This is a recipe more or less pinched from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Year book. The only difference is I tend to use basic ingredients and faff around less . Parsnip is lovely and sweet, which is often a good thing when it comes to feeding children. My lot scoffed their dinner last night without a single question. I estimate that it cost about £2 to make enough for my family of 2 adults and three young children (there must have been easily enough for 4 adults). You could add a bit more if you like grated parmesan cheese on top.
350g Arborio Risotto Rice
1 onion, finely diced
approximately 6 medium parsnips with the woody core removed and diced
1-2 cloves or garlic
150g frozen peas
vegetable stock (I think it was about a litre but I could be way off there)
Cook the onion, garlic and parsnip in a large pan on a fairly low heat with the lid on, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Hopefully you will be softening them without adding colour and retaining plenty of moisture at the same time.
While you are doing this, get your stock ready. I make mine with either oxo cubes or powdered vegetable boullon. I make it in a jug and don’t worry about keeping it boiling like the purists say you should.
Now add the rice and stir it well. I’m sure traditional risotto recipes get you to gently cook the rice in butter etc but I just make sure it’s well stirred in.
Add a good slosh of stock and stir well. You should have just about covered the rice.
Keep the lid on the pan and let it simmer away gently but keep checking on it and giving it a stir – YOU DON”T WANT IT TO STICK TO THE PAN!!!
When the first lot of stock has been mostly absorbed, add the peas and another slosh of stock. If you are inexperienced with risotto you will have to add smaller amounts of stock and keep checking it more often. If you are used to making it you will probably have a handle on how much stock it will take to cook your rice.
Keep adding stock, stirring the rice and testing it regularly until the liquid is mostly absorbed and the rice is cooked. It should be soft but still retain a bit of ‘bite’. It will be sticky – that is a good thing. Add salt and pepper if you like it.
Serve in a nice bowl with some parmesan cheese on top and a side salad or some steamed green vegetables.
The great thing about risotto is that you can fling pretty much anything at it. I think I added a little chopped red pepper last night. If you had some white wine that needed using up you could replace some of the stock with that. This is a good dinner for one – just use less of everything. If you like to prepare your meal in advance, you can chop the vegetables, measure out the rice and probably make the stock too. Then all you need to do is put it together and keep stirring. I must have done this many times with a baby on one hip (probably not a good idea really, either for you spine or the risk of burns). Finally, if you are feeding a baby or toddler it can be a good meal to practice using a spoon. The rice is so sticky that generally it stays put when they try to feed themselves.
Sorry this recipe is a bit vague. That’s the way I like them. Enjoy.