For a very long time I believed that I didn’t like risotto. Whenever I had eaten it at restaurants I had found it too heavy and too rich, and was bored after the first few mouthfuls.
It was my boyfriend’s mother who turned around my distaste for the dish. The first time I went to visit his family home she cooked chicken risotto and it was utterly delicious.
Made with homemade chicken stock and just a little Parmesan, it was so much lighter than what I’d been used to. Since then I have played around with making my own.
For an entirely vegetarian version of this dish, swap the scallops for some asparagus, chop the spears into chunks and pan-fry them until slightly charred.
– 500g peas, cooked and cooled
– 1.5 l chicken, fish or vegetable stock
– 8 tbsp butter or coconut oil, plus a knob for frying
– 3 shallots, finely chopped
– 400g Arborio rice
– 200ml dry white wine (for an alcohol-free version just use water or more stock, although the alcohol content is mostly eliminated during cooking)
– zest of 1 lemon, keep the lemon to serve as wedges
– 50g Parmesan (optional)
– 400g scallops, cleaned
– small bunch of mint
– sea salt and black pepper
1. Place about half the peas and about 100ml of the chicken stock in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Set aside.
2. In a medium pan, heat the remaining stock so that it is warm but not boiling.
3. Place a large deep frying pan over a medium heat and add 4 tablespoons of the butter or coconut oil and the shallots. Cook, stirring, until soft – about 5 minutes.
4. Stir in the rice and add the wine, if using. Let it cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. At this point add a ladle or two of stock. Stir gently and add more stock once all the liquid has nearly gone.
5. Repeat for about 15 minutes, then check to see whether the rice is cooked – it should be slightly glutinous but still have bite.
6. If it is not done, continue to add the stock until the rice has reached the ideal consistency, leaving 1 tablespoon for the peas.
7. Season with salt and pepper and stir in 2 tablespoons of butter or coconut oil, the lemon zest and Parmesan, if using.
8. Fold in the pea purée and the remaining whole peas. Season to taste, add just a tablespoon more stock and leave off the heat, but covered, while you sear the scallops.
9. Ensure the scallops are very dry by patting them with some kitchen paper. They will crisp up nicely this way. Melt a knob of butter or coconut oil in a non-stick pan.
10. Season both sides of the scallops with salt and a little pepper before adding them to the hot pan. They will cook better if they are not touching, so use a large pan or cook in batches.
11. Cook for about 8 minutes, turning halfway through the time. They should have taken on some nice colour but still be soft.
12. Taste the risotto and add more seasoning or liquid if needed. Spoon into bowls and divide the scallops among them equally. Tear over some mint leaves and serve with a wedge of lemon to squeeze over and grated parmesan, if you like. Serve straight away.
A celebration of real food and wholesome ingredients, Land and Sea brings sustainable eating to the table in true flavour and style. With advice on using the whole ingredient (no matter what it is); how you can make the most of leftovers; and how to be creative with herbs and spices, these recipes show you how to inject every mealtime with flavour and goodness.
Inspired by her Dutch and German roots, Alexandra’s storybook style recipes include family breakfasts of sweet-spiced, apple puffed pancakes – a traditional ‘Dutch Baby’ – warming lunches such as Hake, Prawn and Lemongrass Curry, and comforting dinners to share like Spatchcocked Persian-Spiced Peanut Butter Chicken.
Photography by Andrew Burton. Land & Sea is published by Orion. To buy the book visit www.orionbooks.co.uk.