Over the past few months I’ve been trying to introduce more vegetarian meals into our weekly menu; no mean feat when you’ve got a vegetable-shy husband! Whilst we have what I’d call a fairly healthy diet; eating vegetarian a few times a week feels more balanced. Also, by cutting back a bit, I can afford to buy better-quality, local meat which we both prefer. The only problem is finding recipes that are substantial enough for my husband not to notice the lack of meat. I tend to fall back on pasta dishes or quiche but am on the look out for new ideas. Does anyone out there have any suggestions? I’d love to hear them!
In other news, my little garden is really starting to come into its own now. The clumps of lettuce are more than enough for almost daily salads, the raspberries climbing the wall are dripping with jewel-red fruit, the peas are sweet and tender and the yellow stars of courgette flowers shine up between the huge leaves. Growing my own fruit and veg is something I take real pleasure in; it may not be cost-effective but the feeling you get watching a little seed turn into a big plant and pottering in the garden after work to harvest dinner is well worth the effort. I am very fortunate to have my little garden after wanting one for so long so I plan to make the most of it!
In an effort to combine the above, this weekend we enjoyed a risotto cake, from The Telegraph‘s New Vegetarian column, filled with sweet roasted summer veg in a balsamic glaze that was surprisingly light but sustantial enough to be carnivore-approved. The cheesy risotto develops a crispy edge when baked but remains sticky and rich inside. We ate it chilled with a crisp green salad and the leftovers were just as good the next day for lunch. It would make a wonderful dinner party dish especially since you can prepare the risotto and roasted vegetables in advance or even prepare the whole thing the day before.
Roasted vegetable risotto cake
Adapted (just a little) from Alice Hart in the Telegraph
For the risotto:
- 2 knobs of butter
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 400g arborio rice
- 250ml white wine
- 1-1.25l vegetable stock
- 100g vegetarian parmesan, grated
- black pepper
- A handful of basil leaves
For the roasted vegetables:
- 1 large courgette
- 2 peppers
- 1 red onion
- 150g cherry tomatoes
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
- oil to grease the pan
- 2 tbsp semolina or cornmeal
- 150g smoked cheddar or smoked mozzarella
- 3 tbsp vegetarian parmesan, grated
– First make the risotto.
In a large pan melt a knob of butter over a medium heat. When it bubbles add the onion and cook until soft adding the garlic after five minutes.
In another pan, bring the stock to a boil and keep it on a low simmer.
Add the rice and stir to coat in the butter. After a few minutes pour in the wine and stir until it has been absorbed.
Add the stock a ladleful at a time, stirring frequently until the liquid is absorbed. After 16-18 minutes the rice should be cooked but still have a slight bite.
Stir in the 100g of parmesan and other knob of butter. Add black pepper to taste and allow the risotto to cool. Chill in the fridge for three hours or over night.
– Next, roast the vegetables.
Heat the oven to 230°C.
Halve the courgette lengthways and slice. Cut the peppers into 2cm chunks and slice the onion thickly.
Toss all the vegetables with the vinegar, olive oil and thyme in a roasting pan and cook for 40 minutes until soft and slightly charred.
– To make the cake turn the oven to 190°C.
Grease a 23cm (10″) springform cake tin with oil and sprinkle in the semolina to coat the base and sides.
Stir the basil in to the chilled risotto.
Flatten half of the risotto into the base of the pan. Top with the roasted vegetables and crumble over the smoked cheddar. Top with the remaining risotto, sprinkle over 3tbsp parmesan and bake for 40 minutes.
Allow to rest for 30 minutes if you want to serve it warm or leave it to cool completely and chill to serve cold.