May I introduce you to the petty pan. Yes this strange, yellow, alien-like thing is a vegetable – a summer squash to be exact and a member of the same family as courgettes, butternut squash and pumpkins. My first reaction upon seeing it in my veg box a few weeks ago was – has a flying sauce crash-landed into my cardboard box?
Much research told me it could be cooked in a similar way to many of the squash family but was more like a courgette in taste.
I have to tell you now it was neither unctuous and sweet like a squash nor refreshing and tasty like a courgette – I found it a bit boring to be honest. So what is the point of this post? Well out of this research came quite a delicious meal.
I concluded the best way to cook it would be to stuff it and for filling I plumped for a risotto with some of the scooped out petty pan and some of its cousin the courgette.
The baked petty pan was ok, but the risotto was a triumph. So much so that I cooked it again for Will (who doesn’t usually like risotto) minus the petty pan casing and it went down very well indeed.
Note: I don’t use white wine, as many do, in a risotto as one: I don’t personally like the flavour it gives the dish that much and two: as red wine drinkers we don’t ever have any in the house. If you do like to add some wine before adding the first ladle full of stock go ahead.
Courgette risotto (serves 2)
200g Arborio rice
1 litre of chicken stock (you might need a little more water depending on the brand of rice you use)
One large or two small courgettes, sliced into rounds then each rounds into quarters.
Small knob of unsalted butter
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
Zest of one lemon
Handful of fresh basil
Small amount of freshly grated parmesan
- Fry the onion slowly in the butter, with a splash of olive oil to stop it burning. Then add the garlic and cook for a few minutes more.
- Add the rice to the pan and stir around in the flavoured oil, then add you first ladle of hot stock.
- Continue as you usually would with a risotto gradually add the hot stock and the rice absorbs it and stirring regularly to release the starches (thus making the risotto nice and creamy). It will take at least 20 minutes.
- After about 15 minutes put a separate pan or griddle on, drizzle the courgette pieces in olive oil, salt and pepper and fry quickly until they go brown but still retaining some bite.
- Add the courgettes to the risotto. Taste to check the rice is soft. Once it is soft enough add lemon zest, the roughly chopped basil and parmesan. Stir and serve.