Tag Archives: risotto

Recipe | Wild garlic risotto with roasted asparagus and scallops

I initially wanted to do this with a poached duck egg instead of scallops, but was unable to find any. (I did however find a frigging great ostrich egg for nigh on £20 – what on earth would you do with it? I’m intrigued.) The scallops work really well, but should you do it with a poached egg replace the creme fraiche with Parmesan.

Serves 2

A bunch of asparagus
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
25g butter
1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped
1 stick celery, finely chopped
160g risotto rice
125ml dry white wine
1.2 litre hot vegetable/chicken stock
1 tbsp creme fraiche
A bunch of wild garlic
Zest of half a lemon
6 plump scallops
Olive oil, salt, pepper

– Remove the scallops from the fridge. Preheat the oven to 190C. Toss the asparagus in olive oil and the sliced garlic, season with salt and pepper.

– Meanwhile melt the butter in a saucepan and gently sweat the shallot and celery until soft and translucent. Season, and add the rice. Crank up the heat and stir for 2 minutes before adding the wine. Simmer until reduced then add a ladle of stock. Simmer until absorbed by rice and continue adding stock for 15 minutes, stirring regularly.*

– Bung the asparagus in the preheated oven. Finely chop the wild garlic and add to the risotto. Cook for another couple of minutes before tasting the rice. It should be almost there with just a wee bit of bite to it. Adjust the seasoning before adding a final ladle of stock, lemon zest and creme fraiche. Turn off the heat and leave whilst you cook the scallops (keep stirring every now and then).

– Heat a little oil in a frying pan until hot (but not quite smoking) and add the scallops. Fry for 60 seconds on each side before serving with the risotto and asparagus. Italians can be very sniffy about having cheese with fish but if you want to add Parmesan I say go for it. It’s your dinner.

*NB with risotto you don’t have to slavishly stir it. American chef Mario Batali suggests that a bit of sticking is fine, as when you come to scrape up the rogue bits of rice you break down the starch, making for a creamier risotto.


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Roast squash and goat’s cheese risotto

Risotto is still a somewhat misunderstood entity for many Brits. When I say many Brits, I mean at least my grandmother, and I imagine many others besides. For Grannie, risotto translates as ‘ricey graveyard for leftovers’ – any kind of rice (but preferably not risotto rice) slung in the oven with vegetables and perhaps some leftover chicken. Is she unique, or are there others who take this view? Either way, it’s not really what risotto is all about.

For starters, it needs to be a particular kind of rice. A medium-grained, starchy rice, the main ones used in Italy being Vialone Nano, Carnaroli and Arborio (the one least used in Italy, most used in the UK). The idea is that the rice releases starch in the cooking, making it stickier and creamier than, say, basmati, and at the same time absorbs the stock and other flavours used in the dish.

And this is the fun part. Once you have got beyond the standard technique used to make a white risotto, it is a fantastic canvas on which to paint. This does not mean putting half of the larder into it, but instead using one or two carefully chosen ingredients to add body, flavour, and texture. This version is a little more time consuming than others, in that there are three separate processes, but I promise it is worth the effort, and if you keep on top the washing up you shouldn’t have a filthy kitchen by the end of cooking.

Roast sqaush and goat’s cheese risotto

Serves 4

1 small squash – I used Sweet Mama from the veg box, butternut would be grand
1 red onion, peeled and sliced thickly
6 cloves garlic
A few sprigs of thyme
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
300g risotto rice
1 glass white wine
2 litres of hot vegetable or chicken stock
50g goat’s cheese

Preheat the oven to 220C.

Peel and deseed the squash, and cut into large chunks. Put 75% of these in a roasting tray with the red onion, garlic and thyme, toss in olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, boil the remaining squash in salted water and liquidize.

Heat a little butter in a large saute pan and stir in the chopped onion. Season, cover, and leave over a low heat for 5 minutes, taking care not to burn it. Remove the lid, increase the heat and add the rice. Stir for a couple of minutes before adding the wine. Once the wine has reduced add a ladle of stock. Continue stirring, adding stock each time the rice has absorbed the previous batch. After 15-17 minutes taste the rice. It should be a couple of minutes away from being cooked. Adjust the seasoning and stir in the pureed squash, goat’s cheese, and most of the roasted squash, and a final ladle of stock. Turn off the heat but continue stirring for a couple more minutes.

Serve the risotto in warmed bowls, with a few chunks of roasted squash and red onion on top.


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A summer risotto

My no-alcohol endeavours came to a fairly untimely end after 2 long and sweaty sets of tennis when my friend Anthony suggested a pint in our local. The newly refurbished Bull Inn in West Tanfield sits at the bottom of the Yorkshire Dales and perched along the River Ure which becomes the Ouse later in its south-easterly meanderings. It has one of the prettiest beer gardens I have ever been in, beside a stunning old stone bridge. In short, the idea of supping a lime and soda there seems ludicrous. In spitting distance are the Black Sheep and Theaston breweries, with Timothy Taylors not far either, and a great swathe of smaller breweries all producing sublime bitter and ale.

But a man must eat, and our foray into the Bull’s menu had to be postponed as Anthony’s mother had already cooked for him. Me, I had Dad breathing down my neck to eat whatever was in the fridge (he and Mum were going out for supper) – two barbecued partridges which had been in there for God knows how long, and a huge bag of fresh peas from the garden. The partridges, I decided, could wait for the dogs. I set about shelling the peas, a job made less tiresome by the fact that you could pop them in your mouth as you went, but more so because you had to shell double as a result of this practice. The peas are slung in a risotto with some bacon and fresh mint, and although I burn my tongue in my over-zealousness to gobble it down (it would be soothed by Theakstons later) it is comforting yet inherently summery. These quantities serve 1 but can all be multiplied within reason.
I took a photo but it was crap – you know what a risotto looks like.
Pea, bacon and mint risotto

3 rashers streaky bacon
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot or onion
75g Arborio risotto rice
A splash of white wine or vermouth
650ml hot chicken stock (cubed is fine)
a handful of freshly shelled peas – frozen are perfectly good too though
25g Parmesan cheese
A few mint leaves, sliced
In a saute pan (like a large saucepan that never grew tall) fry the bacon over a medium heat till lightly crispy and pop on kitchen paper to drain a little. Reduce the heat and add the shallot to the pan with a little olive oil and a crunch of pepper (don’t add salt at this point – the bacon, Parmesan and, I find, stock cubes all have a fair amount of salt so only add salt at the end if you feel it is necessary). Soften the shallot, increase the heat and add the rice, stirring for a minute or two. Add the white wine and stir till the rice has absorbed it. Then add a ladle of stock. Once this has been absorbed, add another. Continue in this fashion for 15 minutes, stirring regularly but not constantly – there’s really no need. Chop the bacon into bits. When the rice is almost cooked but still has a little bite to it, add the bacon, peas, cheese and mint, and a final ladle of stock and stir for another 2 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add a little salt and/or pepper if necessary. Eat. Don’t burn your tongue.


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