I get such a mid-winter craving for vegetables. Maybe it’s the festive meat-eating or the sight of the Farmers’ Market half empty but I can’t help but want to pile my plate with veg every day.
This little risotto was one of Milla’s absolute favourites when she was a baby and I made it at least once a week. My favourite risotto is definitely and earthy mushroom best served on a cold wet evening.
I often use frozen veg in this risotto, either peas or a vegetable medley, to take a bit of the prep work out of it. If using frozen veg then pop them in your stock half way through and let them cook there and be added slowly.
Adapt this recipe to what you have around and your baby’s tastes. Betsy adores parsnip so I included some in the base veg and I had some Cavolo Nero from the market just begging to be thrown in for the last couple of minutes.
Of all the things I have learned to cook risotto has been one of the most satisfying and is also the one most people ask me to teach them. It doesn’t need cream or cheese to achieve the oozing consistency – that’s all down to the rice.
Olive oil or butter (a glug or knob respectively)
- 1 carrot, diced
- 1 stick of celery, diced
- 1 small/medium onion, diced
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
500ml of hot chicken stock in a pan with a ladle (either home made or low-salt cubes)
1 cupped handful of arborio risotto rice (per two children)
Extra vegetables; some, all or none:
- Cabbage (red cabbage is great as turns the rice blue)
- Mushrooms (lightly fried first)
- Or anything you have to hand in total should make up a large handful.
Parmesan to garnish (optional)
- Get all of your ingredients ready first as once you are stirring you don’t need anything else to distract you (the children can do that).
- Heat a wide heavy based pan over a medium heat then drop in your glug of oil or knob of butter.
- Add your carrot, celery and onion and allow them to cook gently for a couple of minutes to soften without colouring.
- Add the garlic and cook for a minute more.
- Add the rice and stir well to combine with the veg and their lovely juice.
- When the rice is almost crackling (but never coloured) add your first ladle of stock. This noise is apparently called the ‘sigh of risotto’ so I’ve heard.
- Now you are into the main cooking part of stirring and adding stock. Stir in a figure of eight getting into the corners of the pan so no rice sticks.
- To know when to add the next ladle full of stock pull your spoon through the risotto. If, like in the picture at the bottom, the rice does not flow back together but leaves a path then it is ready.
- The process should take about 20 minutes so 10 minutes in add any frozen or big veg you are using to the stock and crank up the heat a little to compensate.
- Continue to ladle stock and stir allowing veg to come in with the stock.
- The rice will be puffed up and when you bite a grain to try it should feel soft with a tiny bit of bite left in the centre.
- Once it has reached this stage, turn off the heat and put a lid on the pan for a few minutes.
- When you remove the lid it should be oozing and creamy.