CORN AND SAFFRON RISOTTO
Corn and zucchini are in full swing right now and I am using both these fresh ingredients in every way possible! I just made some corn and zucchini fritters for dinner, which were mexican inspired, with flavors of smoked paprika, chilli powder, mexican oregano, jalapeno, cilantro, onions and it was SO GOOD! Sometimes all you require in the summer evenings is a light dinner with fresh ingredients!
One of my favorite recipes from my blog is this Corn and Zucchini Handvo, that I bake as little rectangular cakes. I serve it with a mango salsa and the whole combination screams summer, and is so delicious! Full of flavor, perfectly seasoned and a feast for the eyes and senses!
I grew up eating a lot of corn. Growing up on Juhu Beach in Mumbai, and my parents home situated on the beach, we had buttawallas or corn vendors sitting on the beach in those breezy evenings, throughout the year, serving butta or corn, doused in lime, red chilli powder and salt – that’s it. Biting into that sweet corn with all those flavors was an absolute delight – something that I miss a lot being here! The corn is cooked on a charcoal grill or sagdi as it is known in Gujarati or Hindi. The charcoal gives a wonderful smokey flavor to the corn.
My kids love risotto and I make it quite often, using the produce that is in season at that time. I made this lovely corn and saffron risotto with zucchini ribbons for the family and it was a huge hit.
BROTH USED FOR THE RISOTTO:
I made a vegetable broth for the risotto, with the scraps of the shallot skin, garlic, dried basil, dried thyme, and the corn(with the kernels off), by boiling it for 20 minutes, and then straining the mixture and using that as broth for the risotto. For the sake of this recipe, and to keep it simple, I have called out for vegetable broth. You could add the corn simmered in it, to impart more flavor.
Risotto is really easy to make. It involves constant stirring to ensure that all grains get equal attention. You start with arborio rice, which is a starchy rice that comes from Italy. I get the arborio rice from Amazon, linked here, since I make a lot of risotto at home.
You start off with crisping the rice in olive oil and butter, along with shallots and garlic. The whole process involves slowly adding warm broth to the rice, such that the rice absorbs it slowly, and releases its starch and gets cooked in the process. You will see that the rice goes from translucent to getting white and plump as it gets further along in the cooking process. You want the rice to be al dente, meaning just cooked. There should be a slight bite to it when you eat it.
I add saffron to the risotto, which gives it a mild floral fragrance, and it works excellent with corn as well. I finally top off the risotto with freshly grated, good quality parmesan to make it more creamy and delicious! To serve, I top it off with grilled zucchini ribbons that have been seasoned simply with salt and pepper. This combination is SO GOOD and one of the best risottos that I have made in a while!
I always make extra risotto, because my kids love arancini! Arancini is made with leftover risotto that sits in the fridge for a day. They are shaped into little balls, covered with beaten egg, and panko bread crumbs and fried to perfection! You can add a bit of mozzarella cheese in between but it is not necessary! I love serving the arancini with a calabrian chilli mayo! The combination is fantastic and super addictive!
I do not have the recipe of the arancini here, since I used the leftover risotto to make it. I simply eye balled how much egg, flour and panko bread crumbs I needed for the arancini. Serve with a chilled glass of chardonnay and it makes for a wonderful appetizer/snack!
If you do make the risotto recipe, please do not forget to tag #thejamlab on Instagram and/or leave a comment here on the blog.
Hope your summer is going swell!!
Corn and Saffron Risotto
Leftover risotto can be made into arancini the next day.
- Corn and Saffron Risotto:
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 small shallot finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, grated
- 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 1 ½ cups of fresh corn kernels
- 4-5 cups of warm vegetable broth (Keep the broth to simmer on low heat, in a saucepan, on another gas stove, along with the cob of the corn(with the kernels removed))
- ¼ teaspoon of saffron
- 2 tablespoons salted butter
- 1 1 /2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons of basil chiffonade
- 3/4 cup parmesan cheese
- Grilled Zucchini ribbons:
- 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
- A zucchini, sliced into thin ribbons
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tbsp basil chiffonade
- Freshly grated parmesan2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Corn and Saffron Risotto:
- In a large 12 inch skillet, on medium-high heat, add the olive oil.
- Mix saffron in a small bowl with about 2 tablespoons of the broth. Set it aside.
- Now sauté the shallot and garlic for about 5 minutes until translucent, reduced and soft.
- Add the arborio rice. Sauté the rice with the spatula for atleast 5-7 minutes until the rice looks translucent.
- Next add the white wine and keep stirring until the wine disappears.
- Add the corn and saffron in broth, and stir for about 2 minutes.
- Add the butter and mix.
- Add ½ cup of broth at a time, and keep stirring until the water is absorbed by the rice. Repeat the process, until all the broth has been used. This process takes about 15-20 minutes. The rice should be al dente, meaning there should be a slight bite to it when you taste it. It should not be mushy(which means you overcooked it!). Add the fresh basil, black pepper and parmesan cheese, and mix well.
- Plate the risotto into the bowls. Garnish with basil and more parmesan. Garnish with the grilled zucchini ribbons on the top.
- Grilled Zucchini ribbons:
- Brush zucchini ribbons with olive oil.
- In a separate grill skillet, on medium heat, add the zucchini ribbons, a few at a time (as much as can fit on the grill skillet). Drizzle salt and pepper on the top.
- Grill for about 2 minutes per side and repeat on the other side. You will get grill marks on both the sides.
- Place zucchini ribbons on the side, until ready to plate. Best served while they are hot off the grill.