Monday, May 7, 2012

Zucchini Blossom and Artichoke Risotto {gluten free}

Every spring the stand with the bright beautiful zucchini blossoms and baby artichokes jumps out at me. This weekend was no different. The girls excitedly grabbed a basket off the table and littlest swiftly chomped into one of those baby zucchini before I could stop her. It didn't matter... it provided a good laugh for the girl behind the table, and gave me a good excuse to bring home a basket. Even if I didn't know what I was going to do with them once we got home. The girls loved imagining fairies playing inside the flowers.

While not my usual super-fast weeknight dinner, I love making risotto on the weekends and had a box of arborio rice in the pantry. Risotto gives me an excuse to not be bothered for a good 35 minutes. There's something very relaxing about stirring the broth into the rice for that long and doing nothing else, as one must do to make a good creamy risotto. This is not the best recipe to cook with very young kids, but older ones could help with stirring. I used a basic risotto recipe from Cooking Light and transformed it from one with sage to one that is undeniably "spring."  I'll be trying Cooking Light's sage version in the fall! 

Risotto makes a great gluten-free meal for those avoiding wheat, as many of my friends are. Boost the protein by adding grilled shrimp, chicken, or prosciutto.

 Zucchini Blossom and Artichoke Risotto
printer-friendly recipe  

Serves 4 

juice of 1 lemon
8 baby artichokes
8 baby zucchini with flowers
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil 

2 (14-ounce) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup finely chopped leek
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/4 cups Arborio rice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup (4 ounces) finely chopped fresh mozzarella cheese 
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
chopped parsley for garnish (optional) 

Place 2 cups water and lemon juice in a large bowl.
Trim artichoke stems to 1/2 - inch. Cut artichokes in half lengthwise and remove tough outer leaves so that just the hearts and thin leaves are left. Trim about 1/2" off the tops. Place in lemon water.

Slice baby zucchini into about 1/4" rounds. Slice the flowers into thin ribbons. I like to leave a few flowers whole and wilt them into the risotto or use as garnish.

Heat olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Remove artichokes from water and pat dry. Transfer to pan and cook, covered, stirring occasionally for 8 minutes, or until softened. Uncover and add zucchini, but not blossoms to the pan. Saute until zucchini are tender crisp. Transfer vegetables to a bowl.

Bring broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat.
Melt butter in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add leek and garlic; cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add rice and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in wine; cook 2 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 20 minutes total). Stir in vegetables and flowers. Remove from heat; stir in mozzarella. Sprinkle with black pepper. Garnish with parsley if desired.


  1. Beautiful risotto Marina! Zucchini fiore are so pretty on a plate. Did your girls find any Fairies in it?! :)

  2. So, so pretty! I've wanted to try risotto so badly but have not been brave enough to try it yet. You've inspired me. I love the idea of adding shrimp too. Still riding the waves of my seaside escape last week :)

  3. Awesome dish!I love zucchini blossoms, there's a restaurant here and they stuff them with a ricotta mixture and deep fry in a tempura batter....seriously good :)

  4. Kirsten8:44 AM

    Gorgeous photos! Makes me want to go to a farmers market this weekend!

  5. I love risotto and this recipe seems perfect for a spring dinner. Add a salad and crusty bread and I'd be in heaven.

  6. I could make (and eat!) risotto any day of the week. I find it relaxing too. And the aroma can't be beat.
    Have never tried it with zucchini flowers. A dear friend makes a batter using them and then fries them up. So, so good.

  7. What a gorgeous dish! Yum!

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  9. This looks amazing! My dads recently been on a gluten-free cleanse, so this is perfect! And as risotto is one of his favorite foods, this will definitely be made soon! Delicious, can't wait.

  10. YUM!! Looks so delicious Marina. Your photography is brilliant by the really make me feel as though I am actually sitting in front of your food (which is kinda a bad thing when I am really hungry :) )
    XO - Marion

  11. I love the meditation that making risotto provides. Reminder to those preparing this gluten-free: some prepared chicken broths contain MSG (monosodium glutamate), which contains gluten. Be sure to seek out those broths that are MSG-free. As always, beautiful photos, Marina!

  12. Wonderful recipe!! It's so pretty and looks so tasty!!

  13. your photos and recipes are always GORGEOUS. thanks for sharing this one - i'm excited to make it!

  14. This sounds absolutely lovely. Great photos!

  15. This looks fantastic! I just love the pic with the squash blossoms!

  16. Marina, this just absolutely terrific! I love fiori di zucca and this is a good idea to include in a risotto with artichokes! this is what i call a seasonal meal!

  17. hi marina! thanks for following my pinterest, and the sweet blog comment, your blog is lovely! exciting to follow your gluten free treats :)

  18. What a lovely risotto - the baby zucchini and artichoke is a great combination.
    Mary x

  19. What an elegant dish! I love the combination of flavors!

  20. What a beautiful spring recipe! I've never cooked with zucchini blossoms before, but I do like them a lot. I only started experimenting with risotto this year so I'm glad to find yet another recipe I can bookmark :)

  21. This looks so delightful! I made a squash blossom pizza last summer that was SO divine- I will have to try this asap! =) xox Sal

  22. perfection! The zucchini blossoms burst with the most vibrant color I think a veggie can have and the flavors are intoxicating!

  23. I love this risotto recipe. I have trouble with risotto as I lack patience. I'll have to try again when I need to zen out a bit. I haven't seen the farmer's markets open here yet but am looking forward to it so I can get some fresh food. Our seasons make fresh difficult.

  24. Marina, this looks so good! I have never tried my hand at risotto (being that it has a reputation for being rather hard to make) but I do love to eat it. Maybe I watch too many Gordon Ramsey shows:)

    Also, I had no idea you could eat zucchini blossoms. I am impressed with this meal to say the least:)


  25. Seriously, your photography is MIND BLOWING!

  26. Dear Heaven Above......could a dish be any better?????? I think not.

  27. i want this for lunch today! how will that happen!?!

    just referenced you in a guest post at design chic here:

    best to you, and always a pleasure to spread yummy mummy love!


  28. This sounds delicious and your photography is gorgeous!!

  29. My goodness this looks like the loveliest, delicious risotto! Stunning photography as well.

  30. This dish looks wonderful and I can't believe that I haven't made risotto in years. It's definitely on my to do list for fall. My cooking motivation is low this week as it's been extremely hot and my kid's activities are crazy right about now! I can't wait for summer!

  31. It looks fantastic! I love your pictures. They are always terrific.

  32. What a nice spring risotto!


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