Lemon Basil Risotto with Zucchini and Corn


In the summer I try to not spend much time cooking over a hot stove, but for a special occasion — like my first year wedding anniversary — I make some exceptions.

Aside from the beautiful location and having our family and friends together to witness and join in the celebration of our marriage, one of our favorite parts about our wedding day was the food. It was one of my top priorities and we spent a lot of time looking over our menu choices for the cocktail hour and the main reception dinner.  One of Adam’s favorite foods is risotto. He really looked forward to and highly enjoyed the risotto station during cocktail hour and still laments that he did not have enough time to have a second serving.

Enjoying our first plate of food as a married couple during the cocktail hour, "cheersing" with lamb chops.

Enjoying our first plate of food as a married couple during the cocktail hour, “cheersing” with lamb chops. Photo courtesy the next soon-to-be Zalko

On the Saturday of our anniversary weekend, we went out to dinner to a local French restaurant, Latour.  As an appetizer I had a luscious seafood risotto made with lobster, scallops and shrimp. This dish, combined with the memory of the risotto from our wedding day, inspired me to make risotto the next night, for our actual anniversary dinner. I wanted to highlight fresh summer produce to create a rich side dish to compliment decadent filet mignons.


I love fresh zucchini and corn and often eat them raw. To keep the textures small but interesting, I shredded the zucchini and chopped the corn off the cob, breaking the kernels apart. I added them during the last minutes of cooking to keep them bright and crunchy. I braved the rain storm to pick some fresh basil from my porch and zested a lemon to bring the dish together.

Lemon Basil Risotto with Zucchini and fresh corn

The result? I think I cooked the best meal I’ve cooked in long time. I was quite proud of myself. It was worth the one cup of coveted chardonay wine I bought last summer from Brooklyn Oenology and the calories from the butter and pancetta were a distant memory while devouring our dinner. The steaks were a perfect medium rare, kept simple with only salt and pepper and the risotto made each of us go “mmmm” at every bite.

Served as side dish, this recipe makes a lot of risotto, but never fear, risotto makes great leftovers that won’t leave you disappointed to eat the same thing at least twice in one week.

Lemon Basil Risotto with fresh corn and zucchini - serifandspice.com

Lemon Basil Risotto with Zucchini and Corn

  • 4 Tbs butter
  • 1/2 cup shallots, finely chopped (about 2 whole shallots)
  • 4 oz. Pancetta, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups of Aborio Rice
  • 1 cup of dry, white wine
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 ears of fresh corn, cut from cob
  • 2 zucchinis, shredded
  • 20 basil leaves, cut into ribbons (chiffonade)
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

While chopping your vegetables, heat 5 cups of chicken broth in a covered sauce pan over low heat.

In a heavy bottom pot or dutch oven, saute pancetta, shallots and butter over medium low heat until shallots are translucent, but not brown.
(Note: Your kitchen will start to smell heavenly at this point)

Add rice and stir coat rice with butter and lightly toast. Turn heat to low and pour in wine. Cook for two minutes.
(Watch out, your kitchen will start to smell even better at this point. You may have the irresistible desire to pour yourself a glass of wine. Go ahead, do it )

Add salt and pepper, and 2 full ladles of simmering stock. Stirring often, simmer to let liquid reduce until rice appears a little dry, about 5-10 minutes. Add two more ladles of stock.

Repeat this process each time the rice appears a little dry. As the rice cooks, it will give off its starches, making the risotto creamy. Continue adding broth, remembering to stir often, and cook until rice is cooked through but still slightly al dente.

When the last ladles of broth are added, add in corn, zucchini, basil, lemon zest and parmesan cheese. Stir to combine and let the last bit of liquid absorb while the vegetables lightly steam.

Serve immediately and enjoy.

Photo | Steve Belner, Photovisions | photovisions.com

Cheers! • Photo by Steve Belner, Photovisions • photovisions.com

Did you notice something new on this post? I’ve finally bought my domain name, http://www.serifandspice.com! In the next few weeks, also keep an eye out for a new logo designed by me.

12 responses to “Lemon Basil Risotto with Zucchini and Corn

  1. This is one of the most gorgeous, fresh and beautiful risottos I’ve ever seen. I normally find risotto difficult to eat as I despair over the lack of vegetables (a friend of mine once gave me a whole bowl of four cheese risotto for dinner, which was delicious but way too monotonous after my sixth spoonful) but this one is perfectly balanced and so wonderfully glossy. Love your wedding photos too… you looked beautiful! Love the two contrasting ‘cheers’, hahaha!! (P.S yay for the new domain name! Can’t wait to see your logo!) xx

      • Definitely, it’s gone so fast! It’s scary and wonderful at the same time 🙂 Thanks for the early congrats lovely (we’re planning to dig our top wedding cake tier out of the deep freeze, haha) x

    • Thank you, Laura! Yes, one thing I really liked about this risotto was the freshness. Sometimes risottos can just feel so weighed down with it’s richness. The basil and the lemon really brighten it back up and I really liked my decision to keep the veggies crisp. I love the cheers picture too because it really captures Adam and I. Before dinner many nights we often “cheers” our forks together right before our first bite 🙂

      • You definitely get the full idea of the freshness from your gorgeous photos 🙂 Love the cheers tradition! It’s great that you both captured it in your wedding photos also!

  2. Congratulations on buying your own domain name! I have been thinking of doing the same? What do you think of it so far? This recipe looks delicious!

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