Orzo with Peas, Bacon and Parmesan

My peas are a disaster this year. Usually my fail-safe crop at the allotment, they started off well but not enough water and too much sun meant that they were over far too soon, and instead of harvesting peas until the end of July, mine were all but done by the end of June. Luckily Riverford still have a good supply. Here is a recipe to pay homage to them before they are over for another year – Orzo with Bacon, Peas and Parmesan Cheese.

I always forget about Orzo.  It sort of has the texture of something between tiny Gnocchi and perfectly cooked rice – something I am still striving to achieve!  This recipe took me about 10 minutes to make from start to finish and made a fantastic family lunch.  Quicker and less fattening than Risotto, I most certainly will be using a lot more of it

Orzo with Peas, Bacon and Parmesan

2 Tablespoons olive oil

200g Streaky Bacon, cut in small lardons

150g orzo pasta

1 1/4 cup fresh peas

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Little Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Salt

Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Fry the bacon in a little oil, over a medium heat until really crispy.  Remove from the heat.  Cook the Orzo in plenty of salted, boiling water.  If using fresh peas, add after about 3 minutes, if using frozen peas, add after about 6 minutes.  Bring back to the boil and cook for about 6-7 minutes in total.  Drain when cooked and add to the bacon.  Use the oil from the bacon to coat the pasta and add the Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste.  Garnish with young pea shoots if you have any.

Asparagus, Broad Bean and Pea Salad with Farro, Feta and Baby Spinach, Crisp Prosciutto

Whilst lurking around in an Italian deli last week in Putney, I stumbled upon the whole selection of the Bartolini Range.  Up until that moment I had only known of their Farro Perlato, but it appears that they have a brilliant selection of lovely pulses, pastas and cereals all from Umbria.  I bought some lovely looking Borlotti Beans, Cannellini Beans and Chickpeas as well as Orecchiette and Trofie Pasta.

Farro is the Italian word for Emmer wheat. It is a wheat grain, actually a kernel, that resembles barley and is specifically grown in Italy but grows wild in the Middle East.  It is hulled but not “polished” and therefore retains a rustic character both in taste and consistency. Like the other grains in the wheat family, Spelt and Kamut, Farro is botanically closer to ancient varieties of grains and has a high vitamin, mineral and fiber content.

Anyway, I love the stuff and often put it into all sorts of soups. But it works equally well in salads too.

Asparagus, Broad Bean and Pea Salad with Farro, Feta and Baby Spinach, Crisp Prosciutto

1 Bunch of Asparagus, snap off ends and cut the rest into 1 inch pieces

200g podded Broad Beans, (or frozen)

200g shelled peas, (or frozen)

100g Farro

100g Feta

Large handful of Baby Spinach

4 slices of Prosciutto or Parma Ham

Mint

Lemons

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

First cook your Farro in plenty of salted boiling water until cooked and nice and chewy.  Drain and allow to cool.  Whilst still warm dress with a dressing make of some freshly squeezed lemon juice, some extra virgin olive oil and lots of salt and pepper.  Allow to cool completely.

Cook the asparagus in lots of salted boiling water for about 3 minutes, until tender. Remove and refresh in lots of cold water.  Next put the peas in the water.  Bring it back to the boil and cook until tender.  Refresh.  Finally cook the Broad Beans in the water and cook for about 3-5 minutes.  Refresh and shell when cool. Place your slices of Ham on some tin foil and bake for about 10 minutes in a medium hot oven until crisp.  Remove and allow to cool.

Finally mix the Farro with the asparagus, broad beans, peas and freshly chopped mint.  Check for seasoning.  Just before serving toss through some baby spinach leaves.  Pile onto a large plate.  Crumble the feta on top and finally crumble the crisp ham over.

Save

Navarin of Lamb with Broad Beans, Asparagus, Peas and Mint

Last week it was all summer fruits and ice-cream and salads and then the weather changed. I was almost tempted to turn the heating on – in June – as the temperatures plummeted and the rain lashed at the windows. Forget the ice-cream, it was back to stew weather. But what stew do you eat in June. A Navarin of lamb of course packet with lots of tender, young spring vegetables and lots of vibrant fresh mint. So delicious you could forget about the awful weather!

Navarin of Lamb with Broad Beans, Asparagus, Peas and Mint

The vegetables are flexible here – use what you have. Tender new seasons carrots, little spring onion heads or French beans all work well.

