Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Spring Has Finally Sprung - Risotto alla Springtime in Oregon

I probly shouldna dun it. But I did. I could not help myself..... And I'd do it again...

Normally I am a very patient individual, obsessive compulsive, but still fairly patient about it, at least on some things. I know it doesn't make a lot of sense. But this evening's meal is a perfect example...
I have been patiently waiting to get my grubby little hands on Zucchini Blossoms for years now, mainly because it reminds me of my farm boy roots in the "wilds" of Oregon. Well, my patients finally wore thin this spring, and I now have a couple of 20 inch pots on my patio, with Zucchini squash plants...

I have also been patiently waiting to acquire some morel mushrooms. Yes, the ever elusive Morel mushroom... In my humble opinion, the epitome of mushroomdom, white truffles from Alba aside, followed closely by the Bolete family (which includes porcini). Although this is up for some debate... Not because morels aren't tasty. But "mushrooms" are actually a very ancient organism, but morels didn't appear until the last ice age. They are actually a genetic mutation of yeast, not the bloom of a subterranean fungus like most mushrooms.

Mycology lesson aside, I was blessed this weekend, just by chance. I was at Whole Foods, looking for the first figs of the season, when mine eyes beheld a tiny basket full of atrociously priced Morel mushrooms... IN SoCAL... Who'd a thunk it? I broke down...
Morels are a quintessential flavor of spring, at least to an Oregonian farm boy. So I bought 5 medium sized mushrooms, which came to less than 1/4 lb (Thank GOD!) I always forget they are lighter since the stem is hollow.

This brings me to tonights meal. I had two problems....
  • I had Morels and they NEEDED to be used before they went bad (they don't last long in captivity) and they had to be in a dish where their flavor would not be masked by ANYTHING.
  • One of my Zucchini had started blooming, well, 1 bloom was open this morning... This meant it was time to do something with it, for once picked, they don't last long in captivity either...
So I attacked my poor zucchini plants, picking 2 of the male blossoms that were ready, and two others that really weren't, but they were close enough. None of the females are opened yet, so I hope another male opens before then so the zucchini will actually develop... Oops... (the zucchini in the picture came from Trader Joe's)

But it was worth finally giving in to my base instincts... well at least my "gatherer" instincts. After all, there isn't much game to hunt in the city, except maybe a skunk or two (yuck!).
I decided on Risotto ai Fiori di Zucca (Zucchini Blossom Risotto)... With Morels added. Yes, Yes, Yes. Absolutely delicious...!! I was SO pleased.

The light flavor of zucchini from the blossoms (cause they taste like zucchini, just fainter) and nutty yet sultry earthiness of the morels (They really are almost as incredible as white truffles). It tasted just like spring, at least to an Oregonian Farm boy. Now all I need are some Fiddleheads (and some more morels, or course) ;)

Risotto ai Fiori di Zucca e Fungi Morel

1 Shallot, minced
3 TB Olive oil
10 Morel Mushrooms, sliced into rings
1 cup Arborio or Vialone Nano
3/4 cup Prosecco (warm); Divided
2 3/4 – 3 1/2 cups Vegetable Stock; Simmering
8 Zucchini Blossoms; Thinly sliced
3 TB Grana Padano; freshly Grated
3 TB Unsalted butter
Salt and Fresh Ground Green Pepper to taste

Gently Wash the blossoms, removing the stems and pistils,

pat the blossoms dry and slice thinly and set aside.

Slice morels and mince the shallot.

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat and sweat the shallot for 2 minutes.

Add Morel Mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes.

Remove Shallot and Morels from Pan, leaving flavored oil

Add the rice and cook, stirring, until the grains have become translucent; about 4 minutes.

Add 1/2 cup of the warm Prosecco and stir until absorbed

Begin adding the broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until each addition is absorbed.
When the rice is almost done, about 3 minutes remaining, stir in the zucchini blossoms and the Morel/Shallot mixture.

When rice is al dente, remove from heat, stir in the Grana Padano and Butter.

Cover and let stand for about 5 minutes.
Remove cover and stir in the remaining 1/4 cup warm Prosecco.

Season with Kosher Salt and Fresh Ground Green Pepper.

Serve immediately and swoon....

Oh, in case you were wondering what happened to the little zucchini I had sliced up... I was originally going to add them, but decided to serve them on the side.

After a brief sauté in a little butter. ;)



Ciao Chow Linda said...

That risotto is a marriage made in heaven. Any left over?

Michele said...

Cool post! I love how you served the risotto in the lemon cups. I never had morels before. I don't think they are included in the package of assorted mushrooms.

Heather S-G said...

It's all beautiful!! My neighbors went foraging a couple of weeks ago and brought home a HUGE basket of Morels...and passed them out. It was like heaven!

Dajana said...

Absolutely lovely and delicious, both the combination of ingredients and serving idea.
When I left for Croatia, one week ago, my zucchini plants had two leaves each. I came back and found them all in bloom. A dumb question, how do you distinguish male from female blossoms, I've never grown zucchini before?
Aren't those yellow round zucchini that you used to serve risotto in? I've only seen green ones before.

Shane T. Wingerd said...

Linda - Sadley, no.. :( I only made 1/2 batch. I wish there I had made a whole one.. LOL

Michele - Thank you.. :)

Girli - oooo How Lucky!!!

Dajana - Thanks, The male blossoms have a normal stem, the females have the zucchini squash as a stem. Yep they are yellow globe zucchini, I found them at the farmers market :)