risotto

Pea, Broad Bean and Courgette summer risotto

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A good risotto is a great dish to showcase seasonal ingredients from all parts of the world. Lia’s pea, broad bean and courgette summer risotto is inspired by Blaencamel farm’s seasonal, organic vegetable box and a popular Greek blogger video (Cucina Caruso) summing up the correct method for an authentic Italian risotto step by step. The result is a risotto recipe where Greece meets Wales and Italy in one plate. 

Make sure you make time to enjoy the process of your risotto making selecting some nice music and a beautiful crisp white wine. Now more than ever we implore you to make time for the little joys in life and to enjoy the dolce vita. Eat seasonally, be positive and feel happy!

Order your seasonal Blaencamel veg box online http://www.blanecamelbox.com 

Ingredients (for 4 people as a main)

• 1 onion, finely chopped

• 125g butter

• 300g Arborio or other risotto rice

• 400g courgettes, coarsely grated

• 300g fresh peas and broad beans

• 1-1.5 litre vegetable stock

• 15 g fresh mint leaves

• 1 tbsp dry dill or the tips of half a small fresh bunch finely chopped

• 100 ml white wine

• Some extra virgin olive oil

• Salt

• Freshly ground pepper to serve

• Grated parmesan cheese

• Some unwaxed lemon zest

Preparation (40min)

1. Prepare the hot stock and add the herbs to infuse it during the first stages of risotto preparation.

2. Coat the surface of a wide and deep pan with just enough olive oil and add the 50g of butter.

3. Once the butter melts add the onion with a pinch of salt and slowly sauté on low heat until it caramelises.

4. Turn the heat up and stir in the rice. Sauté for a minute making sure that every grain is coated in butter.

5. Pour a ladle of the warm stock and stir whilst the rice slowly absorbs it. Only add another ladle of stock once the previous has been absorbed.

6. When one third of the way through the stock add the peas and broad beans together with another ladle of stock and stir until the rice absorbs it. To blanch the peas and beans place in in hot water off the hob for 5 minutes. You can skip blanching if you prefer the beans al dente.

7. Two thirds into the stock add the grated courgette, stirring and allowing the vegetable juice to slowly seep out flavouring the risotto.  

8. Then add the wine, stir and when it is absorbed continue adding the stock until you are left with one ladle.

9. Add the last ladle and immediately remove the risotto from the hob.

10. Add the rest of the butter(75g), stir and let the risotto set for a few minutes to create the creamy finish.

11. Serve this delicious risotto with grated parmesan, the grated rind of one lemon and freshly ground pepper.

Enjoy with a chilled glass of Greek Malagouzia/Malvasia or Assyrtiko white wine.

Spinach, chard and leek risotto

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In April return to Greece for culinary inspiration. This month’s recipe is a risotto dish much loved in my homeland and to make it I am using seasonal organic Greens from Blaencamel Farm in West Wales. The key difference of this Greek risotto, called ‘Spanako-rizo’ or ‘Spanakoprasó-rizo’ is that it is less complicated in its cooking process (when compared to its Italian cousin) and it uses a lot of greens as the star ingredient rather than focussing on making a creamy rice. Whilst the rice is also added before the water it does not follow the Italian risotto method and you add all the water at once simmering the rice slowly to complete the dish.

Traditionally this dish is made with a rice called Karolina. In the UK, you can find this in Greek specialty shops, but also on the shelves of many of the Middle Eastern shops where you should seek it as Egyptian Rice. It is a short grain variety which keeps its bite when compared to Arborio. If you cannot find Karolina/Egyptian rice why not try Thai Jasmin rice which I find is a great replacement for many Greek recipes. In fact, as I am not a purist, I recommend that you try this dish with all rice varieties to find your preferred version.

Chard is regarded a wild green in Greece and has traditionally been foraged. Now cultivated widely in farms such as Blaencamel it has become a staple of our diet in the UK. Which is why I am using it together with spinach. Its meatier leaves, organic spinach, delicious Welsh leeks, foraged wild garlic and wonderful onions complete this version of the dish. In fact, Blaencamel farm’s April box will include all the ingredients you need to make your Greek Risotto. A perfect gift of the emerging Spring time and a great dish to help your body detox the heavy flavours of winter!

Ingredients (4 portions)

  • 300g Blaencamel leeks (1 bunch), sliced
  • 450g spinach (1 bag), roughly chopped
  • 450g chard (1 bag), roughly chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 bunch wild garlic
  • ¾ cup of rice
  • Juice of one small lemon
  • 1 tsp. tomato paste
  • Up to 2 tsp. sea salt
  • ½ tsp. black ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp. sea buckthorn berries (optional)
  • 1 finely chopped bunch of dill or 1 tbsp tried dill
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Preparation (30 minutes)
1. Coat the base of a 20cm pot with olive oil and sauté the onion and leeks with one tsp of salt until soft and translucent.
2. Add the tomato paste and stir well.
3. Gradually add the chopped greens (spinach, chard, wild garlic) so that wilt slightly.
4. Add the raw rice and mix well.
5. If using chop the sea buckthorn berries roughly or crush and add to the rice and green.
6. Add the lemon juice, around two cups of boiling water, dill (if adding), another teaspoon of sea salt and the pepper.
7. Simmer for 20 minutes or until the water is absorbed.
8. Serve with more crushed sea buckthorn, some feta cheese and drizzle with raw olive oil.