zucchini and yellow pepper risotto with A BASIL BONUS


So I have recently begun working, by which I mean I have a real job that leaves me exhausted by 6pm and yearning for sleep by 10. Somewhere along the line between unemployed vagrant and underpaid (but profoundly grateful) teacher, I lost the time I used to spend chopping vegetables to my couch and tired feet. I realize that this is my own fault: granola bars and coffee do not a lunch make 5 days a week. I've been burning out because I'm just not feeding my furnace, so here's a recipe I'm returning to in a time of nutritional need. I used to make this for special occasions, but risotto is actually one of the best things for me to eat for lunch as my version is packed with nutrient rich vegetables and the benefit of fresh herbs, satisfying carbs and dairy protein. Besides, risotto is one of those rare foods that actually benefits from a microwave, or can be eaten cold, which suits my noontime cravings just fine. Also, sometimes I buy a whole basil plant and can't keep it alive so I just eat it, in this :)

FYI this is a little time consuming, and I would set aside an hour to do it, but it' worth the wait for the long term gain :) And it's an impressive dish when you're done, not to mention totally delicious.


  • 4tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 zucchini. diced generously
  • 1 large yellow pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 1/2 cups dry risotto
  • 4 tbsp dry white vermouth
  • 7 cups vegetable broth, simmering
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter or margarine, room temperature
  • EXTRA LARGE handful (or entire plant) of fresh basil, torn roughly
  • 1 cup (freshly) grated parmesan cheese (I know it's expensive, but the real stuff will make such a different with the basil, it's really worth the extra dollar to buy a block of reggiano and grate it yourself)

Heat half your oil in a large skillet on high. When it's super hot, but not smoking hot, toss in your zucchini and peppers, and stir fry them for about 2-3 minutes, until they're starting to get a wee bit golden brown (gauge by the zukes, not the peppers). Add your garlic and stir it all together to fry for about 30 secs, then remove it all to a separate plate and set it aside for a spell.

Heat the rest of your oil in a heavy pot (this will eventually hold everything, so account for about 7 cups of rice); add the chopped onion and cook, stirring, until soft, which usually takes a good 2-5 minutes IMO. Add the risotto and cook it all together, stirring so it doesn't stick, for another vague 2-5 mintues (you want your risotto to become translucent, which has taken a wide range of times in my experience). Make sure the risotto is well coated with the olive oil.

Pour in your vermouth (delicious); let it bubble and steam away - this is its job, and I promise, not a waste of your vermouth :) Add ladleful by ladleful of hot almost boiling stock to your risotto pot, stirring each ladleful until it is absorbed by the rice. Do this until all your stock is finito. This should realistically take about 20-25 minutes. The rice will get creamier and tender, but should still be firm (think al dente pasta). It will get a little tough to stir.

When this is done, stir in your pre-cooked veggies, along with any of their escaped juices. Add in the butter/margarine, basil (LOTS OF BASIL) and grated parmesan, stirring gently (but forcefully, for the cheese spreadage). When mixed, drizzle with oil if you like, garnish generously with EVEN MORE BASIL(!) and serve hot.

Makes about 6 girl sized servings.

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3 Response to zucchini and yellow pepper risotto with A BASIL BONUS

January 17, 2011 at 10:22 AM

Just read this recipe again and it sounds delicious!! Just a quick question: for those of us who don't necessarily have vermouth on hand, what can we replace it with?

January 18, 2011 at 11:09 AM

Experts say you can substitute dry white wine in a pinch, but to avoid Chardonnay when substituting for vermouth. I am now convinced this blog needs a side bar or category called "substi-stuting"

February 7, 2011 at 9:36 PM

Oh my! this was absolutely delicious!! Thanks Amanda!! :D

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