Monday, 29 July 2013

Summer Risotto

I am quite excited, as this is truly the first dinner I have ever made from scratch with absolutely no recipe of any type to follow (spaghetti bolognaise does not count!).

The raw ingredient
We never have risotto, mostly because you normally think of mushroom risotto and I always find that a little one-dimensional and bland - all mushroom flavour and nothing else.  Although I was well aware that I have a bag of arborio (risotto) rice lurking at the back of the cupboard. I actually dragged it out recently to make rice pudding (honestly, the absolute easiest dessert I have ever made, ever. Just possibly a bit unseasonal in July!) so I was reminded of it. And I am also sick to the back teeth of our summer menu. We have alternated tuna salads ever other week (the pasta one and a nicoise), a lot of BBQ food and a lot of stir fries have been eaten, and frankly it is all getting a little predictable. I have been longing for some different vegetables, but our usual repertoire of semi-veggie midweek dinners are a bit heavy for the warmest July in about a million years.

So I hit on a plan to do a risotto. Asparagus and courgette were the main flavours I am went with today, but being me I have also added bacon bits and used chicken stock - of course it would be the simplest thing in the world to leave out the bacon and use a good vegetable stock instead and then you have a proper vegetarian meal.

Another thing I love about this is that is a total movable feast, based on what vegetables / meat / fish you have to hand.

Here's the concoction I came up with tonight; experiment and enjoy your own version!

  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • Slightly less than 1 stalk of celery, diced
    Fresh green veg, frying
  • Half a 125g pack of bacon bits
  • 1 x 125g pack of asparagus tips, chopped into pieces about an inch long (halved, once you take the woody bottom off)
  • Half a courgette, cut into batons
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • A handful of frozen peas (well, I intended to include them, but it turned out that we didn't have any!)
  • Arborio rice - 75g of uncooked rice per person
  • About 1 litre of chicken stock, made with 1½ chicken stock cubes and boiling water
  • Oil, for frying
  • Plenty of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to serve
  • You also need a deep frying pan
  1. Start by heating some oil in the pan to a medium heat, then add the onion and celery and start to
    Getting a nice sheen, as the starches release
  2. Add the bacon bits and asparagus (I like to keep the heat reasonably high for this, so the bacon and asparagus gets a bit charred around the edges) and fry
  3. Add the courgette and garlic (I add the garlic last, so it doesn't burn)
  4. Add the rice and give the whole thing a good stir, so the rice gets nicely coated with the oil (this is actually really important, to ensure the rice releases it's starch properly so the whole thing thickens - according to Himself, anyhow, and as he has been head chef in an Italian restaurant, who am I to argue?!)
  5. Start to add the stock, ladle by ladle, keeping the rice moving (my pan is non-stick, so I didn't have to completely stand over it, but you do need to keep it moving). Let it simmer, then add the next ladle-full of stock (I don't have a ladle, I used a pyrex jug)
  6. Keep going until most of the stock has been added. It should take about 15 or 20 minutes (I find that the full 20 minutes recommended on the pack leaves the rice slightly overdone for me). How much stock the rice absorbs can depend, so as you get near the end taste as you go to see if you need to use it all or not
  7. If I had peas, I would have stirred them in with just a few minutes to go
  8. Serve in pasta bowls with lashings of freshly grated Parmesan
Ready to serve, just add parmesan cheese

The whole thing took less than half an hour to make from scratch and it was really delicious and satisfying, risotto really does fill you up. I will be experimenting more over the next few weeks with lots of different vegetables and flavours, it is a great meal and can be adapted for any season.

Sarah xx

No comments:

Post a Comment