This vegetarian (vegan optional) Sweet Corn and Zucchini Risotto is SO good, I’ve made it twice in the past two weeks. It’s such a great way to enjoy two of the best summertime vegetables! A few tricks cause the zucchini to melt into every bite while still maintaining a great texture, and also help to infuse the corn flavor into every bite. I could eat this every day.
This zucchini risotto is the result of a new tradition I’ve started.
Since Ella was born, things have been a bit… chaotic around here. Turns out, having two kids under two is not exactly a calm, relaxing experience. Who would’ve thunk?
Zach and I have been craving calm, quite adult time, and I’ve been feeling bogged down with keeping up with the blog.
So we decided that once a week, I’d make a yummy dinner for just me and Zach to enjoy after the kids go to sleep. It’s *almost* like going on a date. And the biggest part of our new tradition is that I’m not allowing myself to blog about it!
I love cooking, but it’s a bit different when you know you have to make the food look gorgeous, take photos, and document everything you do for a blog post.
Not that I’m complaining. I love, love, love my job.
So once a week, I’m cooking for the pure joy of cooking, and Zach and I get some quiet alone time. It’s been AMAZING!
Last week, I made this corn and zucchini risotto. And I didn’t photograph it or blog about it, as per the rules. But it was SO GOOD that I HAD to make it again this week to share with you all!
I think I’ve been a bit obsessed with zucchini lately- last week I posted about this sautéed vegetable and goat cheese naan pizza (with zucchini and bell peppers), and a few weeks ago it was this crustless ham and zucchini quiche. I think that’s because it’s been easy to get my 16-month-old daughter to eat it, since it absorbs so many other flavors.
I love this risotto recipe because the vegetables are the stars. And the risotto is perfectly creamy and comforting. Here’s what I did to get that perfect consistency and let the vegetables shine.
Here are two things I did to make the zucchini really, really, ridiculously awesome.
- I grated the zucchini. This means the pieces of zucchini are about the same size as the pieces of rice, so everything mixes together in a seamless way. My daughter gobbled it up since the veggies were more “hidden,” and each bite ensures you get a balance of rice and zucchini.
- I added the zucchini toward the end. Adding it in the beginning would cause it to turn too mushy. After 15 minutes of cooking the rice, the zucchini is added. The liquid is released from it, and reabsorbed into the rice, just like the chicken or vegetable stock you are using. It helps incorporate the flavor into the entire thing and ensures a cooked, but not mushy, texture.
You can use frozen corn or fresh corn for this corn and zucchini risotto recipe. But I recommend fresh. Here’s why.
After removing the kernels from the cob, I added the cobs into the hot broth as it heated. Corn cobs are full of flavor and starch. This helped infuse the broth with corn flavor and enhanced the creamy consistency of the risotto. This is an especially good idea if you are making a vegan version of this zucchini risotto recipe (see notes) by omitting the parmesan cheese- the added starch will help make it extra creamy and delicious.
Or, you can do a mix of frozen and fresh, which is what I did the first time I made it. Frozen corn can be a bit sweeter than fresh, so this way, you get the best of both worlds.
Making a Super Creamy Corn and Zucchini Risotto
I used arborio rice to make this risotto recipe. It’s the traditional rice used in risotto, and it’s extra starchy which helps create that creamy, comforting texture.
If you’ve never made risotto before, it’s actually super easy to do. The only thing is it requires a lot of stirring- you can’t just leave it on your stove to cook and go do other things. You’ll need to pay attention to it (but it’s somewhat calming and meditative to make it- something about all that stirring).
It’s worth it. Trust me.
You’ll have two pots on your stovetop- one for the stock (I used chicken, but you can use vegetable, or even water in a pinch), and one for the risotto. As you cook the rice, you’ll ladle a little bit of hot stock in at a time, stirring it into the rice mixture, and continuing to stir until the liquid has been absorbed by the rice. Stirring constantly helps release the starches of the rice to make the risotto super creamy.
After the risotto is done cooking, if you aren’t making a vegan version, you’ll add some parmesan cheese in as well, which will add a ton of salty flavor and make it even creamier as it melts.
For serving, I recommend drizzling some more extra-virgin olive oil on top, some fresh parsley, cracked black pepper, and extra parmesan cheese, if you’re using it.
And one more thing- this sweet corn and zucchini risotto makes excellent leftovers. You can make it in advance and take it in your lunch all week long, or serve any leftovers you have for brunch with a fried egg on top (YUM).
If you like this recipe, you’ll love this Zucchini Ribbon Salad with Lemon, Parmesan, and Pine Nuts.
Here’s the printable recipe! Enjoy :-)
Sweet Corn and Zucchini Risotto
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup arborio rice or other type of rice, see notes
- kosher salt to taste
- black pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup dry white wine such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc
- 4 cups chicken stock/broth more if needed, or vegetable broth, or water
- 3 medium zucchini grated (about 1 1/2 pounds)
- 2 ears corn kernels removed, cobs reserved (or 1 cup frozen sweet corn)
- 3/4 cup parmesan cheese grated (omit for vegan/dairy free option)
- 1/4 cup parsley chopped
- extra parmesan cheese, olive oil, black pepper, and chopped parsley for serving (optional)
- Put chicken or vegetable stock in a medium pot. Add the corn cobs (minus the kernels) to it (skip this if you are using frozen corn). Bring to a boil, turn heat down to keep hot throughout the recipe over very low heat.
- Meanwhile, heat olive oil (2 tablespoons) in a large, deep, heavy skillet, pot, or dutch oven over medium-high heat.
- Add onions and sauté until softened and beginning to brown (about 5 minutes).
- Add garlic, stir until fragrant (about 30 seconds).
- Pour the rice (1 cup) into the pot, stirring occasionally, until it's coated in the oil and a little bit toasted (1-2 minutes).
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the wine and stir constantly until liquid is almost all gone.
- Add 1/2 cup of the hot chicken or vegetable stock and stir constantly. Once liquid has been absorbed by the rice, add 1/2 cup more stock, continuing to stir frequently, but not all the time. Repeat this for about 15 minutes, keeping heat on medium to medium-high.
- After 15 minutes, stir in the grated zucchini and corn, along with 1/2 cup more stock. The zucchini will release liquid- keep stirring until the liquid has released and the rice has absorbed most of it (about 10 minutes).
- If needed, continue adding stock 1/2 cup at a time until rice is fully cooked. Taste it along the way to check!
- Once rice is fully cooked, remove from heat. Stir in grated parmesan (3/4 cup) and chopped parsley (1/4 cup) and stir frequently until cheese has melted. Adjust seasoning as necessary.
- Serve drizzled with a little more extra-virgin olive oil, a sprinkling of parmesan, some fresh cracked black pepper, and extra parsley.
- Arborio rice is traditional for risotto. It's super starchy, making a creamy consistency. You can use another kind, but keep in mind cooking times- brown rice, for example, takes a VERY long time to cook, so you might want to parboil it in advance. And do NOT rinse your rice, as this will remove some of the starchiness that makes it creamy.
- Traditional parmesan cheese may not be suitable for a strict vegetarian diet because it contains animal rennet. Look for a suitable vegetarian substitute, such as a parmesan made with plant rennet.
- Serving suggestion: this Sweet Corn and Zucchini Risotto is amazing with fried eggs on top! Perfect for brunch the next day if you have any leftovers.
- The provided nutrition information does not include any added sodium from seasoning to taste, any optional ingredients, and it does not take brands into account. Feel free to calculate it yourself using this calculator or by adding the recipe to Yummly.
- Large pot