I mentioned before that you can hardly ever have good risotto in a restaurant or a pub if it’s not run by a devoted Italian family.
I was embarrassed by Boyfriend’s father once in a very nice pub. As it happens, the only vegetarian option was mushroom risotto and based on my experience I expected it to be horrible. And it was. You couldn’t find mushrooms in it with a magnifying glass, tasted of nothing and it was overcooked. I bitched about it for 5 minutes, just because I love bitching. Then the waitress came and asked if we liked the food and Boyfriend’s dad said : ‘Yes, food was really good, apart from risotto, but that’s just because she can make it better’. I was afraid to have a desert because I expected them to spit in it. And who can blame them.
So, don’t make risotto if you can’t give all your attention, passion and love. Italians say you should only make risotto for people you love, and it’s true.
clove of garlic
arborio rice(half a glass for 2 people)
sage or thyme
small glass of white wine
water or vegetable stock ( about 2 pints)
2 spoons of olive oil
knob of butter
1. It’s always the same to start with – warm the oil in a pot, add knob of butter. Add crushed garlic. I’m not saying how much garlic, it depends if you want to scare all the vampires away (or your lover) or not. Entirely up to you. I worship garlic.
2. Never make risotto on a hot hob or high gas. As low as possible is the best. Remember, patience is a virtue. At least when it comes to risotto. You don’t want to burn it, make it too runny or undercooked.
3. At the same time, if you are a multitasker (if not, do it first) peel the butter squash, cut it into chunky squares, get rid of the seedy inside, grill the chunks. You can do it using the grill pan or the grill, it doesn’t take long.
4. In the meantime add risotto rice , stir it and let it be coated with oil, add some water or stock into the pan, stir, cover and wait till the liquid is absorbed.
5. Then add some more water, and repeat that until rice starts getting tender and thickens. Add wine (advice for recovering alcoholics and people who are teetotalers or who don’t drink for religious reasons or if you are cooking for children – use apple juice). I worship wine.
6. Then cook slowly till it thickens, add a pinch of salt, some pepper, sometimes I use sage and sometimes thyme, you can use any herbs you like.
7. Add roasted squash and lemon zest( from the whole lemon). You can add a few drops of lemon juice. It’s good to cover remaining lemon with cling film so it won’t get hard and dry without the skin.
8. Pre-warm your plates. Serve with vegetarian parmesan.