Over lunch yesterday, I came across a new Italian expression, Risotto All’Onda. At the time, I was serving a classic Marcella Hazan rice soup, or rather a minestra which, to be truthful, was more like a wet risotto. A soup or a wet risotto, I commented, knowing that this distinction is not particularly relevant to those from the Veneto region in Italy. Alberto, a visitor from Lombardy in Italy, then related the story of his prozia, or great-aunt, who uses her brodo (stock) rather liberally when making risotto, earning the comment ‘all’onda!!!’ in a disparaging way from her husband, who had a preference for a drier risotto. Drier risotto is the preferred style in Lombardy, Piedmont and Emilia-Romagna. It has a stickier texture and can be plated rather than served in a bowl. Alberto’s family continues to describe a wet risotto in this way, to recall their late prozio’s reaction to wet risotto, risotto’all’onda!!
As it turns out, risotto all’ onda is a common enough term for Venetian style risotto, ‘all’onda‘ meaning that the finished product should ripple like the ocean current, yet maintain its classically creamy consistency. It should be liquid enough to make it pourable. Carnaroli or Vialone Nano rice are the preferred varieties for a wet style risotto: also using smaller pan when cooking helps to maintain the moisture.
The following recipe is an adaptation of Marcella Hazan’s Minestra di Sedano e Riso or rice and celery soup, from the Classic Italian Cookbook, 1980. I have replaced the celery with zucchini, given the continuing summer glut. The method of this soup is rather interesting, with half the zucchini pureed, adding a lovely green cremoso texture to this minestra/soup/risotto.
Minestra di Zucchini e Riso- Zucchini and Rice Soup.
- 2-3 small zucchini, diced
- 6 tablespoons EV Olive Oil
- half small onion, finely chopped
- 25 g butter
- 200g rice, preferably Carnaroli or Vialone Nano
- 500 ml of stock or one stock cube dissolved in the same quantity of water
- 3 Tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley.
- Wash the zucchini, finely dice,. Put the zucchini, olive oil and salt in a heavy base saucepan and add enough water to cover. Bring to a steady simmer, cover, and cook until the zucchini is tender. Turn off the heat.
- Put the chopped onion in a heavy based saucepan with the butter and saute over medium heat until pale gold but not browned.
- Add half the zucchini to the saucepan with the onion, using a slotted spoon. Saute for two or three minutes, stirring, the add the rice and stir it until well coated. Add all the broth.
- Puree the rest of the zucchini, including all its cooking liquid, with a stick blender. Add this puree to the saucepan containing the rice.
- Bring to a steady simmer, cover, and cook until the rice is tender but firm to the bite, around 15- 20 minutes. Watch and check that it doesn’t catch as some rice absorbs stock too quickly- you may need to add a little more to make it ‘all’onda’.
- Stir in the grated cheese, turn off the heat, add the parsley and mix. Serve at once! This dish should be eaten immediately before it turns too soft. Make it only just before you are ready to eat!
I’m with Great Aunt Carla when it comes to risotto- I love it ‘all’onda’, nice and wet, rippling with little currents from the sea of broth.