How to live without

Just when I thought I could count on the grocery store having mushrooms, there are no mushrooms. I love Italy for only having what is available, but at the same time it can make it hard to make a menu a few months in advance. Unless of course you are calm, cool and collected like myself–not–or you remember the ant and the rubber tree song soon enough to pick yourself up by the bootstraps and buy zucchini instead, before it is time for dinner. Mushroom risotto is good, but if you make yourself a rich, full of flavor stock with chicken bones, celery, carrot, onion, a little garlic, a bay leaf, some parsley, and a sprig of thyme, an innocent looking zucchini can make magic. Once the stock is ready, saute the onion and garlic until they are completly soft, about fifteen minutes. Meanwhile, get a clove of garlic going in extra virgin olive oil, and add three or four thinly sliced, tiny zucchini. Season with salt, add a basil leaf, and cook them until they melt. To the onions, add a cup and a half of risotto. Stir for thirty seconds. Add a cup of white wine. Reduce to almost nothing, and then add a ladleful and a half at a time of hot stock, waiting until the stock nearly evaporates after each time, until the risotto is al dente. Fold in the zucchini. Turn off the heat. Add a few Tablespoons of room temperature butter, and a handful of cheese. Rip in some fresh basil.

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