A few weeks, ago just as the Italian lockdown was finally lifting, I managed to persuade a good friend, who just happens to be an excellent builder, to construct the raised beds for my outdoor vegetable garden and kitchen – of which more later! Whilst he was busy sawing seasoned oak beams and hammering in the iron pegs needed to hold everything in place, I was stuck at my desk dealing with back-to-back Zoom meetings and seemingly endless emails. By lunchtime we were in need of something substantial but time and supplies were limited so I dug deep into the back of the cupboard and found a bag of locally grown risotto rice given to us some time ago. Soon we were eating the ultimate comfort food…
2 cups of risotto rice A large knob of butter A handful of mushrooms An onion (white, red, spring...it doesn't matter) A bunch of asparagus (fresh or frozen) A chunk of Gorgonzola cheese A splash of white wine A vegetable stock cube Salt and pepper to taste
People often assume that it’s complicated and time consuming to make Italian risotto but it really isn’t – at least not the way I do it!
First, chop the onion, mushrooms and asparagus and sauté in a knob of butter until soft. This will take around 7-8 minutes. Turn the vegetables into a dish and set to one side while you prepare the rice.
Heat a little olive oil in the same pan that you sautéed the vegetables and then add the rice and cook for a few minutes stirring constantly until the grains start to become translucent.
Next, add a good splash of white wine and cook off the alcohol on a high heat, again stirring constantly. When all the liquid has gone pour in a litre of vegetable stock and then add the cooked vegetables Stir it all together, season with salt and pepper and leave to simmer gently for around 30 minutes. You will need to give the risotto a stir every so often to prevent it sticking and add more water if necessary but you don’t need to constantly watch the pan.
Everyone has their own preferred risotto texture and consistency – I like mine to retain some shape and texture. Once it’s cooked as you like it remove the pan from the heat. Add the Gorgonzola cheese, stir thoroughly and leave to sit for 5 minutes. This allows the cheese to melt and all the moisture to be absorbed. Stir though and serve with a glass of crisp white wine before heading back to the office/garden.
Guaranteed to make the afternoon’s meetings more tolerable!