I USED TO HAVE A MENTAL BLOCK ABOUT RISOTTO. I’D HEARD OF SO MANY VERSIONS AND SO MANY METHODS. THEY ALL SOUNDED SO COMPLICATED.
Then I saw a recipe from my favorite food gurus at Ottolenghi. They had a version with aubergine and lemon. It sounded so divine, I had to try it. In the process, I made my first risotto. Believe me, it’s not that hard.
Here’s the Ottolenghi version. I tend to simplify and change all the Ottolenghi recipes. This time, I didn’t feel the need. It’s pretty perfect. I just added more of the ingredients for a bolder flavor. Once you learn the basic method, you can replace the aubergine and lemon with ANY veggies you want. Mushroom, asparagus and beans are all classic versions.
**The MOST IMPORTANT TIP for risotto is to get all your ingredients ready first. AND make sure you heat your stock in a pan close to your risotto pan. Then all you have to do is pop on your fave tunes (including my picks at the bottom of this recipe), and get cooking!
HERE’S MY TAKE:
- 2 medium aubergine/eggplants (1 roasted, 1 diced)
- 3/4 cup olive oil (you may need a bit more)
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 cup risotto rice (arborio rice)
- 1 cup white wine
- 3 1/2 cups hot vegetable stock (heat 4 cups; you may need it)
- zest and juice of 1 lemon (extra lemon, if you want for serving)
- 1½ tablespoons butter
- 2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese (a bit more for garnish, if desired)
- sea salt and black pepper
*Don’t forget to scroll down for your Savory Sounds cooking soundtrack.
- Roast one of the aubergines. The easiest way to do this it to put the aubergine straight on the flame on a gas stove. Keep rotating it with tongs until wrinkly all over. It takes about 10 minutes. Alternatively, pierce the aubergine with a sharp knife in several places. Place on a foil-lined tray and place under a hot broiler, turning periodically. This may take up to 40-45 minutes.
- Remove from the stove or oven. Cut a slit lengthways in the aubergine and scoop out the soft flesh, avoiding the burnt skin. Put in a bowl and set aside.
- Dice the second aubergine roughly in 1-inch squares. Heat 1/2 cup of the olive oil in a frying pan and brown the augbergine until golden and crisp. Transfer to a colander, sprinkle with salt and leave to cool.
- Heat the remaining oil in a heavy-based pan, then saute the onion until translucent. Add the crushed garlic and through for a couple of minutes.
- Turn up the heat. Add the rice and stir well. Add the wine and cook for two to three minutes more or until all the alcohol has evaporated (you won’t smell the alcohol anymore).
- Turn down the heat to medium. Add a ladle of hot stock to the rice, then stir until it is absorbed, then repeat, stirring all the while. You may need to use all 4 cups. Make sure the rice is cooked. This will take 10-15 minutes.
- Remove the pot from the heat, add the lemon juice, zest, the smoky aubergine pulp, butter and a big pinch of salt and some pepper (I use a lot). Stir, cover and leave for five minutes.
- Taste and add more salt if you like. This is purely optional, but I also squeeze some fresh lemon over the whole dish.
- Serve the risotto in a bowls with some of the diced aubergine and freshly grated Parmesan, if desired.
I’M GOING THROUGH A LACK-OF-NEW-MUSIC PHASE. SO I’VE BEEN DIGGING UP SOME “OLD” TUNES FROM MY PLAYLISTS FOR COOKING INSPIRATION.
I’m starting with this one from Blackstreet.
This is one of those old club hits that you think will annoy you, but stays in your head.
And this is a completely different vibe — a Daft Punk produced Kavinsky track.