Fresh Zucchini & Lemon Risotto

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It is summertime and our garden is thriving!  I love having fresh vegetables, but his is my husband’s second baby.  He loves his garden!  He takes care of the veggies and I take care of the flowers.  This is our third year of gardening and we have learned a lot each season.  This year, my husband re-designed the garden beds and it looks amazing.  Each year it keeps getting bigger, but that just means more room for vegetables.  This year we are growing tomatoes, cucumbers, a million different kinds of peppers, eggplant, carrots, green beans, potatoes and the highlight of this dish, zucchini and summer squash.

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If you have read my blog, you know I love risotto.  The zucchini is plentiful in the garden so we needed some new ways to use it up.  This risotto is light and fresh and is actually inspired by the first course from our wedding.

Ingredients

  • 5 1/2-6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 Zucchinis, chopped
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 4-5 large fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 lemon, zested and juiced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese to taste

Directions

In a large saucepan, bring the vegetable/chicken stock to a simmer.  While the stock is heating, in a food processor combine about 3/4 cups of the chopped zucchini, basil and a drizzle of olive oil to create a paste and set aside.

In a large sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat, add onion and sauté until translucent and softened, but not browned.

Add the rice to the sauté pan and stir to coat with the oil.  Toast the rice until the edges become translucent and white spots appear in the center of the grains, about 1 min.

Pour in the wine and stir well until completely absorbed.

Add 1/2 cup of the hot stock to the rice.  Cook, stirring constantly, until all the stock has been absorbed. Continue to add the stock, 1/2 cup at time, and cook until each successive batch has been absorbed.  Once you have used about half of the stock, add the chopped zucchini and the zucchini and basil paste.  If you add it at the beginning the zucchini will cook for too long and get too soft.  Stir constantly and adjust the level of heat so the rice is simmering very gently while adding the stock until the rice mixture is creamy, but al dente.  This will take from 15 to 20 minutes.

Add the lemon zest and lemon juice, salt and pepper and top with a little parmesan cheese. Serve piping hot.

 

Penne with Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

I’M BACK!!!

It has been over a week now since our last major snow storm and there has even been some major melting going on here so things are starting to get back to normal.  I hope I didn’t just jinx myself!

I have been in a cooking rut lately.  Maybe it is the multiple feet of snow outside and the fact that we are constantly on snow removal duty this winter, but I haven’t been spending enough time in the kitchen cooking on my new gas range that I got for Christmas :).  I feel like I have been making the same things for dinner over and over, so I am on a mission to try some new recipes.  I came across a few recipes on Pinterest and although they sounded good, nothing was exactly what I was looking for so I decided to craft this one up on my own.  It turned out to be a big hit and I will definitely be making this again!  It is also a quick weeknight meal recipe, which I need more of.

Penne with Chicken and Sundried Tomato - LiveDineParty

Penne with Chicken and Sundried Tomato - LiveDineParty

Penne with Chicken and Sundried Tomato - LiveDineParty

Ingredients

  • 4 oz. Sun-dried Tomatoes (packed in oil)
  • Olive Oil
  • Handful of Fresh Basil
  • 1 Large Garlic Clove (if you love garlic feel free to add more)
  • 1 Tbs. Pine Nuts (optional)
  • Chicken, cut into tenders
  • Flour
  • 1/2 lb Penne
  • Half & Half
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions

First, make the sun-dried tomato pesto.  In a food processor, combine the sun-dried tomatoes, 3 Tbs. oil from the sun-dried tomatoes, 2 Tbs. olive oil, garlic, basil, pine nuts, salt & pepper.  Blend together.  Add additional olive oil if necessary.

In a medium pot, boil water and cook the penne pasta.  Make sure to reserve some pasta water as you will need it to add to the sauce.

While the water boils, dredge the chicken in flour.  Heat 3 Tbs. of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium/high heat.  Cook the chicken until golden brown on both sides.  Add the sun-dried tomato pesto and cook on low.  Add the cooked penne to the skillet.  Add pasta water, a little at a time, to thin out the sauce.  Once the sauce is at your desired consistency, add the half and half to make the sauce a little creamy.  I don’t have an exact measurement for the half and half because everyone likes a different level of creaminess to their sauces.  I tend to just add a little bit at time, maybe 1-2 Tbs. total.  Add salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!

Zucchini Flower Pizza

Zucchini Flower Recipe #2…pizza.

Zucchini Flower and Carmelized Onion Pizza - LiveDineParty

If I had to choose one food to eat for the rest of my life, I would definitely choose pizza.  When it comes to pizza, I don’t have that thing in your head that tells you “stop eating you are full.”  I’m usually a pretty basic pizza topping person, but the zucchini flowers make this recipe a little gourmet, which I love.  I would just like to note that my husband is one of those people I mentioned that think I’m crazy when it comes to zucchini flowers and he really enjoyed this!

Zucchini Flower and Carmelized Onion Pizza - LiveDineParty Zucchini Flower and Carmelized Onion Pizza - LiveDineParty

Ingredients

  • Pizza dough (I used store bought this time, but if you are feeling up to it, my go to pizza dough recipe from Tyler Florence can be found here)
  • Olive Oil
  • Butter
  • 1 onion
  • 1 large zucchini, diced
  • 7-8 zucchini flowers
  • Sauce
  • Mozzarella
  • Ricotta

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Place a pizza stone in the oven to heat.  If you don’t have a pizza stone, you can use a regular baking sheet, but there is no need to preheat the pan.

In a small skillet melt 1 Tbs. of butter and add the onions.  Cook slowly, stirring until soft.  Add the zucchini.  Cook until onions are caramelized and zucchini is soft.  Place aside.

Roll out the pizza dough.  Place on hot pizza stone, brush with olive oil and put it in the oven.  I like to cook my dough until it is just starting to brown.  This ensures a crispy crust without overcooking the toppings.  Add the sauce, mozzarella cheese, caramelized onions and zucchini.  Place the zucchini flowers on the pizza and dollop ricotta cheese in between the flowers.

Cook until cheese is bubbly and crust is golden brown.  Enjoy and try not eat it the whole pizza yourself! 🙂