This is my favourite (and only) risotto recipe. It isn’t adapted from anywhere in particular, but I have learnt the principles of making a great risotto from watching my dad cook from when I was young. My dad is a very passionate cook, not to mention so damn territorial over the (his) kitchen. Growing up I always wanted to cook; sure the only recipe in my repertoire was a packet cake mix, but it was virtually impossible to create anything without my dad sighing, swearing and complaining that I was making a mess or just simply doing it wrong. When my mum walked in the kitchen he’d virtually seize up like he’d lost all sense of movement in his limbs; and he wouldn’t continue cooking until she was at a 10 metre radius from where he was standing.
Making risotto takes time and patience, so if you’re in a rush, leave it for another time. It requires you to be at the stove, constantly stirring, to ensure each grain of rice cooks perfectly and that it doesn’t turn into a red, sloppy mess.
All up, including preparation, the dish takes approximately an hour to cook.
4 T olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 medium brown onion, finely diced
1 large leek, sliced thinly
1 large red capsicum
1 large eggplant, cubed
¼ C pine nuts
1 C arborio rice
2 T vegetable stock powder (I use Vegeta)
1 L warm water (to dissolve stock powder)
1 L tomato passata
¼ C dry red wine (I used a Sangiovese Merlot which was nice)
Salt and dried chilli flakes to taste
½ C grated Parmigiano Reggiano (optional)
Shaved Parmigiano Reggiano to serve Salt (optional)
1. Pre-heat oven to 220 degrees C on grill setting.
2. Wash red capsicum, dry and place on top of a sheet of foil. Place on top shelf of oven and rotate capsicum until skin begins to darken and blister. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. While still warm, remove skin, seeds and slice thinly. Set aside for later.
3. Wash eggplant and slice into cubes (1cm x 1cm is a good guide). Add 1 T olive oil to a non-stick frypan and cook over a medium-high heat until tender and slightly charred. Once cooked, remove from heat and set aside.
4. Pour remainder of oil in a heavy-based, non-stick saucepan, add garlic and stir for 30 seconds over medium-high heat.
5. Add finely diced onion and sauté until onion becomes translucent, then add the leeks and stir until soften.
6. Add arborio rice and ensure each grain of rice is coated in the oil and onion mixture. Continually stir for 5 minutes to start the risotto cooking process. Reduce to medium heat and add salt, chilli and red wine.
7. Add half a cup (about a ladle full) of the stock to the rice and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the liquid is absorbed. Then add half a cup of the tomato passata and stir until absorbed. Repeat the process (alternating the stock mixture and the tomato passata) half a cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing the liquid to be absorbed before adding the next, for approximately 30 minutes or until the rice is al dente (tender yet firm to the bite).
8. In a small frypan, toast off the pinenuts so they darken in colour slightly and set aside.
9. Once cooked, remove from heat, add in grated Parmigiano Reggiano and stir until combined. To serve top with toasted pinenuts (for a great texture contrast) freshly shaved cheese.
This dish can easily be adapted for people who are Vegan or Lactose-Intolerant; just don’t add in the cheese
To store, wait until risotto has cooled completely and place in an airtight container in the fridge. To reheat place on high for 2.5 minutes in the microwave or warm in a frypan over medium heat. You could even use the leftovers to make arancini. If only I’d thought of that earlier!