I was taught to cook risotto by an ex-boyfriend, who made such enormous quantities of it, and spent what felt like hours tending to it. I could never be bothered. All the stirring, and for me it never seemed to come out with all that flavour, so what was even the point? We went our separate ways.
In more recent years, my mother gave me a recipe book by Rachel Allen. I didn’t then and don’t now know who Rachel Allen might be, and I no longer own the recipe book, because I tend to cast these things aside if they don’t earn their shelf-space. Rach, as I never came to know her, only offered me one recipe that I was inclined to go back to, and this was her oven-baked risotto. If you google, you will find versions of it, though I’m not sure if any are the original. This evening as I pondered what to do with this week’s courgettes, I came across a recipe for a risotto with oven-baked vegetables, some of which were indeed courgettes. But the stirring, I thought, just no. I am wise beyond my years (which is a lot of wisdom as I have accumulated more than a quarter of a century since the ex who was willing to stir), however, and adapted Rach’s recipe, pretty much as follows:-
Serves 2 generously
- Half an onion, chopped
- Splash of olive oil
- Diced whatever casseroley-type veg you have, such as carrots and celery
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 175g of risotto rice
- Splash of wine or sherry
- 400ml hot veg stock
- 200ml passata
- 2 courgettes, sliced
- Some tomatoes, say about 12 cherry tomatoes or 3 default-sized ones, halved or eigthed
- Heat oven to 180°c
- Oil a baking sheet and lay out your courgettes and tomatoes; season with salt and pepper and whatever herbs you have to hand. Put them in the oven
- Fry the onion in your fancy-pants le creuset lidded casserole dish until soft, then add the diced veg, fry for a few more minutes, then stir in the rice and coat the grains with oil. Splash in your wine or sherry, stir around until the liquid evaporates, and then throw in the garlic and passata. Finally add the stock, give it all a good stir, put the lid on and bung it in the oven with the veg.
- Leave everything alone for 20 minutes. You may well spend this time throwing together the burger and chips that you have to do for the resolutely non-vegan members of the family. In our case nobody feels strongly either way about veganism, but some person or persons do not care much for courgettes. Which is bonkers because courgettes are amazing, but one parents how one parents, just saying.
- Remove both the risotto and the tray of now beautifully roasted veg from the oven, combine and serve. Given that you have no real commitment to veganism, add quite a lot of parmesan cheese at this stage.