This has to be my favourite recipe of the month – absolutely delicious!
(Recipe by Rachel Allen, a professional cook and busy mother. A native of Dublin, she lives in Cork with her husband and two young children. Rachel teaches at the Ballymaloe Cookery School and presents several TV cookery shows. http://www.rachelallen.co.uk/ )
4 tbsp olive oil
250g (9oz) peas, fresh or frozen
100g (4 oz) spinach (destalk if the leaves are large)
950ml (1 pt 12 fl oz) vegetable (or chicken) stock [I used marigold vegetable bouillon]
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed or grated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
350g (12 oz) risotto rice, such as arborio or carnaroli
150ml (5 fl. oz) white wine
100g (4 oz) Parmesan cheese to serve
12 stalks of asparagus, ends trimmed and cut in half lengthways
Preheat the oven to 180’C/gas 4.
Heat half the olive oil in an oven-proof saucepan.
Add the peas and spinach and cook, stirring all the time, for 2 minutes, until the spinach wilts.
Add about 50ml of the stock and puree in a blender or food processor.
In the same saucepan, heat the remaining olive oil, add the onion and garlic and season with salt and pepper.
Cover with a lid and sweat over a gentle heat until soft but not coloured.
Add the risotto rice and stir it around in the saucepan for a minute, then add the remaining stock and the wine.
Stir and bring it up to the boil, cover with the lid and place in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until the rice is just cooked and all the liquid has been absorbed.
Stir in the vegetable puree and set aside with the lid on.
Bring a saucepan of water to the boil, add a good pinch of salt and the asparagus.
Boil for 2-3 minutes or until it is just tender, then drain.
Serve the risotto in warm bowls with the asparagus and Parmesan arranged on top.
Rachel’s handy tip: The alcohol in the wine burns off during cooking, and the flavour is lovely, but if you do not want to use it, jut replace it with extra stock.
Hils comment: A delightful accompaniment for any meal. I prefer it with plainly cooked fish or chicken, as the fresh spring tastes really come through.
The risotto made a fairly bland (but oh-so-healthy!) meal of baked plaice into something really special.
It would also be great on its own.
The leftovers made a delicious lunch next day – I stirred through some of the remaining baby spinach leaves and asparagus, added a few thin slices of parmesan, and microwaved it for a minute or two . Wow!