MIDWEEK RISOTTO

 

I know that risotto can be a bit divisive because of the involvement required in the cooking process.

 

However it doesn’t have to be as time consuming as you might think if you have everything prepared before you start cooking.

 

 

There are several varieties of rice suitable for making risotto. I generally use Arborio simply because it’s the most commonly available but Carnaroli probably makes a creamier version. I have even used  ‘paella rice’ when this was all I’ve had in the cupboard. The qualities required of risotto rice are plenty of starch and the ability to absorb liquids.

 

With ‘fresh’ frozen borlotti beans in the freezer I decided to use these as the protein element, when cooked they hold their shape and provide a good creamy texture. These are simply simmered in water for around 15 minutes so they are almost cooked before adding to the risotto. Canned cannellini, borlotti or butter beans are a good substitute but be aware that canned borlotti beans can turn any rice dish a bit brown.

I thawed a bag of frozen sautéed green tomatoes, picket several handfuls of fresh rocket and 6/7 cavolo nero  (black kale) leaves from the garden but again you can substitute any or all of these vegetables with whatever you got.

 

 

A tip on substitutes here if you’re using root vegetables I would chop small and pre-cook.

 

If you use something like cauliflower or broccoli I’d blanch the florets at least to soften them before adding to the risotto.

 

As I had 3 small artichokes in the garden I cooked these in boiling water and after removing the outer tougher petals I cut them in half and sautéed them in butter (they were too young to have developed the choke so I didn’t have to worry about removing anything else).

 

You could substitute this with green beans or broccoli.

My list of ingredients:

 

Arborio rice-250-300 grams serves around 4 people so quantity depends on servings required

1 Onion-finely diced

1 clove garlic-crushed

Green tomatoes

Several good handfuls of green leaves (cavolo nero and rocket)

Fresh borlotti beans (cooked)

3 small globe artichokes

Pinch saffron

Lemon juice

Stock

Olive oil

Butter

Rosemary

 

 

Method:

 

Make up a saucepan of stock, as before a couple of good bouillon cubes are fine here as long as they aren’t too salty. I finely shred the kale leaves and add to the stock which should be sitting on the hob at a slow simmer, this allows the kale to cook while you’re making the risotto.

 

First of all sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil, gently softening but not allowing it to go brown. Now add the rice. This needs at least 5 minutes stirring in the oil as this allows the outer coating to start to break down which in turn allows the rice to absorb more liquid. Now add the saffron (classic risotto contains saffron and I tend to always have this in my spice drawer but paprika is a good alternative). Add the finely chopped rosemary, not too much as it’s quite strong.

 

Many risotto recipes will suggest you now add a glass of white wine or white vermouth at this point. It bubbles and squeals and adds a depth of flavour but I didn’t have any to hand on this occasion so I left it out.

 

The trick with risotto is to add the stock one ladle at a time stirring continuously until each ladleful is absorbed. After the first few ladles of stock I add the thawed tomatoes, the cooked or canned beans and the artichokes. The kale will cook quickly and you can add this along with each ladleful.

 

Keep added the stock, stirring as you go because encourages the rice to absorb the liquid and stops it catching on the pan. When all of the stock is absorbed and the rice is cooked you can stir in some parmesan to make it even creamier however I rarely have parmesan so if I feel it need cheese I use whatever I have in the fridge bearing in mind you don’t want to overpower the flavours. At the end stir in the shredded rocket and serve.