Serves: 4

Extra virgin olive oil

2 large onions or leeks, chopped

A couple of sticks of celery, finely chopped

2 garlic clove, finely chopped

450 g (1 lb) lean boneless leg of lamb, trimmed of fat and cut into cubes

150 ml (5 fl oz) red wine

450 ml (15 fl oz) lamb or chicken stock (or use good quality stock cubes)

1 or 2bay leaves

A few sprigs of fresh rosemary, very finely chopped

Baby new potatoes, scrubbed (cut into bite sized pieces if large)

Small turnips, scrubbed and quartered

Bunch of asparagus, cut into even sized pieces about ½ cm

Large handful of shelled fresh peas

Large handful of shelled broad beans

Fresh mint

Heat some oil in a large heavy bottomed saucepan. Add the seasoned lamb, in batches so as not to over crowd the pan. Brown evenly on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon. Turn down the heat of the pan and add the chopped onion, celery and garlic and cook, stirring, for 5-10 minutes or until softened. Scrape the browned bits of lamb of the bottom of the saucepan and stir them into the veg. Add the cubes of lamb back to the pan with the wine, rosemary, bay leaf and stock

Bring to the boil, then cover and turn the heat down. Let it gently bubble away for 1 hour.

Meanwhile boil the broad beans for three minutes and then plunge them into cold water. Shell.

Add the turnips and potatoes to the stew and stir. Cover the casserole again and continue cooking for 30–45 minutes or until the meat and vegetables are tender. Next add the peas and asparagus and cook until just done. Finally add the broad beans and mint. Check seasoning and serve.

A Modern Petits Pois à la Française

I love growing peas. They are so perfect from begging to end. The flowers are so pretty and there is nothing nicer than seeing the kids picking the pods and popping sweet, young peas straight into their mouths.

This Petits Pois à la Française is a classic dish of braised peas, but I like to make a rather more modern version, cooking it for much less time to keep it fresh and vibrant, both in colour and taste.

A Modern Petits Pois à la Française

(serves 4)

75g butter

1 large cos lettuce (I used Batavia)

400g freshly podded peas

The white part of 6 spring onions, sliced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Large pinch of sugar

Several mint sprigs

Wash and drain the lettuce.Melt the butter in a large, stainless-steel pan. Add the spring onion and fry for a few minutes without any colour. Add the peas and the lettuce to the pan with a pinch of salt, freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of sugar (optional). The peas should cook in the water released from the lettuce whilst it braises. This should only take a few minutes. If necessary, add a dash of water. When the peas are cooked and the lettuce wilted, add the mint sprigs. Check seasoning. Serve warm.

Save

Save

Nutty Superfood Salad

It is so much easier to eat healthily in the Summer I find. I actually crave salad, whereas in the Winter I crave stodge. Occasionally I pick up lunch on my way home from work, before I pick up the kids. Unfortunately, in my line of work, your job is to cook other people lunch, not cook or eat your own! Marks and Spencer is probably best for ready-made salads. Although I know that Waitrose also do a range. Most of the ones I have tried, may sound nice, but are usually disgusting. They always seem to try just a bit too hard, chucking in any combination of trendy ingredients – black quinoa seeds, Camargue red rice, cranberries, amaranth leaf, black barley –  and the dressings are always really nasty – too much japenese rice vinegar and Yuzu!.

The other day I bought a selection of two different salads, both which unannounced contained seaweed!  Surely if you are going to add seaweed to your salad, you would mention it in the name, not just hidden in a long list of ingredients which are far too small to read with human eyes. Well my eyes anyway. I couldn’t work out what this slimy, sort off-fishy taste was in my salad. Narrowed it down to the Wakame which was eventually mentioned in the list of 30 ingredients, now that I had been forced to put my reading glasses on. I even like seaweed, on say nori rolls, where it is meant to be, but this was disgusting and both pots of salad ended up in the bin. However, I am pleased to say, after much trial and error, I finally found a ready-made salad that I really liked. Marks and Spencer Nutty Superfood Salad. Featuring green beans, peas, broccoli, carrots, black-eyed beans and quinoa plus peanuts, almonds and pistachios, it is absolutely packed with delicious ingredients. It comes two ways, either on its own or served alongside a dollop of cannellini bean hummus and with a soy and ginger.

It may seem like a lot of ingredients, but it is super easy. Make up a large batch and dress it as required. What is so fab about making it yourself, is you don’t have to skimp on your favourite expensive ingredients, which inevitably the supermarkets always do!

