summer squash. In my own garden, I haven’t had much luck with squash, but I have grown some squash blossoms, herbs, and Meyer lemon to add to the dish. Once again, the bounty from my garden, or a friend’s, dictates my meals. I ended up cooking a summer squash risotto to serve with grilled Coho salmon for Paul’s parents who are visiting this week.
I always look to Alice Waters to inspire me and part of this recipe is adapted from Vegetables. This recipe is combined with one for lemon risotto from Patricia Wells’ Trattoria, an infallibly great cookbook.
¼ - ½ pound summer squash
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
7-8 cups chicken broth
2 cups Arborio rice
1/3 cup white or rose wine
6 squash blossoms
herbs of your choice ( I used basil and mint from my garden)
juice of one Meyer lemon
zest from the lemon
¾ cup grated Parmesan
salt and pepper to taste
Heat chicken stock in a separate pot and keep going at a low simmer throughout cooking.
Chop squash into bite-sized pieces. Sauté in 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Peel and mince shallots. Cook in heavy bottomed saucepan with 2 tablespoons butter. After a few minutes and the shallots are soft but not brown, add the rice. Stir to coat with butter and shallots. Cook for a few minutes until rice glistens. Add wine until almost absorbed. Add one ladle full of warm broth. Stir frequently. Maintain a gentle simmer and continue to add broth, keeping a consistent veil of liquid covering the cooking rice.
When the risotto has cooked for 12-15 minutes and still has a firm bite, add chopped herbs and squash blossoms (sliced lengthwise). Cook for approximately 5 minutes more, still stirring and keeping a good layer of broth covering the rice.
When risotto is cooked through, but not at all mushy, remove from heat and add sautéd squash, lemon juice, zest, 2 last tablespoons butter, and Parmesan. Season generously with salt and pepper. Stir and cover for a minute or two, then eat.
As we sat down to eat, I found out my father-in-law really doesn’t like squash. But he loved this risotto. For me, risotto is the ultimate comfort food.
Serves 8 as a side dish