Tag Archives: parmesan

Vegetarian Antipasti Risotto with Parmesan Crisps

We know we’re probably making several Italians want to rip our heads off with the title but it does what it says on the tin! We were musing about how fab vegetarian antipasti is, and how fab risotto is and this beauty was born. Apologies for the lack of photos, Bird cooked this while Fats was at the pub and her bird-brain finds it difficult to cook and take photos at the same time…

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 small white onion, very finely diced
  • 200g risotto rice (we use arborio)
  • 150-200ml white wine (we’re sad and don’t drink much white wine in the winter so buy the miniature bottles just for cooking…)
  • Around 1-1.5l stock, either vegetable or chicken
  • 5-6 sundried tomatoes, diced
  • 2 handfuls of frozen broad beans
  • Artichokes from a jar in oil, as many as you like
  • Parmesan and fresh basil to serve

Start off by heating the butter and oil in a large, shallow pan, adding the onion when hot. You want the onion to be really finely diced so that when cooked you can barely tell it’s there. Cook over a low heat for around 5 minutes, stirring almost continuously, until the onion is translucent but not coloured. Tip in the rice, stir to coat in the onions and butter and cook for around 1 minute, then pour in the white wine and let it bubble off. Now start adding the stock, 1 ladle at a time, stirring regularly and don’t add more until the previous addition has completely absorbed. After about 10 minutes add in the diced sundried tomatoes – we didn’t want to add them too early as they are such a strong flavour and could take over.

While you’re doing your regular stock additions now is the time to pod the beans. This step is optional but you won’t see the stunning bright green colour if you don’t and the outer shells can be a little tough. Pour boiling water over the frozen beans in a bowl, give it a few minutes to cool down and for the beans to defrost and then get shelling! It is a bit of a time consuming process but definitely worth it in our opinion.

Antipasti risotto cooking

Taste the rice and when it’s nearly done (should take around 30-45 minutes) add the broad beans and the artichokes to heat through. We made parmesan crisps to go with ours, you can just sprinkle freshly grated parmesan on once it’s cooked but these are fun and add a completely different texture to the dish. To make these just heat a frying pan over a low-medium heat and once hot drop in some little piles of freshly grated parmesan, each one should be about 1 heaped dessert spoon of cheese, and give them plenty of room around each other in the pan. Push down with the back of the spoon to give them a fairly flat shape and then just leave them alone. After a couple of minutes they should be bubbling well and turning golden at the edges so just carefully run a knife/palette knife around the edges to make sure they come off ok and then flip them over! They’ll only take about 30 seconds to 1 minute on the other side, then pop them on some kitchen paper to drain and get even crisper. We smashed ours up and sprinkled the pieces on but you can leave them whole for a more dramatic look.

Parmesan crisps

Fats loved this dish, he’d been struggling to imagine what it would taste like but (and we’re fairly sure this wasn’t the beer talking) he said it was one of the nicest risottos he’s had! Light enough for spring and summer yet comforting enough for winter – a perfect year round dinner.

Antipasti risotto with parmesan crisps

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Italian Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Traybake

It’s been a while since we blogged any Italian food which feels like a bit of a cheat because we love it and usually cook something Italian inspired at least once a week. This is another of our “bung it in the oven” specials (we seem to have a lot of those!), leaving you free to relax after work (or do something dangerously productive). It’s a little similar to our Salmon Traybake, but with a few Italian twists.

Ingredients

  • New potatoes, halved/quartered depending on size
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 large springs of rosemary
  • 6 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
  • Vine tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Asparagus
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Parboil the new potatoes for a few minutes until slightly tender. Once the potatoes are boiling place a large roasting dish in the oven with 1 tbsp of the olive oil in it and some salt and pepper. Drain the potatoes, let as much of the water evaporate as possible and then tip them into the hot oil. Give them a good stir/shake around to get them coated and then put in the oven.

Take the chicken breasts, lay a sprig of rosemary on each of them and then wrap each one in 3 rashers of bacon. After the potatoes have been in the oven for 10-15 minutes and are starting to colour, move them to one side of the dish and lay the chicken breasts on the other side. Coat the vine tomatoes in half the remaining oil, the balsamic vinegar and seasoning and place these in the dish too.

Sometimes it's hard to make raw meat look appetising - not on this occasion!
Sometimes it’s hard to make raw meat look appetising – not on this occasion!

After all of this has had another 15-20 minutes mix the asparagus with the lemon juice, remaining olive oil and seasoning. Tip these over the potatoes in the roasting tin and then, using a vegetable peeler, take shavings of parmesan and place liberally over the whole dish. Use as much or as little parmesan as you like (as you’ll probably know by now, we are cheese obsessed so use plenty!). Leave this to roast for 10 more minutes then take out, throw over a few more parmesan shavings and serve!

That parmesan is gonna melt and be sooo gooood...
That parmesan is gonna melt and be sooo gooood…

We’re big fans of one-pan wonders, and this is definitely one of the best. So easy, really tasty and minimal washing up, so you can put your feet up for the rest of the evening!

Chicken and Bacon