Nutty Superfood Salad 1

Nutty Superfood Salad

To serve 4

2 Broccoli florets, shredded

1 Handful of peas

100g French beans, cut into 1 inch pieces

1 large carrot, finely chopped

100g spelt (wheatberries, barley or farro) you can buy ready cooked

100g soya beans

200g cooked black eye beans (or another type of bean – haricot, cannallini)

50g quinoa (You can buy ready cooked)

1 tsp. poppy seeds

1 handful pumpkin seeds

1 handful peanuts

1 handful pistachios

1 handful almonds

A little freshly chopped coriander

For the dressing, mix together:

2 tbsp. soy

1 tsp grated ginger

1 tsp sesame

1 tsp honey

Juice ½ lime

½ tsp. chilli paste

Put three pans of water on to boil. In the first add the quinoa. Cook 12-15 minutes until all the quinoa has gone squiggly. Drain well. In the second add the farro, cook for 20-30 minutes until tender. Drain well. In the third pan, add a pinch of salt and then the green beans. When cooked, add the shredded broccoli, bring back to the boil and add the peas and soya beans. Bring back to the boil and drain. Drain well.

Combine the salad ingredients.

Mix the dressing ingredients together and drizzle over each portion or alternatively, toss through the entire lot in a large bowl.

Nutty Superfood Salad

Soupe au Pistou

I never like to admit it, but I am a bit behind on my veg box. I seem to have been so busy with work and kids and endless things that they need for school before the end on term, that I am constantly pushed for time. This is one of my favourite soups, a French version of the better known Minestrone. I first remember seeing Soupe au Pistou in Marie Claire magazine probably about 30 years ago, when the food writer was a little known guy called Nigel Slater. I can still remember the photos and it looked so simple yet sophisticated.

What is great is, although it takes a little time to make what with all the chopping, it uses up lots of veg. You can be experimental with the ingredients but I piled in heaps of onion, celery, carrots, courgettes and broad beans.

If you too are pushed for time you can buy ready cooked beans and even buy some good quality pesto rather than make your own.

Soupe au Pistou

Soupe au Pistou

Try to have all the vegetables diced about the same size, which makes for a nice presentation. Of course, you can vary the vegetables according to what’s available. If you wish to use canned beans, use 1 400g tin on haricot or cannellini beans. For vegans, leave out the Parmesan.

For the soup

1 cup (200g) dried beans (haricot or cannellini) or 400g tin of beans

2 bay leaves

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium onions, peeled and diced, or 4 leeks, cleaned and sliced

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or dried oregano

2 medium carrots, peeled and diced

2 medium courgettes, diced

200g shelled  broad beans

200g fresh shelled peas (or frozen)

6 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced or thinly slice

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

100g dried pasta; any small variety will do, such as orzo, vermicelli, elbows, or shells

For the pistou

1 large clove of garlic, peeled

pinch of salt

2 cups (40g) packed fresh basil leaves

1/4 cup (60ml) olive oil

1 small tomato; peeled, seeded, and diced

1 1/2 ounces (45g) Parmesan cheese, grated

Rinse and sort the beans. Soak the beans overnight covered in cold water. The next day, drain the beans and put them in a large saucepan with the bay leaves and enough water to cover the beans. Cook the beans for about an hour, or until tender, adding more water if necessary to keep them immersed. Once cooked, remove the beans from the heat and set aside. Alternatively use 1 tin of canned cannellini or haricot beans.

In a large heavy bottomed saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the onions or leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent. Add the thyme or marjoram, diced carrots, zucchini, garlic, and salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are completely cooked. Add the cooked beans and their liquid, then the peas and pasta, plus 2 2l water. Bring the soup to a boil, and simmer a few minutes until the pasta is cooked. Bring a small pan of water to the boil and boil the broad beans for 1-2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and plunge into cold water to refresh. Slip the broad beans out of their outer shell. When the soup is cooked, check the seasoning and add the broad beans.

While the soup is cooking, make the pistou. Pound the garlic to a paste in a mortar and pestle (or use a food processor) with a generous pinch of salt. Coarsely chop the basil leaves and pound them into the garlic until the mixture is relatively smooth.Drizzle in the olive oil slowly, while pounding, then pound in the tomato and cheese. Taste, and season with more salt if desired.

To serve: Ladle hot soup into bowls and add a generous spoonful of pistou to the centre and swirl gently. Keep extra pistou within reach because you’ll likely want to add more to the soup as you go.

Note: If the soup is too thick, thin it with additional water.

