If you’re already dreaming about holidays abroad but still slimming into your bikini, this low-calorie risotto recipe is just the ticket!
In Italy, risotto is ‘slow food’ and you shouldn’t try to hurry it along – this dish needs to be cooked very gently and slowly, and will taste all the better for it. A perfect risotto should neither be soft and mushy nor crunchy – the rice should be comfortingly tender, moist and plump but still retaining a little ‘bite’.
Preparation: 15 minutes
Cooking: 25 minutes
- 300ml hot vegetable stock or LighterLife Savoury Stock
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 115g (4oz) Arborio or risotto rice
- 1/2 glass dry or medium dry white wine (optional)
- pinch of saffron (powdered or threads)
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 small courgettes, sliced
- 60g (2oz) baby asparagus
- 60g (2oz) shelled peas or mangetout
- 4 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 1 tablespooon low-fat crème fraîche
- 2 tablespoons coarsely grated Parmesan cheese
- salad and grilled cherry tomatoes on the vine, to serve (optional)
- Heat three tablespoons stock in a heavy-based frying pan. Add the onion and garlic and cook over a low heat for five minutes, until softened.
- Stir in the rice and cook for one minute, until the grains are glistening. Add the white wine (if using) and turn up the heat. Let the mixture bubble away until all the wine has evaporated.
- Add a little of the remaining hot stock, together with the saffron and black pepper, and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until all the liquid has been absorbed. Keep adding more stock in this way, a little at a time, until the rice is tender and creamy – this takes 15–20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cook the courgettes, asparagus and peas or mangetout in boiling water for two to three minutes. Drain well and stir gently into the risotto about five minutes before the end of cooking time. The vegetables will continue to cook in the heat of the rice.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the chopped parsley and crème fraîche. Season to taste with more black pepper. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve immediately with a crisp salad or some grilled cherry tomatoes on the vine.
- You need to use risotto rice for this recipe – basmati or long-grain rice won’t work as they don’t soften to the same tenderness and velvety texture.
- If fresh peas are out of season, add a handful of frozen ones instead. You can also flavour the risotto with chopped mint instead of parsley.
- Make a mushroom risotto with fresh chestnut or wild mushrooms or some dried porcini, which has been soaked first in boiling water. Cook the mushrooms with the onion and garlic before adding the rice.
- Other vegetables that work well in risotto include butternut squash, leeks, sweet peppers and plum tomatoes.
- If you’re not a vegetarian, how about making a seafood risotto with prawns, scallops, mussels and squid – or use frozen fruits de mer.