Risotto

Why do we consider pasta to be easy and versatile but risotto to be challenging? Italians, the masters of both, don’t see it this way. “Every conceivable vegetable, seafood, and meat can go into risotto,” says my sumptuously illustrated copy of Venetian Taste. “The frugal Venetian does not hesitate to stretch a bit of leftover into half a meal by amplifying it with rice.”

I have often eaten delicious risotto, but my first memorable one was in Venice, turned deep violet-black by cuttlefish ink. Although replicating this particular pairing is nearly impossible stateside, the pale, creamy rice dishes colored by local vegetables and various spices are well within reach. All you need is to start with the right rice and then adjust your standard technique for cooking it. The rest, as the Venetians would say, is due volte più gustoso.
Learn to make Fresh Improv Risotto and Sunshine Risotto

Zucchini

Zucchini and yellow summer squash—if you don’t grow it, you’re bound to know someone who does. It’s as versatile as it is prolific: grilled, baked, pickled, fried, sautéed—the list goes on.

But besides pickling it, how do you save it? Grate and freeze is my choice: you won’t want to feature it on a plate, but it can be used in a range of recipes year-round. Grating is particularly ideal for zukes that seem to go from inches to feet long overnight. The recipes here use fresh ingredients for a light in-season meal featuring zucchini pancakes and cucumber-and-tomato salad. You can as easily adapt it for winter using frozen produce and different preserved accompaniments. Learn to make Zucchini Pancakes and Fresh Asian Salad