Tag Archives: risotto

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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Pea and King Prawn Risotto

We know that it’s almost the middle of December and it’s pretty chilly around here. And we know that this is much more of a summer dish, but risotto is pretty comforting all year round and sometimes you don’t feel like a heavy dinner. Pea and prawns is a classic combination – we kept this light, it has no cheese in it and the peas and prawns are only added at the end so the risotto is subtly flavoured with white wine and lemon zest and then the burst of freshness comes from the chopped herbs at the end. You could stir in some crème fraiche or soft cheese at the end to add extra richness but we found that ours was creamy anyway just from the starchyness of the rice.

If you manage to serve this with a little more delicacy than we did then this could make a very elegant course for a dinner party. This recipe would make plenty for 4-6 people as a starter but like the pigs we are we ate the lot!

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion or 2 shallots, very finely chopped
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • 200g Arborio rice (or other risotto rice)
  • 1 glass of white wine
  • About 1.5l of weak chicken stock (we used 1 stock cube in total)
  • 3-4 pieces of lemon zest
  • Frozen peas, as many as you like – we used about 200-300g
  • Raw king prawns, either frozen and defrosted or fresh
  • Mixed soft herbs, we used mostly parsley with a little mint and dill, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to season

Heat the oil and butter in a large frying pan/skillet. Add the finely chopped onion/shallot and the dried thyme and cook over a very low heat for around 10 minutes until completely translucent but not coloured. You’ll need to keep a fairly close eye on these and stir them regularly as you don’t want them to stick or colour. Stir in the rice after this time and cook in the butter for a minute or so, then pour in the white wine and add the lemon zest. Season lightly at this stage.

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Keep stirring until all of the wine has been absorbed and then start adding the stock, ladle by lade, stirring regularly and not adding the next ladle until the previous has been completely absorbed. This process will take about 30-40 minutes until the rice is cooked so after about 20 minutes tip the frozen peas into a bowl and cover with boiling water to defrost. Let them stand for a minute or so and then drain and add to the risotto.

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Taste the rice to check it is cooked but still with some bite and when you’re happy with it add the prawns, these should take around 2 minutes to turn beautifully pink, you don’t want to overcook them! When they’re ready stir in most of the chopped herbs and adjust the seasoning. Serve up and sprinkle with the remaining herbs and salad if you wish.

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Enjoy! We love making risotto, some people find it a faff but we find it very relaxing just taking the time and care over it, and you’re rewarded with such a lovely meal!

Butternut Squash, Brown Butter and Sage Risotto

Carrying on with our autumnal meals, this really does taste like autumn on a plate to us! Squash obviously is an autumn treat, and paired with the nutty brown butter and the earthy bittersweet sage leaves it is exactly what you want after digging out your scarves and hats and kicking some autumn leaves around (or the less romantic but more accurate long-day-at-the-office that we were recovering from!). Risotto does take time and love but it’s so worth it for a plate of that oozy, sticky, delicious rice.

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small white onion, finely chopped
  • 5-6 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 butternut squash, mostly diced into roughly 1cm cubes, but with some of the round end reserved and cut into slices
  • 200g arborio rice (or other risotto rice)
  • 1 glass of white wine
  • About 1.5l of chicken stock
  • Parmesan cheese, finely grated

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Take half the butter and add it to a wide pan over a medium heat. Let this cook until it turns a brown colour and smells nutty, then add half of the oil to stop it burning any more and the finely chopped onion. Turn the heat down to low and gently sweat the onion for around 5 minutes until it is softened and turning translucent. Shred all except 2 of the sage leaves, add to the onions and cook for another minute.

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Then tip in the chopped butternut squash and let it cook for around 10 minutes stirring regularly. Once the butternut squash has had around 10 minutes in the pan, throw in the arborio rice and stir around to coat in the oil, cook for 1 minute.

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Then chuck in the wine, let it all bubble up and absorb into the rice and then you can start adding the chicken stock. This has got to be done slowly, don’t add more than a glug/ladleful at a time and make sure that it has all absorbed before adding more. Keep stirring it as much as possible, beating up the rice encourages all of the gluten to come out which is what makes it gorgeous and oozy. Keep adding and stirring, and also sipping at your glass of white wine (you only used a glass in the dinner… it would be rude to waste it!).

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Meanwhile take the remaining sliced butternut squash, coat in the remaining oil and then place in a roasting tin in the hot oven. After the slices of butternut squash have had 10-15 minutes in the oven flip them over so they get golden on both sides, if they’re done long before the risotto they’ll keep warm in the oven, just turn it off and leave them in there. Our risotto normally takes at least 45 minutes of slowly adding stock and stirring, most recipes seem to suggest more like 20 minutes but we’re evidently very chilled out (it could be the wine). Anyway, keep testing it once it’s looking puffed up and close to cooked, you want the rice to still have a bit of texture and bite but no crunch! At this point take the remaining butter and brown it in a little saucepan and then add to the risotto – this may seem unnecessary seeing as you started off with brown butter but it’s such a great flavour which can get lost otherwise. Throw in as much or as little parmesan as you fancy and stir it over a low heat to melt in.

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The final step is to heat the remaining oil in the same pan you used for browning the butter, and once it’s shimmering throw in the 2 sage leaves you kept, letting them cook for about 10 seconds per side. Take them out and drain on a piece of kitchen paper – once they’ve drained and cooled slightly they will be very fragile sage “crisps”! So whack the risotto on a plate, top with the golden, roasted slices of butternut squash and delicately plonk the fried sage on top, and enjoy!  This dinner is like a big fluffy-jumper-cuddle on a plate, and can easily be made vegetarian by replacing the chicken stock with vegetable stock and the parmesan with a veggie-friendly cheese!

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