One of my Christmas presents was the book River Cottage Veg Every Day, which I put on my wish list after watching the series on Channel 4. I know Hugh Fairy-Wittering or whatever his name is probably isn’t the most hip celebrity chef, but I loved the way he recognised that vegetarians get a raw deal in most restaurants and that a lot of people don’t consider a meal complete without meat (*cough* Nick *cough*). Have I mentioned I’m a vegetarian??
So after the excesses of December I was looking forward to trying out these recipes and getting some vitamins back into my system. There’s something about a vegetable dish that makes me feel virtuous and wholesome, even if I do eat my body weight in chocolate for pudding. Although there are also some lovely sounding not-so-virtuous-and-wholesome meals in there, most of them in the enticingly named Comfort Food and Feasts section.
The salad and raw sections were an obvious place to start and I’ve made several of these already with fairly consistent impressive results; the baby beetroot salad with yoghurt dressing was a particularly surprising favourite. But for our Friday night dinner last week, I picked a more indulgent recipe, the roasted tomato and mozzarella risotto.
You start off by making a roasted tomato sauce, which sadly I don’t have a photo of as the light wasn’t quite good enough in my kitchen. Although this takes about an hour, it’s as simple as you can get – throw some tomatoes, oil and seasoning in a roasting tin and bung in the oven, then push through a sieve once cooked. Trust me, the taste is SO worth the wait. Then you can get on with your risotto. I know a lot of people have this image of risotto as being really tricky to make, but it’s become something of a speciality of mine over the years (and let’s face it if I can make it then you’ll have no trouble).
Fry your onion…
…then add the rice…
The key is to keep stirring and add the stock slowly, waiting until it’s been absorbed by the rice before adding the next ladleful. Once the basic risotto is done (the rice should be al dente; not chalky but not mushy either), you add the roasted tomato sauce and heat through, then chuck in some torn up buffalo mozzarella and leave it to melt with the lid on for a minute or so. And that’s it – now you can tuck into the food equivalent of snuggling on the sofa in your pyjamas on a winter evening in front of a good film.