It might surprise you to know that my favourite ingredient at the moment is not truffle oil, or harissa, or vanilla bean, or handpicked kalamata olives....well, maybe it won't but it certainly surprised me! My favourite ingredient at the moment is Waitrose Vegetables Grilled Mix - a bag of frozen grilled mixed vegetables. You get courgette (zuchinni), red and yellow peppers, onions, aubergines (eggplant), a whole mixture of things.
You get a huge bag of them for £2.49 and even though I don't usually get pre-prepared things (because of cost comparison to the raw ingredients and preparing them yourself) let me tell you, they are a godsend for those busy week night dinners. I have used them in so many different ways - on pizza, served as a bastardised ratatouille with veggie sausages, in wraps, in a warm salad, in a pasta sauce.....but my favourite way so far is with this gorgeous risotto!
The winter we've just had, and the wet cold evenings we're continuing to have this week, has led me to cook some yummy comforting dishes, and I've come to really love risotto again. It's so easy to make - a friend taught me a method that means NO standing over the stove slaving with a ladle and a pot of boiling stock. It's the ultimate lazy persons risotto! How does that sound?
As with all my recipes, I make enough for both of us to be satisfied and then have leftovers for two or three lunches the next day.
Grilled Vegetable Risotto
You will need:
- A little olive oil (or cooking spray if you don't want to use oil)
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- Fresh basil (or any other herb you like), roughly torn into pieces
- 3 large mushrooms, including stalk, chopped
- Splash of white wine
- 2 cups Waitrose Vegetables Grilled Mix (or any other vegetable mix you have - or you could prepare your own vegetables instead of picking up the frozen stuff of course!)
- 1 box (500g) arborio risotto rice
- Salt and pepper
- 1.5 litres vegetable stock
- Lemon juice and zest (optional)
- Spinach, broccoli and asparagus (or any other easy to cook green vegetables)
- Walnut oil, for drizzling (optional)
Coat a large stock pot with cooking spray, or pour in a little olive oil. Heat over high heat.
When the pot is hot, add the onion, garlic, basil and mushrooms until soft. At this point you can add chilli to the risotto too, if you like a bit of heat - one small red finely chopped chilli would do. Add the white wine (it should sizzle) and saute for a few minutes, then add the frozen grilled vegetables. Stir constantly for a few minutes until they have semi-defrosted. You can add a little more white wine here if you wish.
Then add the box of arborio rice, and stir to combine the grains with the vegetable mix.
As soon as you've done that, add the entire amount of vegetable stock. Yes, all of it.
Add some salt and pepper, and stir everything very well. Let it come to the boil, and then turn the heat down to medium-low and come back in 15-20 minutes to check it. Stir it thoroughly, scraping up everything from the bottom (it shouldn't stick, but you will know your stove better than I do what temperature to safely leave it on and be able to walk away!). Taste the rice for tenderness. For me, it takes about 30 minutes to have that lovely, silky consistency.
If you like, stir in some fresh lemon juice and zest at this point, for a bit of zing and flavour.
Steam your greens. If you've got spinach, I would add it to the rice here, and just stir it through the hot risotto to wilt it.
Taste for rice done-ness and seasoning, add more salt and pepper if it needs it. Then serve in a deep bowl (Tom and I call ours "piggy bowls", they are giant green things from Ikea!) with your greens on top, and a drizzle of walnut oil (or any other flavoured oil you like) and a bit more black pepper if you want.
Eat in front of the television, watching a cooking show, with the rain pouring outside :)
The purists out there would probably say this isn't a real risotto for lack of the stirring method - and maybe it isn't. But it tastes so nice, and is good for you, I don't care what it's proper name should be :)
What's your favourite ingredient at the moment?