Being a certified carnivore and a very enthusiastic cook, I like the weekly challenge I give myself to find a gorgeous vegetarian meal for the whole crowd. I’ve discussed the benefits of having a meat free day before but for those of you who’ve missed it the shortened version is it’ll save you a bit of cash and vegetarian meals are lower in saturated fats and often quite a lot lower in kilojoules so they are good for your waistline too. This recipe has been on high rotation in my house for quite a while as it fits the bill for meat free Monday but also beautifully compliments the flavour of a nice piece of firm white fish if you’re so inclined. The preserved lemons give a punch of lemony salty flavour and the bright green of the zucchini make this dish a good looker as well. If you can’t find any preserved lemon at the supermarket, you should be able to pick up a jar at your local deli. They are well worth scouting around for and they last for quite some time in the fridge once they are opened…plus I have lots more recipes for you to use them in so they definitely won’t go to waste.
Making your own risotto can be a bit of a daunting prospect for some but although it can be time consuming…there is a lot of stirring involved….in terms of actual skill requirement it’s really not as difficult you’d imagine. I’m also a firm believer that the person who is spending this much time in the kitchen solely for the benefit of others (well yes, the cook does get to eat dinner too but still, you’re feeding the rest of the starving hoards) should have some kind of recompense for their sacrifice. As it happens, this dish contains 1/2 a glass of white wine which is stirred through almost at the beginning. My recommendation would be to polish off the other half (and perhaps a bit more because who is counting really..it’s just you and the kitchen) while you are stirring your way to risotto greatness.
By now you should all know my rule…. “every main meal must be accompanied by a big side dish of something green and vegetable like”. So make sure you serve this dish with a big bowl of leafy greens.
This one's gluten free.
- Prep Time : 10 minutes
- Cook Time : 30 minutes
- Yield : 4
- Zucchini - 2, grated
- Preserved lemon - 3 quarters or wedges
- Onion - 1, finely diced
- Garlic - 3 cloves, crushed or finely chopped
- Arborio rice - 1 cup
- Extra virgin olive oil - 1 tsp
- White wine - 1/2 cup
- Chicken stock - 1 L
- Parmesan or pecorino cheese - 50g finely grated
- Serve with a big leafy green salad
First pop the chicken stock in a pot and bring to the boil and then lower to a simmer. The stock will be kept at this temperature as it is gradually added to the rice.
To prepare the wedges or quarters of preserved lemon use a sharp knife to slice the flesh and the pith from the rind then rinse under cold water. The lemons are preserved in salt and the rinsing will remove some of this, they still have a beautiful strong flavour though so when you have finished removing the flesh and rinsing, slice them very finely so this flavour will be dispersed throughout the dish.
To prepare the zucchini, I grate it into a clean chux cloth or piece of muslin and then scoop up the edges of the cloth so it forms a small bundle. Give it a good squeeze to let most of the excess moisture out and then set aside.
Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan over a medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 2-3 minutes until soft and translucent, add the garlic and stir through for a further minute until fragrant. Add the arborio rice to the onion and garlic and stir through to coat the grains with the oil then cook for a further 1-2 mins.
Add the white wine and stir until the liquid is absorbed. Add a ladle or 2 of the warm chicken stock to the rice and stir until that liquid is absorbed. Continue adding the stock a ladle or 2 at a time, constantly stirring, until all the stock has been used and the rice is al dente or just cooked. Stir through the zucchini and the preserved lemon and 1/2 the grated parmesan or pecorino. Taste and season with salt and pepper if required.
Divide the risotto between 4 plates, top with the leftover cheese and serve with a big green leafy salad to add even more vegetable points to your meal.