A risotto is the most basic of peasant food, originally from the Lombardy region in Italy, an area that has been in the media rather a lot recently for all the wrong reasons and so I wanted to celebrate it for something rather fabulous instead. This leek and courgette risotto is by no means traditional but it has the essence and simplicity of the original and uses the vegetables I had in the fridge. Much like all my recipes at the moment you can use any selection of veg and you can find a number of different risotto recipes here on my blog.
A lot of people moan about how time consuming a risotto is; the constant adding of stock, the repetitive stirring but this is actually what I love about a risotto. There’s something wonderfully calming about standing there and creating something so beautiful. It’s actually such a simple thing to make but it tastes so good you’ll wonder why you never made it before!
- 1 medium onion – finely chopped
- 1 stick of celery – finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic – crushed
- fresh thyme
- 1 large courgette – finely grated
- 175g risotto rice
- 1 glass of white wine
- 1 litre vegetable stock
- 100g frozen peas
- 30g parmesan, strong cheddar or other hard cheese
I’m using my 32inch shallow cast-iron casserole dish, which I place on a medium hob with a little butter and olive oil. Once this becomes warm add the onions and celery and let them sweat gently for about 5 minutes until they begin to soften.
Add the garlic and some fresh herbs. Thyme works really well here. Stir together will a little salt and pepper and then add the grated courgette. It will seemingly soak up the juices in the pan but after about 3 minutes everything will become soft again and then will start to release their juices. Let its simmer for a couple more minutes and then add the rice and stir it all together well and let the rice soak in the rest of the veg.
Pour in a generous glass of wine and stir gently until the wine is all but absorbed. (The dish won’t be dry as such, it will always be relatively wet but you should be able to see large clear tracks of the bottom of the dish as you drag your spoon through and this is when you know it’s time to add more liquid.)
Start pouring the stock into your risotto a ladle-full at a time, stirring gently between each pour until the liquid is absorbed into the rice, again it won’t be a dry dish, the rice will begin the plump up and the whole dish should be wonderfully creamy and rather green!
Keep adding stock and stirring for at least 20 minutes, gently, calmly until either the rice is ready or thee stock is used. It’s possible you won’t use all of your stock. I like my risotto quite wet but others prefer it dryer. Different rice acts in different ways. There’s no right or wrong.
Take the pan off the heat and stir the peas and cheese in, then cover with the lid and let it rest for 5 mins before serving
eat and of course, enjoy!