Summer Vegetable Risotto

Stock-based risottos are delicious but they do tend to be a little on the heavy side for this time of year – especially when I get a little over-eager with the parmesan!

In one of his recent TV series, Raymond Blanc explored the virtues of using a tomato essence to form the basis of a risotto. Tomato essence takes time and patience to get just right, two things which I don’t really have much of! But using this technique produces a very light and pure risotto which is perfect for showing off the qualities of fresh summer vegetables.

As opposed to making a pure tomato essence, which needs to be left hanging for ages in the fridge, taking up vital space, I have developed this recipe using a quicker method. Although not quite as pure, it still achieves the same result and depth of flavour.

Perfect for mid-week suppers, you can also make the essence a few days in advance and keep it covered in the fridge. Using carnaroli rice gives a much more velvety and luxurious texture than Arborio and is my first choice every time.

Summer Vegetable Risotto

Serves 4

Ingredients:

For Tomato Essence: 1kg Cherry Tomatoes, 1 Celery Stick, 1 Chopped Shallot, Handful of Basil Leaves, 1/2 Garlic Clove, Salt

For the Risotto Base: 350g Carnaroli Rice, 1 Onion Finely Chopped, 1 Garlic Clove Finely Chopped, 600ml Very Weak Vegetable Stock, Reserved Tomato Essence, White Pepper, Salt

To Finish: 30g Grated Parmesan, 1tbsp Unsalted Butter, 2tbsp Mascarpone, 75g Fresh Peas, 75g Broad Beans, 1 Carrot Finely Diced, 1 Courgette Finely Diced

Method:

To Make the Essence:

1) Blitz all the ingredients in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Season lightly with salt. Leave to settle in the fridge for 2 hours.

2) Press through a sieve to extract the juice. You should get around 600ml of Juice.

For the Risotto Base:

1) Sweat the onion and garlic in a little oil for 5 minutes. Add the carnaroli rice and fry until translucent (around 5 minutes).

2) Season the risotto with approximately 2tsp ground white pepper (or to taste) and a little salt.

3) Add the vegetable stock and cook on a low heat until the rice has soaked up the stock. Stir occasionally during this stage.

4) Once all the stock has been soaked up add the tomato essence. Continue to stir occasionally.

5) When the risotto is around 5 minutes from being ‘done’ continue to the finishing stage – there should still be a little essence left, if not add a little water.

To Finish:

1) Stir in the vegetables and allow to cook until al dente (approximately 5 minutes). Stir frequently during this stage.

2) Quickly fold in the butter, parmesan and mascarpone. Once the butter has melted and is combined, serve immediately.

This recipe works equally as well with any other summer vegetables – especially fennel. Enjoy!

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