Courgette and mint risotto
I love cooking dishes that are so in season that it makes me feel like one of those celeb chefs pulling newly ripened vegetables out of the ground and making them taste delicious.
I knew the time was right to start cooking with courgettes as I spied some that had been grown in Cornwall at the supermarket last week. No more Spanish out of season imports, we are back on home ground!
I love making risotto as it’s a one pan meal and since I discovered Carnaroli risotto rice, it’s so damn easy to make especially when you’re trying to look after your little ones at the same time.
Carnaroli is a type of risotto rice that is very similar to the more well known Arborio, but better. It’s a relatively new variety which was created after the Second World War by an Italian scientist. He crossed Arborio with a Japanese short grain rice to create Carnaroli.
The best thing about Carnaroli is that it always makes the perfect risotto; it’s not in the least bit tricky to cook with. Normally you have to stir an Arborio risotto constantly and keep a super close eye on it to stop cooking as soon as the rice becomes creamy otherwise one minute more and it’s become stodgy. With Carnaroli you can stir it occasionally, put in too much stock, run around after the children and it will still work out.
All the supermarkets sell Carnaroli in 500g bags and it costs between £1.20 to £1.50 – not bad for a meal for 4 people!
Courgette & mint risotto
30g unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small brown onion finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
325g courgettes, finely sliced
½ glass of dry white wine (the same quality as you would drink)
1 cup/210g Carnaroli risotto rice
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1.25 litre chicken stock – this must be hot (I heat up a jug of it in the microwave) or vegetable stock to make it vegetarian
1 tablespoon fresh mint, finely chopped
½ tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
50g freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Place a large frying pan (with high sides) on a medium heat to start warming while you prepare the ingredients. I use a mandolin to slice the courgettes incredibly finely. Mandolins are brilliant but so evil, make sure you use a finger guard as they are ridiculously sharp.
Melt half of the unsalted butter in the warm pan with the olive oil and stir in the chopped onion. Leave the onion to sweat and slightly colour on the medium heat. Add the garlic, stir and fry for 20 seconds.
Add the finely sliced courgettes and a little water (a couple of tablespoons), the water will stop the very thin slices of courgette sticking and burning to the pan. Cook for about 10 minutes to break down the courgettes. Add a little more water if the pan becomes too dry.
Add the wine and simmer until it has almost evaporated. Add all the rice, salt and stir well. Now start adding the hot stock to the pan in small amounts, just enough stock to cover the bottom of the pan each time, while stirring every now and again so the rice starts absorbing the liquid.
Adding all the stock and stirring the risotto will take at least 20 minutes. The rice will be cooked when the grains have plumped up to 3 times their size and they are soft to eat with a slight bite or hardness right in the middle of the grain. The texture of the risotto needs to be quite soupy at this stage, sometimes I add a little hot water if I’ve used up all the stock and it’s not soupy enough.
Turn the heat off and stir in the remaining unsalted butter (this will give the risotto a creamy flavour and a glossy shine), all the mint and parsley and as much Parmigiano Reggiano as you like. The parmesan will thicken the risotto which is why you need to cook it to be soupy so after the cheese is added it’s not too stodgy.
Taste and check the risotto for seasoning. You might need to add more salt.
Preparation time 10 minutes, cooking 40 minutes, serves 4