How do you know the end of summer is near? Because it is cold in the mornings, that’s how. But how do you make yourself still enjoy the last days of this, for most people favourite season? With food that reminds you of sea and freshness, and good times. The shrimp risotto recipe I’m about to give you is in the sweet spot. Summery and fresh, but still filling enough for the colder days September can throw at you.
Still, this shrimp risotto recipe needed to be in style with this blog – meaning it is allergy free. It is one of those dishes that traditionally do not utilise nuts, dairy and eggs, which is great because it means there is no need for adaptations. Although mods are fun, some days it is nice to know you are having “the real deal”.
When I told my husband we will be having a shrimp risotto, the first thing he asked was, are we having it Asian, or Mediterranean style. Asian is great, with its coconut and strong spices that add to the already strong prawn taste. But the Mediterranean is more tender and hides another ace up its sleeve, which I will give you later.
What would the main difference between these two, my favourite ways to prepare shrimp be? Both are heavy on garlic, both are creamy and utterly delicious, but one uses wine, and the other one strong spices. This time, it was time for a more homey version – Mediterranean.
The secret ingredient in the shrimp risotto recipe is… zucchini!?
I think I should give you the secret ingredient and its function upfront, so you know what to expect. The secret ingredient is, like the subheading said, a zucchini. We all know that a zucchini has no particular flavor nor texture (when prepared like this), but it does have one ting and i has a lot of it – water in little cells that will create the fake buttery creaminess. We can’t have butter, remember?
Water isn’t always bland and bad. You can also look at it as a supplier of freshness and this is just the function it covers in this recipe.
- 500g shrimp or prawns (never buy just the meaty tails, allways the whole beast!!)
- 1 leek
- 1 medium size zucchini
- 4 cloves of garlic
- olive oil
- 300g of rice
- 2dl dry white wine
- 1dl water
- fresh parsley
Chop leeks and garlic, and finely grate the zucchini. Pour 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a big pot or an even bigger pan and heat it on high.
Now, work and think fast: add garlic and in just a few second the whole prawns. Always use whole shrimps, never just the meaty tails. Do not be squeamish about it, because most of the really nice taste hides in the head and gut of these insects of the seas. Enough said, just trust me.
Do not add the prawn too late, or this shrimp risotto recipe won’t be one of your favourites because of the bitterness the burnt garlic will produce. Stir for a minute and add leeks and zucchini. Stir again.
In another minute, add rice, leave the heat on and “roast” the rice beans with other ingredients for another minute or so.
When rice starts looking kind of translucent, pour in the wine, if you managed not to drink it so far, and water. Now cook your risotto for a few minutes and then and salt and pepper to taste.
Monitor your cooking process and pour in additional water if needed. You want to end up with a kind of wet risotto, with rice beans that still have a lot of texture. You want it “al dente”, meaning you can feel it when you bite through it. When you think you are near this sweet spot, but not there quite yet, cover the pan or pot, and turn off the heat. Wait for 10 minutes, add chopped fresh parsley (which I didn’t this time) and serve.
Mantecatura? WTF? Isn’t that milk?
Another secret of a great risotto is mantecatura. Traditionally, it means adding grated Parmesan cheese and stirring before serving, but since cheese is dairy – it is not an option for us. If you tolerate dairy, make your taste buds a favour and by all means – add the cheese! If you can not have dairy, don’t start crying. Add 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (this time, be a big snob about olive oil and only use the absolute highest quality). You won’t end up with a similar taste as if you used cheese, but it also won’t be worse. Lighter, fresher… just different. But absolutely gorgeous.
This is so tasty that the shrimp peeling won’t even be a pain in the you know what. A shrimp meal is always special, and well worth getting your hands dirty.
We cook by this shrimp risotto recipe a lot. Even if it is winter, cooked whole shrimp can be bought at any supermarket, and you can treat yourself with a little reminder that the summer is just a few months away.