Courgettes

Summer Minestrone (Minestrone Estivo)

First broad beans of the year turned up in my box this week. It is always so exciting to get the first of the seasons, like meeting a long lost friend. I realized these were the first broad beans of the year, which I was shelling when I discovered that I could no longer shell in my usual way. (I am a confirmed and devout double podder.) My finger, which I trapped in a door back in last November, had subsequently lost its nail and although it has almost nearly regrown, it was still not quite long enough for broad bean shelling. As a result, I have had to adapt and learn to do it left handed.

There is no better homage to new season’s vegetables than The River Cafe’s Summer Minestrone from their fantastic first book. It is not strictly a Minestrone at all as it contains no dried beans, pasta or bacon and I was full of apprehension when I came to make it again, as the recipe seemed so simple and I had not tasted since I was working there, about 20 years ago.  I remembered it being the most stunning soup and I was anxious that it was not going to live up to its memory. I felt it wasn’t quite “room temperature soup” weather yet so I served mine warmish. I needn’t had worried – it was absolutely delicious. I even managed to find it still on The River Cafe’s Summer Menu on their website, and at £12.50 a bowl, it damn well should be!

You can make your own pesto or buy a good quality one. Riverford stock an organic one, but I have included a recipe, just in case you happen to find yourself overwhelmed by a glut of basil.

Summer Minestrone (Minestrone Estivo)

Summer Minestrone (Minestrone Estivo)

The River Cafe Cook Book

This Recipe Serves 10

I halved the recipe and had enough for 6. Also, as I was making it for a Vegetarian, I just used water instead of chicken stock and it was just as delicious. As I said, I like double podding my broad beans, so I blanched them first and shelled them again, before adding right at the end to keep their super spring green colour.

2 garlic cloves peeled and chopped
1 small head celery, chopped
3 small red onions, peeled and chopped
4 tablespoons olive oil
900g thin asparagus trimmed and cut into 1cm pieces using only tips and tender parts
450g young green beans ,trimmed and chopped
450g peas, shelled
900g broad beans, shelled
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1L chicken stock
1/2 bunch basil finely chopped (or marjoram or mint)
300ml double cream
150g Parmesan freshly grated
120ml pesto

In a heavy sauce pan fry the garlic celery and onion gently in the olive oil until soft about 10 minutes.

Divide all other vegetables between two bowls. Add half to the onion mixture and cook stirring to coat with oil for a further 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover with chicken stock and bring to the boil. Simmer for 30 minutes.

Add the remaining vegetables and cook for a further 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the herbs, cream, Parmesan and pesto. Stir to cool at room temperature,  then serve.

Herb Box

Pesto

½ a clove of garlic, chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 good handfuls of fresh basil, leaves picked and chopped
A handful of pine nuts, very lightly toasted
A good handful of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Extra virgin olive oil
Optional
A small squeeze of lemon juice

Pound the garlic with a little pinch of salt and the basil leaves in a pestle and mortar, or pulse in a food processor. Add a bit more garlic if you like, but I usually stick to ½ a clove. Add the pine nuts to the mixture and pound again. Turn out into a bowl and add half the Parmesan. Stir gently and add olive oil – you need just enough to bind the sauce and get it to an good consistency.

Season to taste, then add most of the remaining cheese. Pour in some more oil and taste again. Keep adding a bit more cheese or oil until you are happy with the taste and consistency. You may like to add a squeeze of lemon juice at the end but it’s not essential. Try it with and without and see which you prefer.

Broad beand shelled

Quick and Easy Baked Vegetable Samosas

Next up this week, a really quick and easy version of Vegetable Samosas. The idea is to be able to knock these up for a quick lunch or for the kids lunch-boxes, so I am not expecting you to make your own samosa pastry. Samosa pastry is readily available in oriental supermarkets in the freezer section but I wanted to try them out with Filo.

I have been giving a lot of thought to good fats recently and I am always questioning what is the best fat to use when cooking? It is a bit of a minefield out there of information at the moment. When I was growing up they told us butter was bad and margarine was best. Now there has been a complete reversal of opinion apart from, rather worryingly, the NHS.

