zhoug risotto with fresh tomatoes, onions, and za'atar

it might be risotto season. i don't know, i don't really go outside these days unless it's to see macaroni or to pull an onion from the ground. minnesota is at its peak buggiest. so everything i know about the weather, i know from your tweets or what eggboy tells me about it (or i smell it on him). the two have kind of been giving me conflicting results these days because apparently it's hotter than hot in new york but cool enough to avoid sweating in other places (like here). but by my calendar, fall is around the corner and that means risotto season! so, here: your green light to go stand above a stove for 45 minutes. 

this risotto is inspired by the yemeni lahoh stand in tzfat that i love so very much. lahoh is a sour flatbread, similar to injera, and at this particular stand, they top it with cheese, za'atar, tomatoes, onions, fresh herbs, and zhoug. zhoug is a suuuuuper spicy yemeni condiment that is dangerously hot but also oddly refreshing because a lot of it is made up of fresh cilantro and parsley. i really like it on all things, but i avoid saying the word "zhoug" out loud at all costs because it is by far the most difficult word i've ever tried to pronounce. you have to inhale and exhale at the same time and do some acrobatics with your throat to really get it down. i'm working on it. i just tried googling a pronunciation video to show you but it doesn't look like there are any online... one day i'll periscope my zhoug pronunciation practice sessions, or something. 

zhoug is super easy to make. you just put a bunch of stuff in a blender, you don't even have to rip any herbs off of their stems. and then whatever you don't use for this recipe, you can store in the fridge for your morning eggs or you could even freeze it into little cubes and defrost it bit by bit.

so this dish is indeed what would happen if a yemenite and an italian got together and made a food baby. and whyyyyyy the sudden italian influence? (other than i love risotto and risotto season is here?) i'm going to tuscany! with davinci wine! just for a bit, i'll be back by beet harvest, but alana and brandiego and rebecca and i are headed off on saturday to be davinci wine storytellers and i am so gosh darn excited. after seeing celeste's tuscany photos from when she was a storyteller, i couldn't not go. so here i am, packing all of my dark colored clothes to allow for plenty of wine stains, and they're also stretchy to allow for pizza and pasta and, yes, risotto!

zhoug risotto with fresh tomatoes, onions, and za'atar

makes 2-4 servings


4 c chicken broth

1/4 c olive oil, plus more for serving

1 small onion, finely chopped

kosher salt

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 c arborio rice

1 c davinci pinot grigio

1 c shredded parmesan, plus more for serving

2 tb zhoug (recipe below), or to taste

black pepper

chopped fresh tomatoes, chopped fresh onions, fresh cilantro and/or flat leaf parsley, and za'atar, for serving


5 jalapeños, deseeded

4 cloves garlic

1 bunch flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

1 bunch fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/4 tsp cayenne

a good pinch of salt

1/4 c olive oil


bring the chicken broth to a low simmer and allow it to stay simmering while you prepare the other ingredients.

in a large pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes. add rice and cook, stirring, for a few minutes until it is slightly toasted. add one cup of broth and cook, stirring, until it is absorbed into the rice. repeat this process with the remaining 3 cups of broth and the cup of wine. 

stir in the parmesan cheese and zhoug. taste and add more zhoug, if desired, as well as salt and pepper. spoon into bowls, drizzle with olive oil, and top with tomatoes, onions, fresh herbs, za'atar, and more cheese. enjoy with davinci pinot grigiot!


to make the zhoug:

put all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend until it has the consistency of pesto.

store leftovers in the fridge for a few days, or freeze.



as a davinci wine storyteller, this post was created in partnership with davinci! follow along on my travels with #davincistoryteller!