I LOVE RISOTTO! It has been one of my favourite meals for as long as I can remember, however until a few years ago it was reserved as my staple menu choice when eating out. I thought it a really complex thing to make and not something I could master at home. I once read somewhere that risotto is the food of love. Risotto says "I love you enough to spend a long time standing at the stove patiently stirring to create this delicious, seemingly simple masterpiece". It also says in a slightly bossy tone akin to the love given by a wiser, older sister "take a load off, breathe, sip some wine and just deal with it - we are going to be here a while and you can't rush this, so you might as well relax." For me it was originally a love affair saved for nice restaurants, special occasions and quiet nights out with my better half. That was until I was too pregnant to enjoy sitting for long periods of time, our finances were depleted with the imminent arrival of Potterini Nr 1 - which made eating out a luxury that had passed - and we happened to have a very large farmhouse kitchen at the time that seemed to call out for someone standing over a pot stirring for long periods of time. I couldn't enjoy sipping the wine, but I could therapeutically sway back and forth to ease the pregnancy pains as I patiently stirred my first risotto for about 20 minutes, whilst romantically picturing our new life as a little family. (Note to future parents: do lots of dreaming and relaxed cooking before the arrival. All the "loving it forward" will put you in a much better mindset when you've not slept for days, your baby never stops crying and you can't remember the last time you had two hands free to stand in front of a hot pot!)
I have tried lots of different recipes and have a whole stack of ones yet to sample but much like the making of risotto, trialling them all takes time and is a process I can't rush, so I make peace with the fact that one day I will get round to them and share ones that are a success. It is a process that I really enjoy when I am in the right frame of mind - often at the end of a busy week with a glass of wine - and this may sound cheesy but as I stir, I infuse it with love for the people I am going to serve it to... Try it sometime, it will make you feel wonderful.
This was one of our early simple risotto recipes that we cut out of a magazine and is on the first page of our home made recipe book. We enjoyed it so much we have probably made it twenty times or more over the years since our first attempt in April 2009 (just a month after Nr 1 was born!). It's creamy, zingy, fresh, summery and makes you smile to eat it - ask anyone who's had it at ours.
The basics to get you started:
- 750ml vegetable stock
- 75g butter
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 225g risotto rice
- 150ml dry white wine
- 2 large courgettes, 1 grated and 1 sliced
- zest of 1 large lemon
- juice of 1/2 large lemon
- 2 tbsp grated Parmesan, plus shavings to serve
1) First things first, get all of your ingredients ready. Chop, grate, measure, zest, juice... Having everything to hand in neat bowls will make you feel relaxed and organised and will make the process all the more enjoyable.
2) Bring your stock to the boil and then lower the heat to keep it simmering slowly for the duration.
3) Melt half the butter in a heavy based saucepan over a low heat and gently cook the onions for about 5 minutes until softened.
4) Add the garlic and rice and stir continuously (a wooden spoon is best) for about 1 minute to coat the rice and toast slightly.
5) Next pour in the wine and stir until all the liquid has been absorbed.
6) Stir in one ladle full of of the simmering stock and adjust the heat - the rice should be at a slow simmer. Stir continuously until the stock has been absorbed and the rice parts when a wooden spoon is run through it.
7) Add another ladle full of stock and continue cooking as above, stirring continuously and adding more stock as you go. Remember it takes time, so relax and think of lovely things as you stir. You will also need to put on a pot of water to boil around now.
8) When the rice is almost tender to the bite (this should after around 18-20 minutes) add your grated courgette along with a final ladle of stock. Cook, still stirring, for 1 more minute.
9) Meanwhile blanch the sliced courgette in a pan of salted, boiling water for 2 minutes or until just tender, then drain and set aside.
10) Remove the rice from the heat and stir in the lemon zest and juice, the remaining butter and grated Parmesan. Stir vigorously till the butter has melted - this vigorous stirring is what makes it creamy - then cover with a lid and leave to stand for a minute.
Serve the risotto on a bed of blanched courgettes with a scattering of Parmesan shavings and some cracked black pepper if you like. Voila - delicious!
Love Holly x
QUESTIONS: What food for you symbolizes love and comfort? What do you enjoy making when you are relaxed and have time to savour the experience? Any favourite risotto recipes you'd like to pass along?
Original recipe words by Marina Filippelli