It may have escaped your attention, but I have well over 150 recipes on this blog, and not one of those recipes is a risotto. Even just the word fills me with a despair, one which can only be trumped by the even-more-disappointing ‘stuffed pepper’. There’s nothing worse than a pepper stuffed with whatever scraps the restaurant chef can find – which, more often than not, is last night’s vegetarian option: risotto. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
Don’t get me wrong, a risotto can be a wonderful thing – but frankly, it rarely is. It’s the lazy vegetarian option that graces pub menus throughout the land, and has been given all the love and attention of some over-steamed veg at a carvary.
After a day of exploring the Derbyshire countryside and eating our weight in Bakewell pudding, my boyfriend and I booked a table at The Manners in Bakewell. Starving, my eyes quickly devoured the menu only to fall upon the word I had been hoping not to see: ‘risotto’. My heart sank, and so did Jamie’s (he knows how upset risotto makes me).
“Maybe there’s a special on?” he said apologetically, turning in his chair to look for a board.
“There isn’t,” I replied glumly, looking at the starters to see if one could double up as a main. “They have a burrata salad – maybe I could have that with chips or something?” I added weakly, but Jamie could see my disappointment.
“Why don’t you just try the risotto?” he suggested tentatively.
“Why don’t you try it?!” I snapped accidentally, and instantly regretted it.
“Fine!” he hit back. “Let’s just go somewhere else – forget the fact we’ve been waiting an hour at the bar for this table and it’s almost nine o’clock.”
“Are you ready to order?” the kindly waiter interrupted. He had suddenly appeared by my side, pen poised and expectant look on his face.
“Er, yeah, sorry – I’ll have the burrata and the risotto,” I smiled weakly.
It. Was. Delicious. A creamy, dreamy bowl of perfectly cooked rice with bursts of fresh pea, asparagus and dill. With every mouthful, I discovered pockets of tangy goats cheese rind as well as subtle notes of lemon. Before I know it, Jamie had abandoned his meal and we are both digging into mine – and I didn’t mind one bit. For the first time in living memory, a pub risotto was finally worthy of centre stage. So I did something I thought I would never do – a risotto recipe. Pigs have flown. Enjoy!
Serves 4 / Hands on Time 1 hr 10 mins / Total time 1 hr 10 mins Gf Mf ❄
1 onion, finely chopped
30g unsalted butter
200g risotto rice
150ml white wine
800ml vegetable stock, I use Knorr
200g frozen peas
40g Parmesan* or vegetarian Italian hard cheese, grated
100g vegetarain goats cheese with rind, roughly chopped
Handful of fresh dill, chopped
Juice of half a lemon and zest
*Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiani) is always made using animal rennet, therefore it is not vegetarian. Substitute for Italian hard cheese if applicable.
1. Discard the woody ends of the asparagus spears, chop in half and submerge in a small saucepan of boiling water. Cook for 4 minutes before draining and putting to one side.
2. Prepare all of the other ingredients, making risotto is pretty hands on so you want everything ready and to hand while cooking. Measure out, chop and grate everything you are going to need. Once your asparagus has cooled slightly, chop into chunks and put to one side with other ingredients.
3. In a large non stick pot, or saucepan with a lid, add the butter and sweat the onions down, on a low heat for around 10 minutes, with the lid on. Add the crushed garlic and continue to cook for a further few more minutes. Add the risotto rice and coat well in the buttery onion mixture before upping the heat to high. Stir continually for 3 minutes until the rice goes slightly translucent at the edges. Add all of the wine (it should fizz) and cook until the wine has absorbed.
4. Turn the heat down to medium and add a ladle of stock, stir until absorbed. Continue to add a ladle of stock one at a time and cook until each addition has been absorbed. Once all the stock has been incorporated, take off the heat.
5. Add the asparagus, peas, lemon juice, lemon zest, fresh dill, parmesan and the goats cheese. Mix well and cover with a lid and leave for 5 minutes. Finally uncover, season with salt and pepper and serve drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.
If you’ve had a go at making my risotto or any of my other recipes, I’d love to hear about it @corrieheale firstname.lastname@example.org