As previous posts have implied, my girlfriend Ju is a veggie and before our first date my friends asked whether I’d pick a veggie option at dinner to avoid any potential offence. Well… I did contemplate it, however the draw of a massive steak was too strong. When it arrived the waiter even commented that the steak was huge and covered half the plate. Not a particularly sensitive meal choice, but it was good!
Thankfully, Ju is not the kind of girl to write someone off based on a menu choice, either that or the copious amounts of alcohol and dazzling dance moves I broke out later that night swayed her decision as we are still going strong over two years later. For the date I had picked an Italian restaurant as apparently veggies generally do better with Italian food, thanks to a selection of veg based pasta dishes. However the options on this occasion were limited to some pretty standard penne dishes and a pea and mint risotto. She went for the risotto, explaining that it is pretty much the default veggie offer in restaurants with little creativity or thought for non meat eaters. Since then, every time risotto has popped up as the solitary veggie option we’ve had a chuckle, it’s a bit of an ‘in joke’, but you’d be surprised how often she can’t escape the risotto.
That being said, there is nothing wrong with a good risotto and even with it often cropping up on our nights out it does also feature in our kitchen and as I knocked one up the other night I thought I’d share my version:
- 150g Arborio rice
- Selection of wild mushroom cut into large chucks
- 1 entire leek cut into chunks
- 1 diced red onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- Handful of sundried tomatoes
- Large glass of white wine – something dry is better
- Vegetable stock
- Double cream
- Big bunch of roughly chopped fresh parsley
- Fresh cracked black pepper
- Bundle of fresh rocket or similar to serve
Make up a batch of veggie stock and keep hot in a pan. Heat a drizzle of good olive oil in a large pan, chuck in the red onion then sample the wine(!) Add the garlic and leek once the onion has started to soften and then the mushrooms. Add the rice and stir together. At this point you need to start adding stock, starting with just enough to cover the rice and turn the heat down low. Keep adding hot stock to the pan when it’s looking dry… don’t let it dry out as it will burn. Add a decent grind of black pepper and the glass of wine and let cook through until the rice is soft, stirring regularly.
I have no idea how long this takes, I just keep tasting the rice as I think that’s probably the best way to test how long it needs or if it needs any seasoning. At the last second throw in the parsley, keeping some back to dress the final dish. Mix in a glug of cream which is to give the risotto a gooey, oozy consistency so judge how much to add by eye.
To serve, I place the risotto in pasta bowls and make a well in the middle of the rice with the back of a ladle. Dress some rocket with a bit of oil, rolling gently into a nest and placed in the well. Dress with parsley and another grind of pepper… enjoy.