RECIPES:
May 25, 2022

Summer Vegetable Risotto with Bacon and Crab

Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 45 mins
With squash, corn, spinach, bacon and crab, this risotto is a great entrée for a summer night.

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This summer vegetable risotto began as a “clean out the fridge” meal where I threw everything I had in my crisper drawer into a creamy dish. It turned out to be a hit so I refined it, adding fresh chopped herbs and crab meat to complement the summer produce.

This veggie packed version of risotto is inspired by spaghetti alla Nerano, in which some of the sautéed zucchini is blended with pasta cooking water to create a flavorful sauce. In this dish I blend half the zucchini and summer squash with a little cream to create a creamy and flavorful risotto. 

Summer Vegetable Risotto with Bacon and Crab 

Key Ingredients in This Recipe 

  • Arborio rice – Arborio rice is the most common variety of rice to use for risotto. The Italian, short-grain, white rice has a high starch content making the perfect creamy risotto.  Substitute it with another starchy short-grain variety like Carnaroli or Vialone Nano if desired, though Arborio is the most accessible. Don’t rinse risotto rice before cooking as you would when preparing other rice dishes. You don’t want to lose any of that starch!
  • Bacon – I cook the bacon in the same pot the risotto is made in. The rendered fat is used to sauté the onion and rice, infusing the dish with smokey flavor. 
  • Squash – I use both zucchini and summer squash in this recipe though one or the other can be used. I sauté the squash, then blend half of it with a bit of cream and water to create a flavorful sauce to fold into the rice dish. 
  • Corn – I use frozen corn in this recipe though fresh corn cut off the cob can be used instead. If using fresh corn, cook it for a few minutes longer until it softens before continuing with the recipe. 
  • Spinach – While it seems like a lot of spinach it cooks down significantly. Swap with kale or collard greens if needed. 
  • Crab – I prefer to use a high-quality crab like lump crab in this recipe. Lump crab meat comes from broken pieces of jumbo lump crab (the most expensive type) and large chunks of body meat. It’s slightly less expensive than the jumbo grade but still has great flavor and a bright color (should be white to slightly off-white). 

How to Make Summer Vegetable Risotto

Step 1: Cook the zucchini and yellow squash.

Heat a large nonstick skillet or large sauté pan over medium heat, add the oil and heat through. Sauté the squash, working in batches if needed, as to not overcrowd the pan, about 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the cooked squash to a bowl and set aside, continuing with the remaining squash.

Step 2: Add the remaining vegetables.

Return the pan to heat, add the corn and heat through, then add the spinach and allow to wilt, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Step 3: Make the zucchini sauce. 

Add ½ the zucchini and squash mixture to a blender with the cream and ¼ cup water. Blend until smooth. Set aside.

Step 4: Cook the bacon.

Add the bacon to a large pot and heat over medium heat. Cook the bacon until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crispy, about 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon, reserving about 3 tablespoons (reserve any remaining fat for another use).

Step 5: Sauté onion.

Return the pot to heat then add the onion and sauté until tender, about 4 minutes. Add the rice and sauté briefly to toast the grains, about 1 minute.

Step 6: Add wine to risotto.

Lower the heat to medium-low and add the white wine and stir constantly until the wine is almost completely absorbed.

Step 7: Simmer risotto.

Add the broth ½ cup at a time, stirring frequently and waiting for each addition to be almost completely absorbed before adding additional broth. The mixture should be at a simmer the whole time. Continue this process until the risotto is just barely al dente, about 15 minutes.

Step 8: Add zucchini mixture. 

Add the blended zucchini mixture to the risotto, stirring to combine. Continue to cook until the risotto is al dente and thickened, about 5 minutes.

Step 9: Assemble risotto and serve. 

Stir in the sautéed vegetables, cooked bacon, herbs and crab. Ladle into warmed serving bowls and serve immediately.

Tips and Tricks for This Recipe 

How to Make This Risotto Vegetarian 

To make this recipe vegetarian simply omit the bacon and crab. This summer vegetable risotto base makes a great vegetarian entree!  

Swaps and Substitutions 
  • Try adding confit tomatoes if you have them on hand.
  • Frozen corn can be swapped for fresh kernels of corn cut off the cob. If using fresh corn, plan for about 1 ear of corn. 
  • The vegetable stock can be swapped with chicken stock or in a pinch, water, though it won’t be as flavorful.  

Other Recipes to Try

If you enjoy this risotto recipe, I recommend checking out these:

Summer Vegetable Risotto with Bacon and Crab

Print Pin
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced into half moons
  • 1 medium yellow squash, thinly sliced into half moons
  • 1 cup sweet corn
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 pound bacon, cut into ½” wide strips
  • ½ medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups vegetable broth, warmed
  • ¼ cup basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons diced chives
  • ½ pound lump crab meat

Instructions:

  • Heat a large nonstick skillet or large sauté pan over medium heat, add the oil and heat through. Sauté the squash, working in batches if needed, as to not overcrowd the pan, about 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the cooked squash to a bowl and set aside, continuing with the remaining squash.
  • Return the pan to heat, add the corn and heat through, then add the spinach and allow to wilt, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Add ½ the zucchini and squash mixture to a blender with the cream and ¼ cup water. Blend until smooth. Set aside.
  • Add the bacon to a large pot and heat over medium heat. Cook the bacon until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crispy, about 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon, reserving about 3 tablespoons (reserve any remaining fat for another use).
  • Return the pot to heat then add the onion and sauté until tender, about 4 minutes. Add the rice and sauté briefly to toast the grains, about 1 minute.
  • Lower the heat to medium-low and add the white wine and stir constantly until the wine is almost completely absorbed.
  • Add the broth ½ cup at a time, stirring frequently and waiting for each addition to be almost completely absorbed before adding additional broth. The mixture should be at a simmer the whole time. Continue this process until the risotto is just barely al dente, about 15 minutes.
  • Add the blended zucchini mixture to the risotto, stirring to combine. Continue to cook until the risotto is al dente and thickened, about 5 minutes.
  • Stir in the sautéed vegetables, cooked bacon, herbs and crab. Ladle into warmed serving bowls and serve immediately.

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