Basic Risotto - with Rocket and Fresh Vine Tomato
This risotto recipe is the basic one I use when experimenting with ingredients. I have used a simple mix of rocket and tomato, but have added ideas for variations along the way! Freshly picked garden ingredients are always best, but a trip to the farmers market should get you some good fresh ingredients that haven't traveled too far.
I guess these ingredients would serve three or four, depending on your preferred portion size. I generally cook for the two of us, then have some the next day too. As ever I would recommend reading through the whole recipe before you start as I give you a few options and ideas for substitutions!
4 tbsp Rapeseed Oil
1 large Red Onion, chopped finely (I also added four baby shallots, cut into quarters, but these aren't vital if you don't have them)
2 large Garlic cloves, chopped finely or crushed
12oz Arborio Rice
4fl oz Cooking Wine. White Wine is best, though I have used random homemade wine before and it turned out just as well!!
large handful grated vegan Cheese. A strong cheddar style one was used in this recipe, but I have also tried a blue-style one and a smoked one before; they give good flavour according to your preferences, so are worth a try if you make this more than once! Applewood Smoked is particularly nice.
2 pints (just boiled) vegan Vegetable Stock
Handful of small, sweet vine Tomatoes, cut in half (Piccolo are a good variety).
Handful of fresh Rocket leaves, washed. Baby Spinach, chopped Kale or Samphire (for those lucky enough to live near the sea!) work equally well and can be substituted or used as well.
12 fresh clean Basil leaves (optional)
In a large, deep frying or saute pan heat the oil and begin to soften the onions, then garlic. Stir frequently until they appear to be cooking, but are not yet browning.
Add the rice and give a good mix until its all coated in oil and starting to heat. Let it cook like this for a couple of minutes before pouring over the wine. This will steam and fizz, then evaporate quickly. Now start adding the stock a cup full at a time, allowing much of it to be absorbed before the next cup is added. The pan should be on a steady simmer and not a boil at this stage. You want the rice to soak it up slowly and do not want it to be swimming in liquid all at once.Stir continuously to prevent the rice sticking to the pan.
Continue to add the stock until it's all used up. The rice should start to go translucent and upon tasting should be soft, without being crunchy when bitten.
When the rice appears to be getting near it's time, add the tomatoes and greens (whichever you choose to use) and stir into the rice. When it is right, it should be creamy in consistency, not sloppy nor dry!
Remove from the heat and stir in most of your cheese, saving some to one side. The cheese should start to soften and melt a little
Take a little of your reserved cheese and sprinkle in the bottom of the bowls you will serve in. Serve up the risotto with a ladle into your bowls. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and garnish if you wish with another sprig of basil. Serve immediately.
Arborio rice is a useful thing to keep in the pantry as so many things can be made into a risotto! This basic method can be used to make all manner of interesting risotto combinations. You could use young asparagus tips, leek, courgette, spring onion, french beans or pumpkin just by adding at the beginning and cooking with the onions. I like to experiment with fresh harvests and use this recipe when I have only a handful of things ready to pick.