Although I like most Sundays to be quiet, restful affairs involving such tasks as pottering in the garden and performing small chores around the house, from the moment I opened my eyes yesterday didn’t feel like it was supposed to be one of those days. So, in order to blow off the cobwebs and embrace our itchy feet we took a slow meander along to our local Lidl to pick up some fruit and veg for the forthcoming week.
I really like Lidl’s produce selection and I love their prices too, so it wasn’t a surprise that we came home with a little bit more veg than we’d intended to buy, but this doesn’t cause me concern because I know I’ll use it all in meals throughout the week.
When I was thinking about what I was going to cook for dinner I figured I’d use up last week’s veg that was left in the fridge, topped up with a bit of the fresh stuff we’d picked up that day, so a vegetable risotto seemed the way to go. I used to be wary of risottos, thinking that they were difficult to make and that they required constant stirring, but that’s not the case at all. As long as you use decent quality stock cubes and a good quality non-dairy parmesan cheese you can’t go wrong. My risotto was supposed to include the large glass of crisp white wine that was left in a bottle in the fridge from the night before, but my partner decided that it would be better used as an apéritif to sip on while watching me prepare the risotto. Top tip: keep your wine hidden out of reach until you’ve used what you need in the risotto.
It’s up to you to choose what your additional flavourings will be because the possibilities are endless: baby summer vegetables; crispy pancetta and oyster mushrooms; chicken, mangetout and white wine; or a seafood risotto packed to the gills with king prawns, mussels and squid. There’s a risotto for everyone’s taste buds, you’ve just got to find it, but I can highly recommend the one below.
1 tbsp olive oil
100g red bell pepper (cut into bite-sized pieces)
6 cherry tomatoes (halved)
1/2 a courgette (cut into bite-sized pieces) – no more than 120g in total
60g mangetout (cut into bite-sized pieces)
100g oyster mushrooms (cut into bite-sized pieces)
100g large leaf spinach (English spinach)
300g arborio rice
3 tbsp chopped chives
A 150ml large glass of crisp white wine (vegan optional)
3 vegetable stock cubes
1 litre of boiling water
75g finely grated dairy-free parmesan (normal parmesan isn’t vegetarian/vegan)
Prepare the vegetables as directed in the ingredients list and then add the stock cubes to the litre of boiling water and stir to dissolve them.
Put a large frying pan over a medium heat and add the olive oil. Once hot, add the red pepper, courgette, mangetout, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes to the frying pan and cook until they are tender. Add the spinach and cook until it is wilted.
Put the vegetable mix in a separate pan and leave to one side.
Put the frying pan back on the heat (don’t bother washing it, life’s far too short) and add the arborio rice. If you’ve managed to keep hold of the white wine add it to the frying pan now and let it be absorbed into the rice, stirring occasionally.
Once the wine’s been absorbed add a little bit of the vegetable stock and 2 tbsps of the chopped chives and let the stock be absorbed, stirring occasionally.
Keep adding the vegetable stock a little at a time until the rice is plump and al dente (has a slight bite to it). You might not need to use all the stock so it’s okay to have some left over if you’re happy that the rice is cooked to your taste.
Stir the grated parmesan into the rice (feel free to add more if you like, but I thought 75g was plenty). Then stir your precooked vegetables from earlier into the rice and heat through.
Serve sprinkled with the last tbsp of chopped chives and more parmesan.