Celebrate spring with some bright fresh flavours, have an Easter feast and bake some treats with the kids. There are loads of ideas up on the blog now. Let me point you in the direction of some delicious dishes which will work perfectly this Easter. Liz x
To me a risotto should elevate a single vegetable. It should celebrate it. Add too many ingredients to your risotto and the flavours will mingle and become indistinguishable in the long simmer. Courgettes are incredibly versatile. Fantastic cooked down low and slow into a silky mush, griddled and seared, battered and deep fried, raw… So for interest and texture in this dish I’ve cut each courgette differently. One diced and simmered with the onions into a meltingly soft sauce, one sliced into rounds for texture and body in the risotto and the last one peeled into raw ribbons to go on top. Serve with a swirl of pesto (try my salad bag pesto here), a drizzle of good olive oil and some toasted hazelnuts. Heaven.
Leave a comment if you tried this recipe or show us your photos on Instagram or our Facebook group. We love seeing your amazing recreations. Liz x
Ingredients (serves 4)
- 1 onion
- 1 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 sticks of celery
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 3 courgettes
- 1 mug of risotto rice (or however much you like to serve 4)
- 1 lemon
- 1 stock cube
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3 tbsp (or more to taste) pesto
- extra virgin olive oil to serve
- toasted, chopped hazelnuts to serve
Dice the onion and put it in a wide pan with the butter and oil over a medium high heat. Add a pinch of salt and sauté and soften for around 6 minutes.
Dice the celery sticks, garlic and one of the courgettes and add them to the pan to soften too. Cook, stirring often until soft and golden. Around 10 minutes.
Rinse and add the risotto rice to the pan with the zest and juice of the lemon (or a glass of white wine). Crumble in the stock cube and add a generous grind of black pepper. Stir well to coat the rice in the seasoning then add a mug of warm water.
Slice the second courgette into rounds and add it to the pan. Simmer and stir until all the water has been absorbed then add another mug of water. Keep simmering and stirring.
Meanwhile use a vegetable peeler to slice as many ribbons from the third courgette. Chop up the middle bit and add it to the pan. Keep simmering and stirring and add another mug of water. Taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt, pepper or lemon once the rice started to swell up and become softer.
Once the risotto is cooked (the rice should be soft and creamy but still with a little bite) turn off the heat. Stir through a few tbsp of pesto, pile on the raw courgette ribbons, drizzle everything with extra virgin olive oil and scatter over the toasted hazelnuts.
Take the pan to the table and serve with the jar of pesto handy to add extra swirls through the bowls of anyone who wishes for more.
One of the most common ingredients that get wasted are salad leaves. The mixed bags of salad leaves really don’t stay fresh long, really they should be eaten within 3 days. So if you don’t get around to eating a salad, perhaps the weather changed and you were more in the mood for a hot meal, there are a few ways you can use them up in a different way. Whatever you do, don’t throw that bag of slightly sad looking leaves away! Salad leaves can be blended into a soup in place of spinach or watercress or make this very flexible salad bag pesto! If you have any fresh herbs around the place, chuck some of those in too.
Read more about food waste in my blog post on the subject here. Liz x
- mixed salad leaves (and odds an ends of fresh herbs if available)
- sunflower and pumpkin seeds (or any nuts or seeds you like)
- olive oil
- nutritional yeast (or odds and ends of cheese)
I’ve deliberated not given amounts as pesto is a very fluid recipe. You can taste and adjust it as you go. You should aim to have around half the volume of the mixture as nuts or seeds. So if you have about a mug full of salad leaves that need using, toast about half a mug of nuts or seeds.
Toast the nuts or seeds in a dry frying pan to bring out their flavour. Allow them to cool.
The put them in a food processor. I used a blender because my food processor is broken – it works ok but I prefer a food processor for pesto because I don’t want the mixture to be too smooth in the end.
Add a crushed or grated glove of garlic, a shake of nutritional yeast, a big pinch of salt and all the salad leaves.
Then add lemon juice (you can add the zest of the lemon too if you like, or save it in the freezer for something else). Start with a small amount of lemon juice, you can always add more later.
Add a very generous amount of olive oil. A quality extra virgin olive oil is best for pesto.
Pulse the mixture, scrape down the sides and pulse again until you reach a loose, rough paste. Add more olive oil as you go if needed.
Taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt of lemon juice as you like. Then store in a clean jar in the fridge. To make it last longer, cover it with a thin layer of olive oil to protect it from the air. Use it up within a week.
Pesto is not just for pasta! Use it for a dip, stir it into hummus or mayo, spread it into wraps or sandwiches, toss it through roasted veg or steamed greens, dollop it on your grainy salads…