This time it was a tossup between butter and coconut oil. Olive oil, my usual oil of choice, was not appropriate for samosas and I am very anti-vegetable oil. Health wise, butter and coconut oil are both in a similar boat. Once considered bad boys for their high content of saturated fat, (coconut oil has a much higher ration of saturated fat to butter) opinion seems to have changed. It is now considered that it is more important that they are low in omega 6, compared to vegetable oils which are very high. Our bodies need Omega 6 and Omega 3 but in equal ratios. Unfortunately, we are consuming far too much Omega 6 and not enough Omega 3 and vegetable oil is the main culprit. I now try and use primarily olive oil (high in omega 3), then butter (grass fed cows are also a good source of Omega 3) and finally coconut oil which contains no Omega 3, but neither does it contain Omega 6 and it can withstand high heats and adds a great flavour. Just use them in small amounts!

Taking all this into consideration, I decided to use Coconut oil for flavour BUT to bake my samosas instead of frying, to dramatically reduce the amount of oil I was using.

Finally, a note on frozen peas. I know I shouldn’t be telling all you seasonal veg enthusiasts, striving to eat fresh and local produce but to me, a samosa needs peas, even in the winter. But you can add any vegetables you like.

Samosas

Vegetable Samosas
If cooking for the kids, omit the chilli. To avoid any bad fats, you might want to make your own pastry.
Coconut oil
400 g Maris Piper (or similar floury) potatoes
250 g cauliflower
125 g frozen peas
2 onions
2 cloves of garlic
Large knob of fresh ginger
1 fresh green chilli
2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon ground cardamom seeds
½ a lemon, juice from
Bunch of fresh coriander
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Peel and chop the potatoes into rough 1cm chunks. Break the cauliflower into similar sized florets as the potato. Add the potatoes to a large pan of salted water and bring to the boil. When nearly cooked, about 8 minutes, add the, adding the cauliflower and after a further 3 minutes add the peas. Bring back to the boil and cook for a final minute, then drain.

Meanwhile, peel and finely chop the onion. Peel the garlic and grate finely. Scrape the skin off the the ginger and finely grate. Deseed and finely chop the chilli. Heat some coconut oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat, and add the onion. Cook for 5 minutes or so until translucent and pale. Add the garlic, ginger and chilli and the spices and a teaspoon of salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Cook for a minute or two more and add the drained vegetables. Squeeze in the lemon juice and season to taste. Stir in the chopped coriander. Taste again. Add more spices or chilli to taste.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4. Lightly grease a large baking tray with oil.

Lay out the filo pastry and cut it in half lengthways. Take your first sheet and brush with some melted coconut oil. Spoon in the filling right down one end and fold over in triangular turns until you reach the other end. (Please see youtube link.) Finally brush with a little more coconut oil and place on a lined baking sheet. Bake in the oven for around 25-30 minutes, or until golden and piping hot through. Serve straightaway if possible.

Making Samosas 4

Making Samosas 3

Making Samosas

Making Samosas 2

Chorizo & Vegetable Paella

Finally moved in to my new house and my new kitchen is twice the size, so I can’t wait to get cooking. Finding the time however, with a long list of jobs to be done, is another thing – boxes to be unpacked, pictures to be hung, curtains put up and internet set up. I wander from room to room and the list grows, no one can find any of their possessions so the house rings out with cries of “Where is my swimming costume, rugby boots or Ballet shoes” and even simple everyday tasks seem to take twice as long.

Still, everybody still needs feeding and hopefully some warm, nourishing food will calm the fraying nerves. I opted for a Small veg box (less roots) with red spring onions, sweet potatoes, french beans, savoy cabbage, red pepper and sweetcorn and set about cooking some quick and easy meals to feed the whole family.

First up a Chorizo and Vegetable Paella which is a really adaptable recipe and can be vegetarian too if you leave out the chorizo but I have to say, I prefer mine with at least some meat or fish. It is lovely to throw in some mussels or prawns or some chicken, whatever takes your fancy but it is a great use up of vegetables too – onions, peppers, any beans, I used French but you could use runner beans, sugar snap peas or course the classic peas.

In my time-saving, quick and easy mentality that I am trying to adopt at present, I chose ready diced Iberico Chorizo which saved me loads of time. And I am not going to even pretend that I made chicken stock – for the time being stock cubes will do!

