Dinner/ Italian recipes/ Lunch/ One-pot recipes/ Pasta/ Vegetarian

Courgette, Lemon, Leek, Mint & Wodka Risotto with Toasted Almonds

27 July 2023

A lovely summer risotto, full of amazing flavours and textures: silky courgettes, zingy lemon, fresh mint and crunchy almonds. You really can’t go wrong with this one.

The wodka I used instead of wine to deglaze the pan, basically because I didn’t have an open bottle of wine but I did have an open bottle of wodka, so I thought: Why not! And it worked like a charm.

Usually white wine is added to risotto to emphasize the flavours already within the sauce without adding its own, but other alcohols will work too. For example wodka, dry sherry or gin.

Courgette, Lemon, Mint & Wodka Risotto with Toasted Almonds

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Dinner, lunch Italian
By Saffron Serves: 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes Cooking Time: 40 minutes Total Time: 50 minutes


  • 350 g risotto rice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 knob of butter (leave out if keeping it vegan)
  • 1-2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 small leek, finely chopped
  • 2 large courgettes, halved lengthwise and sliced into 5 mm slices
  • 150 ml wodka
  • 1.5 liter stock (vegetable or chicken), make sure it's hot and just simmering
  • 50 g parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Big handful fresh mint leaves, thinly sliced
  • Pepper & salt to taste
  • To serve
  • 2 tbsp sliced almonds, toasted
  • A drizzle of olive oil
  • A squeeze of lemon
  • Finely chopped fresh soft herbs like parsley or chives



Heat the stock in a pan so it's ready to use when needed, the secret to good risotto is hot stock!


Heat the olive oil and butter in a large sauce pan and add the shallots, celery and leek and a pinch of salt.


Sauté on medium heat until softened, ± 3 minutes, then add the garlic. Sauté for another 2 minutes.


Add the courgette and stir to coat.


Sauté for 2-3 minutes.


Add the risotto rice and stir to coat it all in the oil. Let it sauté fir 1-2 minutes.


Deglaze the pan with the wodka and scrape all the goodness from the bottom of the pan. Let it simmer for 1-2 minutes to let the alcohol evaporate.


Add a ladle of hot stock to the rice and stir, let it bubble away on medium heat until all the liquid has been absorbed.


Repeat until all the stock has been absorbed and the rice is cooked through, this will take about 25 minutes. If the risotto is too thick add a drop of water now and then to get your desired consistency, I think I added about a cup.


In the meantime toast your sliced almonds in a dry frying pan, ± 2-3 minutes.


Just before serving add mint leaves, the parmesan cheese and the lemon zest. Mix well until the leaves have wilted.


Taste and season with pepper and salt. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon and the toasted almonds over the top.


Serve with a fresh salad on the side (for example with this Lemon Vodka Vinaigrette salad)

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