Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Lemony Roasted Asparagus Risotto

(serves 2)

200 g risotto or paella rice
2 banana shallots, very finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
1.5 l vegetable stock
175 ml dry white wine
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt
50 g freshly grated parmesan
extra virgin olive oil
250 g green asparagus
juice of 1 lemon
butter (optional)

1. Prepare the asparagus first: Bend so it breaks where the woddy end starts. (You can use the woody bits along with other ingredients to make a vegetable stock.) Wash and place into a roasting tray, season with a little pepper and salt und drizzle with olive oil. Roast at 220 °C/gas mark 6 for approx. 12 minutes. It should still have quite a bit of bite because it will cook when added to the risotto. Drizzle with lemon juice, remove onto a plate and leave to cool, then chop into 3-4 cm long pieces. Add the juices from the baking tray to your stock.

2. For the risotto, heat some olive oil in a saucepan and sauté the onion and garlic for 5 minutes at a low heat until tender but not browned.

3. Add the rice and keep stirring until the rice starts to become translucent. Then add the wine. Keep stirring until the wine has been absorbed. Now start adding the hot stock a ladle at the time. Over a medium heat keep stirring the whole time. After about 15-20 minutes check if the rice is done. If you like make it al dente.

4. Now turn off the heat and add the asparagus.

5. Next, add the parmesan and a little olive oil or butter. Mix carefully and leave for a couple of minutes. This is how it becomes so wonderfully creamy.

Serve on warmed plates optionally drizzled with a nice olive oil and topped with some watercress.

Spinach soup with tahini and chickpeas

Normally I don't add salt to soups as I find that there is enough salt even in the reduced salt vegetable stock powder I usually use. However, the stock for this soup was home made without added salt.

500 g fresh spinach, washed
1 tin of organic chickpeas, drained
2-2.5 l vegetable stock
2 heaped tbsp of unsalted tahini
1 onion, finely chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 large handfuls of fine wholemeal oat flakes
extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt
dried herbes des Provence

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and sauté the onion, garlic and herbs over a low to medium heat for about 5 minutes until softened but not browned.

2. Add the stock, oat flakes, tahini and half of the chickpeas. Season with pepper and salt and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 10 minutes until the oat flakes have softened.

3. Add the spinach and let it wilt. Then check the seasoning and blend.

4. After blending, check the seasoning again, add the remaining chickpeas and heat through.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Coriander Pesto

This is a gorgeous alternative to the traditional basil-based pesto. Don't worry about the coriander being to strong-flavoured. Combined with all the other ingredients it makes a yummy pesto. Pasta and home-made pesto = bliss :)))

(serves 4)

50 coriander, washed and spun (or dried really well)
40 toasted hazelnuts, skin removed
4 garlic cloves
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt
a good lug of extra virgin olive oil (about 20 seconds' worth)
2 small handfuls of freshly grated parmesan

Put all the ingredients into food processor and zap or into a beaker and purée with a handheld blender. Any left-overs will keep in the fridge for a few days in an airtight container and covered completely with olive oil.