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Risotto Vernazzolana with basil and king prawns
Risotto Vernazzolana with basil and king prawns

This dish is inspired upon a basil infused green risotto I once ate at a seaside restaurant in Genoa called Santa Monica. I had a bunch of fresh spinach and a few prawns left in the fridge plus a beautiful bunch of freshly picked basil from the nearby town of Pra.  I was afraid that the spinach may over power the basil, so I put some aside to decorate.  The combination of fresh sweet basil with fresh spinach was actually much better than I had expected however adding the torn fresh basil leaves on top of the dish is an absolutely improved culinary experience. In fact, I think this may be one of my favourite risotto's ever with its bright green colour contrasted by bright pink prawns, I could even imagine this topped with a piece of salmon.  Be sure to clean  your prawns, remove the shell but leave the tail.

 

Ingredients:
  • 350 grams carnaroli rice
  • 12 cooked prawns 
  • 120 grams fresh spinach
  • 120 grams of green zucchini peels
  • 1 handful of basil leaves
  • 50 grams Gran Padano or Parmigiano cheese
  • 50 grams of butter
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 1 glass of white wine
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 handful of basil leaves to decorate
  • olive oil
  • salt
Recipe steps:
  1. Clean your prawns leaving just the tail. 
  2. Put a pan of salted water on top and bring to boil.
  3. Peel the zucchinis, we'll only be using the green peel.
  4. Add 120 gram spinach leaves and 120 gram zucchini to the boiling water peel and briefly blanch them. Drain in the vegetables in a colander.
  5. Combine a dash of olive oil, a handful of fresh basil and the cooked, drained vegetables and mix (preferably with a food processor) to obtain a nice smooth green sauce.
  6. Put a high-sided frying-pan risotto on the stove, cover the bottom with a layer of olive oil and fry the chopped half onion until it's slightly glazed but not yellow. 
  7. Add your risotto rice to the pan and allow to fry in the oil, stirring constantly.
  8. Once your rice is nicely warmed and glossy throw in a glass of wine. Turn down the heat and allow the rice to boil in the liquid.
  9. Keep boiling just below boiling point, while stirring, add in the stock. Spoon by spoon, the stock should remain warm.
  10. After about twenty minutes the rice should be lucid and the liquid quite creamy.
  11. Add a knob of butter to the rice and stir until dissolved.
  12. Now add the cheese to your smooth green sauce and stir well.
  13. Remove the risotto rice from heat and stir in the green sauce.
  14. Cover the pan and let it rest.
  15. Cook your prawns any which way you choose (I usually fry them in oil) until they are nice and pink. 
  16. Serve the risotto in a deep plate, drape a handful of fresh basil leaves and finish off by placing a few prawns in the centre.