Zucchini and Saffron Risotto

4 Servings

35 minutes

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Risotto often is considered a time- and labor-intensive dish, but made using a simplified technique we learned in Milan, Italy, the rich, creamy rice can be on the table in under 45 minutes. This vegetarian risotto, a riff on a recipe from “Rachel Ray 50,” gets its vibrant color from saffron-infused cooking liquid and is studded with chunks of green zucchini that have been briefly sautéed. Either Arborio or carnaroli rice works, though the former likely is easier to find in supermarkets.




Don’t be shy while stirring the risotto. Rather than cook the rice gently, we stir it vigorously—and simmer it briskly—to help release the starch in the grains, resulting in creamy consistency in minimum time.

35 minutes


  • 1

    tablespoon finely grated orange zest, plus 2 tablespoons orange juice

  • ½


Leanne G.

Made this last night to use the first zucchini in the CSA box. I resisted the urge to tamper with the recipe, so made it exactly as written. It was okay, but would have been much better with the addition of a shallot or two with the zucchini, some chicken broth and a little white wine.

Elizabeth H.

I’m allergic to cows milk and oranges. Can I substitute lemon or lime juice for the orange juice. If so what would the proportions be? Also would it be better to increase the olive oil or use margarine in place of the butter?

Lynn C.

Hi Elizabeth -

You could substitute with lemon zest and juice. I would keep the amount of zest the same but, at the end of cooking when you add the lemon juice, I'd start with 1 tablespoon and then taste. Since lemon is more acidic than orange you want to make sure it's not too tart. For the butter substitution, you can replace it with margarine or olive oil. Margarine will add a little more creaminess, olive oil will add better flavor. Your choice! Good luck!

The Milk Street Team

Martin W.

Delicious! I would advise not chopping the basil until the risotto is cooked to prevent oxidation. Flavors are lovely and surprisingly deep. Loved it.