Recipe: Wild Cod Risotto, Summer Days, and Esino Bianco

There’s something about eating good food outdoors that makes me feel utterly alive and happy.  It may be the fresh air cooling my shoeless feet or the sound of pouring cool Esino Bianco into a wine glass (have questions about wine, click here).  Ultimately, however, it’s the wonderful homemade food that makes outdoor dining so enjoyable.  
We have a small glass table on our deck that is cooled by a large umbrella and we take most of our meals (including morning coffee) under the large green umbrella.  At times we set the table and get fancy but most days it’s a few small wine glasses, bread from Sullivan Street Bakery, and a few simple dishes from the kitchen.  Here’s a recent Wild Cod, Squash, and Zucchini risotto recipe that I particularly enjoyed out on our deck / patio:
Wild Cod, Zucchini, and Squash Risotto 


Who says you can’t enjoy risotto in the summer?  The trick to enjoying risotto in the summer is to use light and fresh ingredients (click here to find out how to buy fresh produce at your local market).  Here’s what you’ll need for the above seafood risotto:

–  ¾ pound of wild cod (or any local, wild, fish; freshness is more important than wild, but try to find local caught fish whenever possible)
– 1 white or red onion finely diced
– 1-2 small yellow squash
– 4-5 sprigs of Italian parsley
– 1 large zucchini
– Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
– Salt and pepper to taste
– Olive oil (see my guide to olive oil)
– 1 tablespoon of red pepper flakes
– 1.5 cups of good dry wine
– 2-3 cups of warm water
– 2-3 tabs of salted butter
A good risotto starts with Arborio rice.  Look for brands imported from Italy and expect to pay a premium for this superb starch (a little goes a long way).  Begin by sautéing a finely diced red onion in a large pot and thereafter add your cubed zucchini, squash, and salt and pepper to taste.  Cook the vegetables until they become translucent and remove to a large bowl.  Next, add a bit more olive oil and sauté the Arborio rice until the kernels become translucent (this will add tremendous flavor to the dish and also start the cooking process for the rice).  Next, add the vegetables (along with the red pepper flakes) back to your pan and add a splash of white wine (for deglazing) and enough warm water (if you have stock available substitute for water) to cover the ingredients.  Bring the ingredients to a boil and reduce your flame to a simmer.  At this point you’ll need to constantly stir the mixture and add one ladle of warm water every 5 minutes or so (or whenever the ingredients are not covered by liquid).  After about 10-15 minutes you should start to see the Arborio rice release it’s starch and the kernels begin to plump up.  The total cooking time should be between 30-45 minutes.  At the 30 minute mark be sure to taste the rice kernels (you don’t want al dente rice); once the rice is done add a bit more salt and pepper to taste, a few tabs of butter, and some freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano.  Mix the rice well and add your cubed wild cod and freshly chopped parsley.  Mix the ingredients well and put a lid on your pot and let the ingredients sit for a few minutes (the cod will cook in minutes).
The above fish risotto went extremely well with an Esino Bianco from Italy.  Esino is a white wine made from 80% Verdicchio and 20%, every day, Trebbiano grapes.  The wine has nice acidity, sour flavors, and light enough for hot summer day.  Plus, try the Moncaro 2005 Esino Bianco for $7.99 via Queen Anne Wines.


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  2. Ciao Vince! I LOVE risotto any day of the year. Here on the Amalfi Coast they make risotto with the scent of lemon and a touch of cream. I find it lovely in the summer! Thanks for sharing this recipe. It’s definitely one I’ll try out!

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