It’s fair to say that my blogging endeavours have been somewhat minimal in recent times. Or non-existent is probably a more precise description. Three weeks ago, my boyfriend and I moved into a lovely flat in Islington. Ample time was spent buying and building furniture, arguing over placemats (he thinks floral is too “girly”!) and generally getting the place just the way I…I mean we want it. In this time it occurred to me; I’m too scared to cook. The kitchen surfaces are beautiful and I couldn’t bear to taint them with crumbs, splashes of olive oil and other potential spillages. Even preparing a bowl of cereal has had me breaking out in cold sweats. So when we haven’t been eating out, I’ve been feasting on a limited diet of pasta and ready-made sauce. Most unfulfilling. Last night, I realised it was time to bite the bullet and get back to experimenting in the kitchen. It had been a while since I’d rustled up a risotto and as I already had a bag of arborio rice in the cupboard, it seemed a good choice for my Saturday night dinner.
INGREDIENTS (3-4 portions)
Approx 1l veg stock
2 tbsp tomato purée
A knob of margarine
1 chopped onion
1 crushed garlic clove
200g arborio risotto rice
1 tbsp olive oil
400g cherry tomatoes
A pinch of sugar
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp dried oregano
Black pepper to season
1) Stir tomato purée in with the stock and leave on a low heat. In the meantime, heat the margarine in a large frying pan and sauté the onion and garlic for 3 minutes.
2) Add the rice and stir until it has absorbed all the moisture. Begin adding a few ladles of stock at a time, stirring until the liquid has been absorbed, then repeating. The whole process should take just over 30 minutes.
*With risotto I think it’s important to keep sampling the rice; you want to ensure it retains a slight chalky bite. There’s nothing worse than soggy risotto!
3) After 20 minutes, heat the olive oil in a saucepan and add the cherry tomatoes, sugar, balsamic vinegar and oregano. Cover and simmer on a high heat until the tomatoes begin to split and release some of their juices.
4) Just as the risotto rice is ready, stir in the tomato mixture thoroughly and serve with a little olive oil and black pepper. You can leave this dish completely vegan or add a sprinkle of grated vegetarian cheese.
Cooking the tomatoes this way really brings out their sweet, juicy flavour and the dish was delicious with garlic bread.