Zucchini and sausage risotto

Umbrian autumn view

I am sure there must be an ancient proverb saying: add good sausage to your food and it will be delicious. I do apply this with restrain so that I can still fit through the doors. It works every time.

As you know, in Umbria we worship sausages. The good ones.
Mass-produced sausages are made with inordinate amounts of fat and up to 60% of their weight is water. If you cook those sausages in a pan they will release a puddle of heart-clogging liquid.

I buy sausages from my fabulous local butcher whose father raises a small number of pigs with natural feed. When these sausage sizzle, they release a mouth-watering BBQ-like aroma which attracts Google (our dog) from 100 m away. They sausages have just enough fat to cover the morsels in a thin gleaming coating. I like to think that such good fat does not deposit so heavily on the hips. I know it’s an illusion.



  • 300 gr (3/4 lb) fresh sausage. Umbrian sausage is seasoned with garlic and black pepper.
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 3 zucchini, diced
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 lt / 5 cups low-salt chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 small onions, diced
  • 2 cups arborio, vialone nano or carnaroli rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


Sauté the zucchini in 1 tablespoon olive oil until they are cooked through and very lightly brown. Make sure to use a relatively large pan so the zucchini will cook quickly and will not boil in their own moisture.

Add small pinch of salt, 1 finely minced clove of garlic and a few torn basil leaves, stir quickly and as soon as it is fragrant transfer into a bowl and cover to infuse.

Add one additional tablespoon of olive oil to the same pan, 1 diced onion, 1 teaspoon fennel seeds and the sausage meat torn into small pieces. Sauté over medium-high heat until cooked through, breaking up the sausage pieces with wooden spatula, about 10 minutes. Deglaze with 1/4 cup white wine. Switch off heat and keep covered until ready to serve.

Add the rice and stir for 1 minute. Increase the heat, add the rest of the wine and cook until absorbed, stirring often, about 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of broth and simmer until the liquid is absorbed, stirring often, about 4 minutes. After this initial stage you can continue to cook the risotto, adding more broth by ladlefuls and allowing the liquid to be absorbed before adding more, stirring only after each addition of broth.

When the rice is tender season to taste. For extra creaminess stir in  1 additional tbsp of  cold diced butter. Stir in the zucchini, the sausage, 2 tablespoons Parmigiano and 1 last ladleful of broth. Cover and wait for 5 minutes before serving. Serve, passing the remaining Parmigiano separately.

Serves 2-3


  1. I love the photo with Assisi rising above the fog. It is rare that we see fog in or near Brisbane. Whenever I see mist/fog, it reminds me of Europe.
    Recipe sounds great.

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