Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Green and lemon

Different people have different reactions to green vegetables. Some seem to saute them in butter till any nutritional benefit is surely lost, others embrace the earthy crunch and eat them raw shredded into a salad. Many believe a good smothering of salt is required to truly enjoy broccoli or kale. Not that I disagree with this, a pinch of salt is necessary to tame the bitterness that many green vegetables put up as a wall to hide their true tastes; however nowadays whenever I see anything green, the first thing that rushes through my mind is lemon. I probably overdo it massively, but whenever greenery is presented I cannot help giving a quick juice or a zest. This risotto recipe is perfect for summer, and has just the right proportion of lemon to greens (or at least for my taste).

Green risotto with lemon
Serves 4 

- carnaroli (or aborio) rice, 300g
- zest and juice of half a large lemon
- red wine vinegar, tbsp
- butter, 20g
- olive oil, tbsp
- red onion, chopped
- chicken stock, 500ml
- spring onions, 2, sliced
- grana padano (see note at bottom)

For the green puree:
- spinach, 100g
- peas, 100g
- basil leaves, large handful
- large garlic clove
- parsley, small handful (optional)

To make the green puree, bring a large pan of water to the boil and add the peas and spinach. Cook for five minutes or so and then drain. When cool, place in a food processor along with the other ingredients and blitz to a puree. Set aside.
Heat the butter and oil in a large saute pan over a medium heat. Add the red onion and cook for 10 minutes until softened, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, place the stock in a saucepan and place on a medium high heat. When the onion has softened, add the rice and stir to coat in the pan juices. Add a ladle of stock and stir the rice until most of if has been absorbed. Keep adding the stock a ladle at a time until the rice is cooked al dente, about 20-25 minutes. 5-10 minutes before the rice is cooked add the green puree, red wine vinegar, lemon juice and spring onion. When the rice is just about al dente add a last ladle of stock and remove from the heat, still stirring until a desired consistency is achieved (I like it at about a level where, if one runs a wooden spoon through the middle, the rice will hold its shape for a second before filling the space). Sprinkle over the lemon zest and spoon into bowls, drizzling over some extra virgin olive oil to taste.

A note on grana padano. This dish can work either way, and I have tried both. If a more satisfying, filling risotto is desired then grate away, but if you wish to have a lighter dish, it works perfectly without. If only parmesan is in reach then I would recommend not adding it, I would imagine the flavour wouldn't be delicate enough for the dish.

A further note, which has just hit me at the end of this post. Some orange zest (if to hand) would work quite well alongside the lemon. I am yet to try it, but shall next time.

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