I don’t make risotto often—I think the last time I posted a recipe for it was way back in 2017 but it’s not for any lack of love. On the contrary, I adore risotto and it would definitely be at the top of my list if we were at an Italian restaurant (sorry, Laur, I know I how you feel about it). It’s just all that standing and stirring and who really has the time at the end of the day to do that? But recently I did find myself with a free afternoon and I’d been hanging onto this recipe for what seemed like forever, plus we had an open bottle of wine and…two years is too much time between risotto! Lesson learned!
Especially when it’s this carrot-zucchini version. It’s just delish—vegetarian and gluten-free too!
And while it is a bit labor intensive (do not attempt this on a night when you’re driving the soccer carpool!) none of the steps are difficult—you just need a bit of patience. Put on some music or a podcast and risotto away!
You start by chopping up leeks, carrots, zucchini and garlic—
Then you sauté them until they get softened and almost caramelized, making the end result that wonderful mix of sweet and savory.
Then half of that mixture gets puréed in the blender so that all those veggies coat the risotto and the other half get put aside and stirred in later for some more texture.
Now comes the stirring part. I like to think of it as getting a little arm workout!
In the end, all that effort is totally worth it ‘cause you are rewarded with a creamy, chewy, cheesy bowl of veggie risotto perfection that’s satisfying yet not overly heavy—perfect for these nippy little fall nights!
Makes 5-6 servings
You will need a blender or food processor for this.
Prep Time: About 45 minutes
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 large carrots, peeled and diced
2 medium zucchini, diced
2 large leeks, sliced down the middle lengthwise, cut into thin half moons, washed well, drained and dried
3 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
Kosher salt and black pepper
5 ½-6 ½ cups of homemade vegetable stock or store-bought (or sub in chicken broth, it just won’t be vegetarian then), divided
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 cups Arborio rice
½ cup white wine (if you don’t want to use wine just add some extra broth)
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
1. Heat a large, deep skillet over high heat, then lower to medium and add the oil. Add the carrots and sauté for about 5 minutes, stirring every now and then, until they begin to soften. Add the zucchini, leeks and garlic and let cook for about 15 minutes, until veggies are soft and lightly browned, stirring every now and then. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
2. Transfer half of the veggie mixture and all of the garlic to a blender or food processor and add about ½ cup of the stock. Puree until smooth and season with salt and pepper to taste. Place the remaining veggie mixture in the skillet into a bowl and set aside. Place the remaining stock in a medium pot, bring to a simmer and lower the heat to keep stock hot.
3. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter to the skillet and heat over medium heat to melt. Add the rice and cook for about 2 minutes, allowing rice to toast a bit. Add the wine (or stock) and cook, stirring until the wine is absorbed, about 1 minute. Using a ladle, add about ½ cup of the stock to the rice at a time, stirring constantly, until the liquid is absorbed. Then add some more and stir, repeating the process until all the stock has been used up and the rice is al dente. This can take anywhere from 25-30 minutes.
4. Add back in the pureed veggies, reserved vegetables, cheese and remaining tablespoon of butter. Stir to combine and taste. Add more salt and pepper if necessary and serve immediately with additional Parmesan on the side.
Note: Recipe adapted from Sara Moulton’s Home Cooking 101. I tinkered with this—used more carrots and zucchini, subbed in chicken broth for the veggie broth and cut the basil.