Toward the end of summer, I’m scrambling to use up my outdoor herbs before they succumb to frost. Mint, basil, chives—they’re going in everything. This also applies to the beginning of summer when I’m excited to have fresh herbs at my fingertips again!
As a Chicago dweller, I grow herbs in pots on my patio. They don’t get tons of sun, but they manage to survive anyway. The one herb that doesn’t just survive is mint. It THRIVES. If you have a black thumb, I’d suggest a mint plant, which can bounce back from overwatering, underwatering, and lack of sun. It grows like crazy!
This is my mint plant. It was all but dead a month ago after sitting in a lot of water for weeks due to poor drainage. But it’s back!
The mint plant was the inspiration for this Zucchini Risotto with Basil, Mint, and Feta. The herbs and flavors pair so nicely together. I even surprised myself with how much I loved the flavors together. 🙂 We used it as a side dish with grilled chicken thighs, but it would be a hearty vegetarian main dish, too. And it’s perfect for using up the last of the summer herbs!
Risotto can often get a bad rap for being fussy or time consuming. I promise it’s not. While it takes a bit more effort than say, a pot of rice, it’s entirely worth it.
I started this Zucchini Risotto by sautéeing sliced zucchini in olive oil. Once the zucchini were almost tender, I added finely chopped shallots and sautéed those until they were translucent.
The next few steps are unique to risotto. I added the rice and stirred it for about a minute, letting the remaining oil soak into the rice. Then I poured in ½ cup of Pinot Grigio, and let that cook off.
I once took a cooking class on risotto from an Italian woman, and this was my biggest takeaway. As you are adding the stock, you always want to see puddles of stock in the rice. If it’s too wet or too dry, you’ll miss out on the starch developing around the rice, which is what creates a creamy risotto.
Here’s what it should look like as it cooks (note the “puddles” of stock):
While you don’t need to stir it constantly, stirring it every 1–2 minutes will also make for a creamy risotto. The rice will be slightly al dente once the last of the stock has soaked into the rice.
The final step is to stir in the herbs and feta. I reserved a little bit of each for garnish.
While it’s not on my usual dinner rotation, Zucchini Risotto is one of those dishes that is perfect for guests, or a date night at home. I opted for the latter when I served it, but it’s also on my list of recipes to make when vegetarian guests come over.Print
Zucchini Risotto with Basil, Mint, and Feta
This is a hearty vegetarian main dish or side dish that’s packed with flavor!
- Prep Time: 10
- Cook Time: 30
- Total Time: 40
- Yield: 3–4 servings 1x
- Category: Side Dishes
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: American
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced into ½ inch thick slices
- 2 small shallots, finely chopped
- 2 cups arborio rice
- ½ cup white wine (like Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc)
- 4 cups (1 quart) vegetable stock + 1 cup water
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Fresh ground black pepper to taste
- ½ cup crumbled feta, plus more for garnish
- Heat vegetable stock and water in a small saucepan until it reaches a simmer.
- Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the zucchini, and cook until almost tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add the shallot and cook for 2 more minutes.
- Add the rice and stir to coat the rice with the remaining oil. Cook for 1 minute. Pour in the white wine and cook until the wine is almost evaporated.
- Reduce heat to low. Add 1½ cups of the warm vegetable stock to the sauté pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the puddles of stock have disappeared (the rice should still be surrounded by liquid). Add another ladle or two of stock, until the rice is just covered again. Repeat, stirring occasionally, until all of the stock has been added to the rice and the rice is al dente.
- Remove from the heat. Stir in the chopped basil, chopped mint, and ½ cup of feta cheese. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with additional feta. Serve immediately.
Note: While it’s a nice addition, the white wine is not a must. If you don’t have it or don’t wish to use it, sub ½ cup vegetable stock for the wine.
Keywords: zucchini risotto