Petit Pois Peas Risotto

I have always wanted to make a risotto dish from scratch, so I finally gave it a go today and it turned out really well!  The key seems to be the continuous stirring, as well as adding hot stock in a little at a time, but once you get the hang of that, it was surprisingly easy to do.

Serves 4 as a starter, 2 as a main

- 50g butter
- 250g risotto rice
- 1 litre vegetable stock
- 350g petit pois peas (or any kind of peas)
- 1 onion

How to:-
1. Heat the vegetable stock and maintain it a high but not boiling temperature.
2. Melt the butter on a medium heat in a seperate saucepan.  Finely chop the onion and add this to the butter, giving it a good stir, and cook until the onion is soft.  Add the risotto rice and a third of the stock.  Bring to a simmer.
3.  Using a ladle, add a little at a time of the rest of the hot stock to the risotto pan, making sure to stir, stir, stir!  Allow time for the rice to absorb a decent amount of stock before adding the next ladle.
4. Add the peas during the last two ladles and cook for another 5 mins.
5. Serve whilst hot.

Notes: Risotto rice should be cooked al dente and it shouldn't be swimming in stock, you're aiming for a creamy consistency instead.  Traditionally, risottos contain parmesan, but I've omitted this as it contains animal rennet.  However, a good supermarket or health food store will usually carry at least one vegetarian (and in some cases vegan) alternative.  Likewise, simply substitute the butter in this recipe for an alternative if cooking for a vegan friend.


Back to Basics: Vegetable Stock

A good stock makes all the difference to your homemade soups etc and they're a wonderful way to use up any leftover vegetables you have lying about.  You can make a flavoursome vegetable stock with just about any variation of veggies, so do experiment with what you have and see what you like.  The recipe below is what I mainly use and always turns out great.

Makes about 2 litres

- 3 tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 3 carrots, unpeeled & roughly chopped
- 4 or 5 mushrooms or 2 flat mushrooms, unpeeled & roughly chopped
- 3 celery sticks, roughly chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, peeled & crushed or finely chopped
- handful of fresh parsley
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves

How to:-
1. Place all of the ingredients into a large, deep pan.  Add 2 litres of cold water and bring to the boil.  Reduce to a simmer and then cook on a low heat for around 2 hours.  You can add more water as needed.
2. Pour the vegetable stock through a sieve into a large bowl, pressing the vegetables in order to extract as much excess liquid as possible. 

If not using straight away, allow the stock to cool for about 30 mins.  Once its properly cooled, you can either store it in a container in the fridge for up to 3 days or freeze it where it'll keep for up to 4 months.


Once you've tried a homemade vegetable stock like this, you'll never go back to using those dusty old stock cubes ever again!