… it was undeniably good to be back home this long weekend. Two weekends away from the cottage and my skin begins to crawl. Don’t get me wrong, I love the city but there’s something about being able to see the landscape and sky that i’ve not only grown to love over the years of living in Belleau but that I also feel is now deep-rooted inside of me. My sister Matti is over from New York where she’s studying and we travelled up from London on the train this weekend and even as the train pulled away from the built up areas around the city I began to feel my spirits lift. As you know i’ve been suffering badly with my back and I can now feel the pain gently lifting away as I breathe in the country air. I am convinced the human brain is conditioned to see further than the building opposite so I would recommend to anyone stuck in a rut or feeling under the weather to simply take a train out of the city, even if you don’t get off other than to turn around and come back, it’s worth it just to be able to take a look at the horizon… squint a little into the distance… and breathe…
asparagus and cavolo nero risotto
as you all know I am currently conditioning my body for my #AlternativeEatingPlan. Despite the set-backs of back pain and common cold I am actually doing quite well and have lost a few nasty pounds gained over the winter… there’s still quite a bit to go but what i’ve found is that i’m doing really well during the week and then allowing myself some special treats at the weekend such as this delightful risotto. I’d hardly say this was bad for me, in fact it’s so packed with glorious green goodness that it’s positively healthy but of course it’s also rather steep on the carbs but i’m going to be gallant about it and enjoy the food.
I adore risotto and love making it. I don’t find it a chore at all and infant I love standing there stirring and watching it come together as the starches break down in the rice and the whole thing becomes thick and creamy… because it’s such an easy thing to make I tend not to blog about it too much for fear of repetition but this one was such a glorious dish I simply had to share and I always find that there’s bound to be someone out there who’s not turned their hand to a risotto…
as you’ll see from the ingredients this is a bit of a left-over dish using those veg that didn’t make it into dishes elsewhere so bare with the slightly eccentric collection of spring greens!
a little butter and olive oil
5 spring onions -roughly chopped
2 baby leeks – roughly chopped (or use one small leek)
1/2 fennel bulb – finely diced
250g risotto rice – arborio rice is my preferred grain
1 glass white white
1 litre good quality vegetable stock (use the water from steaming the vegetables)
1 bunch of fresh British asparagus – cut into chunks
5 or 6 stems of tenderstem broccoli – cut into chunks
9 or 10 leaves of cavolo nero cabbage – sliced into bite size strips
at least 100g of hard cheese such as parmesan or strong cheddar, I actually used a little of both and probably a little more than 100g
first place the asparagus and broccoli into a steamer and steam for 4 mins, then take off the heat, place in the cavolo nero and set aside for another 5 mins, then drain away the water for stock and set the veg aside
in a large pan gently heat plenty of butter and olive oil then sauce the spring onions, leeks and fennel until soft – you don’t want them to brown, they should be at that lovely translucent stage.
add the rice and stir around to coat all the grains in leeky, buttery loveliness then turn up the heat a little and throw in the white wine and begin to gently stir
add the stock a cup at a time, stirring gently between each addition… at first the rice will soak up the stock quite greedily as you stir but after the fourth or fifth addition of stock it will take longer and the risotto should be creamier
when you’ve used up 2 thirds of the stock throw in a handful of grated cheese between each addition of stock and continue to stir. Once all the stock is gone your rice should be tender. This should take roughly 25 minutes but it can sometimes be quicker. Don’t have the heat on too high at any point but not too low either, it’s a fine balance.
add the remaining cheese and the steamed vegetables and stir together then set aside for a few minutes before serving to let it all settle
eat and of course, enjoy!