risotto with prawns and courgettes

Risotto con zucchine e gamberetti from Lombardy

In Italy, it used to be said that if you ordered risotto in the South and pasta in the North then you would get exactly what you deserve – wallpaper paste. This may have been true at one time as risotto certainly hails from the Milan area and Pasta from near Naples, but nowadays you can get pretty decent risotto and pasta across the entire peninsula.

shrimp and zucchini

However… I learned to make risotto not in Salerno, but in Bergamo. It has become, in fact, something of a speciality – risotto is not as difficult as people make it out to be, although it is more time consuming than pasta.

This dish looks more impressive than it is also because of the presentation in little roasted courgette cups, but you can make the recipe as a simple risotto too – thankfully, considering that rounded cougettes or zucchine tonde are not always easy to get hold of. Done this way however it makes excellent dinner party fare, not least because risotto is easier to make in larger quantities.

You will need (serves 2-4)

4 rounded courgettes (they look like this)
1 pack of prawns (fresh or defrosted)
1 heaped cup of risotto rice (I use arborio)
Olive oil
1 glass of dry white wine
1 pint of vegetable or fish stock
Hot water
Salt and pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C

2. Top and tail the courgettes so that they sit flat and slice down the middle.

3. Using a sharp knife and a teaspoon, hollow out the courgettes. Conserve the pulp in a bowl.

4. Grease and salt a baking tray and the hollowed out courgettes. Place in the oven, and check throughout to make sure they roast without burning.

5. Crush the garlic clove and chop finely

6. Heat oil in a pan then add the garlic. Once the garlic begins to turn golden, throw in the cup of rice and stir until the rice is coated with oil. Add the glass of wine and allow evaporation to begin, stirring all the time.

7. Add the pulp from the courgettes, chopped coarsely. Start adding the stock, one ladleful at a time, allowing the liquid to cook off each time. When you run out of stock use hot water, otherwise the result will be too salty (and remember to keep checking the courgette “cups” in the oven).

8. When the rice is still al dente, add the prawns.

9. When the rice is ready, the grains will be soft and fluffy and there will be just enough liquid in the mixture for there to be an ondata lenta, or slow wave, when you move the pan.

10. Remove from heat and place in the “cups”. Add black pepper to taste.

See, it’s easy! And people will be impressed. Unless they read this blog that is, which is pretty unlikely!

PS don’t ask me what to do with the rest of the wine. You should know the answer to that already.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. merrynsmenu says:

    What a refreshing blog. I love prawn risotto and the idea of browning the garlic then adding the rice + wine is unique! I usually brown an onion with garlic first. Though my husband’s family are from Calabria and they consider risotto to be distasteful. Your idea of mixing the zucchini pulp through is brilliant. I have just enjoyed reading many of your posts. Buon appetitio! Merryn@merrynsmenu

    1. Bit of North vs South snobbery going on – So Italian! Glad you are enjoying, Ihope to get beck to blogging soon. Life is in the way at the moment unfortunately!


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