Paella Cooking

Chorizo & Vegetable Paella
Serves 3
Olive oil, preferably Spanish
1 onion, finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic, very finely chopped
120g chorizo, ready diced
2 red pepper, cut in half, deseeded and cut into thin slices widthways
2 cube chicken stock
2 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
1 pinch of Saffron
200 g paella rice
100 g French beans, cut into 1” pieces
15 g fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 lemon

Put a glug of oil into a large heavy bottomed shallow casserole or paella pan on a medium heat, add the onion and fry for around 10 minutes, stirring regularly until completely soft. Add the chorizo and fry to release the oil. Next add the garlic and red peppers and fry for a further 5 minutes. Meanwhile dissolve the stock cubes in 1 litre of boiling water and add the saffron. Next add your rice to the peppers with a good pinch of salt and the smoked paprika. Pour in ¾ of the stock (you will probably need all of it, but just in case.) Let it bubble away gently, stirring from time to time to avoid sticking. Top up with more stock if it becomes dry and the rice is still raw. While the paella is cooking, boil the beans for a few minutes until cooked and then refresh. After 30 minutes, check the rice is tender and cook a little longer if needed. Season to perfection, stir in the beans and then chop the parsley leaves, scatter them over the paella, and serve with lemon wedges on the side for squeezing over.

Red Pepper

Spring Risotto in Summer!

Having dealt with the Kohl Rabi, next I turned my attention to the peas and broad beans and “Risotto” immediately sprang to mind. This is a popular choice in my house as it is one of the few dishes that the whole family can agree upon as liking unanimously without an argument – which is always a relief.

It was only when I started to grow my own vegetables that it occurred to me that what I thought as Spring vegetables where not actually ready until early Summer. Although asparagus and broad beans are the  first, closely followed by peas, without poly-tunnels and greenhouses you would be lucky to have any to hand by the end of April! Risotto however is of course an Italian dish and clearly Spring in Italy is somewhat warmer and more reliable than our own!

There are so many varieties you can make but here are a few key points to making it always delicious.

• You do not have to stir constantly for 20 minutes but remember that in stirring you are banging the grains of rice together which is what releases the starch and makes your risotto creamy.
• Always use a good quality rice – Arborio or Carnaroli
• Fry the bacon until really crispy – no one wants gristly bits of bacon in their Risotto
• Use good quality stock – homemade is best but it is fine to use bought stock (Riverford make their own) or good stock cubes like Kallo Organic.
• Always use butter, not olive oil. Risotto traditionally comes from the North of Italy where butter is readily available. (There are exceptions such as Artichoke risotto which is a Southern Italian dish and uses olive oil instead.)
• Everyone is always worried about overcooking risotto and making it mushy but an undercooked, chalky risotto is even worse!
• Add enough stock – it should be creamy, not stodgy.
• Season during cooking so that the rice absorbs the salt and it does not just coat the outside.
• Always add hot stock during cooking.

Pea, Broad Bean and Bacon Risotto

Pea, Broad Bean and Bacon Risotto
This is based on a Risotto Primavera, which means Spring Risotto and any spring vegetables can be used. Remember that Spring in Italy is more like Summer in England!
Serves 4
200g shelled broad beans
200g shelled peas
250g /16 rashers smoked streaky bacon cut into lardons (optional)
1 large onions (chopped very small)
1.5 – 2  pints good quality chicken or vegetable stock, preferably homemade or stock cube
100g butter
300g Risotto rice
100 mls dry white wine
100g Parmesan, finely grated

Drop the broad beans into boiling water and cook for 3 minutes, then drain and cool under cold water. Peel off the skins. Pour the stock into a pan and bring to a simmer.

Heat 3/4 the butter in a heavy, wide pan and add the bacon and fry cook until crisp. Tip in the onions and cook very slowly for 10 minutes until soft and see-through, but not brown, stirring often. Add the rice and stir with a wooden spoon for a few minutes so it gets coated, but not coloured. Pour in the wine. Keep stirring for about a minute until the wine has evaporated. Now add 1-2 ladles of stock at a time stirring until all the liquid is absorbed, scraping the sides of the pan to catch any stray bits of rice. Continue to stir and add a ladleful of stock once the previous amount has been absorbed. The rice tells you when it needs more stock. Check for seasoning. Homemade stock has no salt – stock cubes are full of it, so season to taste but add early on so that the salt absorbs into the rice.

After about 15 minutes add the peas to the rice. Check seasoning. The rice should take another 5 minutes or so. Try the rice every few minutes – when done it should be softened, but with a bit of bite, almost chewy, and the risotto creamy – overcooking just makes it mushy but make sure your rice is not still chalky. Continue adding stock and stirring until done. Add the broad beans. Take the pan off the heat, add 3/4 of the parmesan and the rest of the butter. Put the lid on the pan and leave for 3 minutes to rest. Serve with the remaining Parmesan.

Broad beand shelled