I was at our local library two days before Christmas, and happened to spot a Jamie Oliver cookbook i had not previously seen. Despite having been gifted a pile of second-hand recipe books by my sister-in-law, who was rationalising her cookbook collection (something i should probably also do), i couldn't resist taking Jamie from the shelf, as i really enjoy his recipes. Over a cup of tea at home i went straight to the index and checked out the risotto recipes. This one in particular caught my eye, for its lovely greenness.
Turns out Jamie specifies using frozen peas and frozen spinach, but of course you can substitute these items fresh from your garden if you happen to have them. It is a bit late in the season for both these items in my garden, but those of you who live in a more temperate climate than i, or simply have better gardening skills may have either or both these things waiting to be used.
I do not usually have frozen spinach in my freezer, and would normally substitute silverbeet from the garden, but for once in my life, there was spinach in the freezer (my mother was staying; she eats a LOT of vegetables, and had asked me to buy some frozen spinach). So i made the recipe with both the frozen items Jamie suggests, but had to substitute feta for the cottage cheese, as i had one but not the other. Feta worked just fine, although i did add a little of the spinach cooking water to the sauce to help thin it out a little.
If you don't happen to have celery in your garden or fridge, i don't think you will sacrifice too much flavour by skipping it from the recipe.
Whether you use frozen greens or fresh, this risotto is a lovely hit of green vegetable goodness.
PEA and SPINACH RISOTTO
From Jamie Oliver's 'Super Food Family Classics'
2 sticks of celery
1.2 litres veg stock
300 g Arborio risotto rice
350 g frozen chopped spinach
350 g frozen peas
300 g cottage cheese
15 g fresh mint
15 g Parmesan cheese
Peel the onion, trim the celery, then finely chop both and place in a large high-sided pan on a medium heat with one tablespoon of olive oil. Cook for 10 minutes, or until softened, stirring occasionally. Simmer the stock in a pan on a low heat.
Stir the rice and spinach into the veg for 2 minutes, then gradually add the stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring and waiting for each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next. Repeat this, stirring and massaging the starch out of the rice, for 20 minutes, or until the rice is cooked but still holding its shape, and the risotto is oozy, adding half the peas for the last few minutes.
Blitz the cottage cheese with the rest of the peas and most of the picked mint leaves in a food processor until smooth. Stir most of the creamy curds through the risotto, taste and season to perfection, then divide between your plates. Serve with a dollop of creamy curds, a fine grating of Parmesan and with the remaining mint leaves scattered over.