Monday, 24 May 2010

Pea and Courgette Risotto

I always keep a bag of risotto rice (arborio) in the cupboard, as its so handy to russle up a meal out of what you have lying around. It's a great base so gives you the best ideas for getting creative with ingredients. We had some peas in the freezer and just bought a few fresh ingredients, so I came up with this combination.

If you haven't cooked risotto before, don't be scared of it! It's not difficult, but does involve standing at the hob for about half an hour, so you have to do it when you have the time and are in the mood for chilling out in the kitchen-perhaps with some music and a glass of wine! Once you've learnt the basic technique though, it will become a staple.

Olive oil
250g risotto rice
1 small onion,finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 litre vegetable stock
100ml white wine
Approx 200g frozen peas
1 small courgette, cut into ribbons with a U-shaped vegetable peeler
extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
handful of basil leaves

1) Have two pans ready. Put the vegetable stock into one and leave simmering -you'll need to add the hot stock gradually to the rice throughout cooking.

2)Now, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan. Gently fry the onion and garlic for about 5 minutes. Stir in the rice and cook for a minute or so.

2) Pour in the wine, increase the heat and bubble for a couple of minutes until most of the wine has been absorbed by the rice. Season with salt and pepper.

3) Continue to cook by adding one ladleful of the hot stock at a time, pretty much continuously stirring each ladleful in until it has been absorbed. It will take about 20 minutes doing this until the rice has cooked.

4) Meanwhile (you can leave the rice for a couple of minutes or get someone to help you!) make a pea puree. Blast half the peas in a little water in the microwave for 2 minutes, then whizz with a hand held blender.

5) If you have a griddle pan for the hob, cook the courgettes on this with a little olive oil. Otherwise cook them under the grill. It will only take 5 minutes to soften and slightly colour them.

6) Add the rest of the frozen peas to the risotto a couple of minutes before the end of cooking, and stir through. Stir in the pea puree.
Taste the rice. You know it is cooked when it is slightly soft but still has a slight bite to it. The consistency of the risotto should be soft but not too runny.

8) Roughly chop the basil leaves and stir into the risotto. Serve the risotto in large bowls, top with the griddled courgettes, a drizzle of olive oil, and some more chopped basil.

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