Risotto is a delicious, easy and versatile Italian dish that makes a great change from having pasta all the time. It’s not the quickest meal, taking around 45 minutes from start to finish, but a good one for the weekend when you’ve got a bit more time. Once you have a basic base recipe, you can add any flavours you wish – great for using up leftovers! This variation with pea, mint, courgette and lemon is wonderfully light – perfect for the summer months with a glass of white wine. I’ve also got another delicious variation of this recipe for Roasted butternut squash, red onion & goats cheese risotto
Tips for making a great risotto:
– be patient
– keep an eye on the heat, the rice should be continuously simmering after the first stock addition
– use a white wine that you would happily drink. There is no such thing as cooking wine! If you don’t like the flavour of a wine as a drink, there’s no way it will taste good once you’ve cooked off the alcohol and intensified the flavours even more. Plus with this recipe you can have a glass while your waiting for the risotto to cook!
– try not to hang around, eat it quickly before it dries up!
– season your risotto after you have added all the stock and the parmesan. Stock cubes and parmesan are high in salt, so its best to adjust the seasoning once it has all been added to prevent over seasoning
Basic risotto ingredients (for 2):
- 200 g risotto rice (I use Arborio)
- approx. 600 ml vegetable stock
- 175 ml white wine
- 1 white onion
- 1 garlic clove
- 50 g parmesan (Parmigiano-Reggiano)
- knob of butter
- sea salt & black pepper
Extra ingredients/ toppings (for 1):
- 1 courgette
- vine tomatoes
- 100 g frozen peas
- 10 fresh mint leaves, finely sliced
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small lemon, zest and juice
- Preheat oven to 190°C / 170°C fan.
- Place the vine tomatoes on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, then set aside until needed.
- Prepare the courgette by slicing into wedges at an angle and set aside.
- Finely chop the white onion and garlic then add to a saucepan over a low heat with a knob of butter. Sweat the onions and garlic in the butter with a lid on for 5-6 minutes, until soft and translucent. TIP: the aim here is to sweat, not fry. If the heat is too high they will burn and the risotto will become dark and bitter.
- While the onions are sweating, make up your stock with boiling water in a sauce pan and leave to stay warm over a very low heat. Measure out your white wine and risotto rice.
- Once the onions have cooked, turn the heat up a little and add the risotto rice. Cook the rice for 30 seconds to absorb the liquid in the pan.
- Add the white wine and boil off the alcohol. Its done when there’s only a small amount of liquid left in the pan and you can no longer strongly smell the alcohol in the steam. TIP: if you don’t have a gas hob, reduce the heat again now while the alcohol is cooking off, to allow for the time delay.
- Reduce the heat to a low setting, add a small ladleful of the hot stock, stir through and leave to simmer.
- Once the rice has nearly absorbed all the liquid, add a little more, stir through, and leave to simmer again. Continue this process of adding the stock little by little to cook the rice (approx. every 3 minutes).
- After 10 minutes of simmering, place the tray of tomatoes in the oven to roast.
- After another ten minutes, and the frozen peas to the risotto and start frying the courgettes over a medium/high heat in a griddle pan (or frying pan if you don’t have one) with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Flip the courgettes half way to colour evenly.
- Continue cooking for approx 5-10 more minutes until it’s soft with a small amount of bite in the middle (approx 25-30 mins in total). TIP: As the rice cooks it will release starch and form a creamy sauce coating the rice. Do not cook all of this off before adding more stock otherwise the risotto will become to dry. The final risotto should be silky and fairly loose in consistency, but not runny. When it’s plated up there should be no excess liquid around the perimeter.
- Once the rice is cooked, remove from the heat and stir in the grated parmesan, lemon zest, lemon juice and sliced mint. Taste the risotto, then season with more sea salt if necessary and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Top with the griddled courgettes, roasted tomatoes, a little more grated parmesan and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.