Courgette, chilli and ricotta risotto.

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Risotto is one of those dishes that people seem to run away from and think it’s very complicated and difficult to make when it’s actually really easy. Just keep stirring it, let it soak up the lovely stock as you go and within 20 minutes, your done! You also won’t be disappointed with the taste either. The thing with risotto is you can add any flavours you want and make it up as you like. I have seen believe it or not a few strawberry risottos here in Italian restaurants but yet to try it…hmm.

Serves 4

400g arborio risotto rice
1 litre chicken stock
2 courgettes, grated
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 white onion, finely chopped
1 tub, ricotta
1 small red chilli, finely chopped
Pinch of nutmeg, grated
Salt, to season

First of all bring a litre of chicken stock to the boil and turn to a low heat. Meanwhile add your chopped onion into a large pan under a low-medium heat until they start to soften. Add the garlic and chilli keeping a few pieces to garnish and soften for a minute. Then add the grated courgette for a few seconds before adding the rice. Cook the rice just for a minute, make sure you keep stirring so it doesn’t stick to the pan or burn then add a few ladles of stock. The stock should just slightly cover the rice, now let it simmer and keep on stirring it until you notice the rice soaking up the stock. As the rice becomes slightly drier add more stock and continue with this process until the stock is finished. By this time the rice should be al dente. Turn the heat right down low and add half the ricotta then season with salt to taste. The rice may need more salt, if you think so make sure you taste as you go. Now add a generous grating of parmesan. Serve your risotto in nice bowls, I like to level my risotto out as it cools much quicker and you can really taste the flavours. If food is piping hot the flavours aren’t nearly as intense. Finally top with a spoon of ricotta, sprinkling of chilli and a small grating of parmesan.
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Artichoke dip

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This is absolutely delicious and full of flavour. If you love garlic dips then you’ll love this one. I love jarred artichokes they are perfect for antipasti as is this dip. Embarrassingly easy, quick and very impressive. I guarantee if you make it for guests as a little appetiser with drinks or before dinner they will love it. I also sometimes buy an extra jar of artichokes and cut them in half to put on the top of this dip. It’s also lovely and bulks the dip out a bit, giving it a different texture.

For the dip:
285g Jar artichoke hearts in sunflower oil
15g parmesan, finely grated
Squeeze of lemon juice
1/2 garlic clove

Put all of the ingredients in a bowl ( spoon the artichokes into a bowl do not add whole jar of oil ) and blitz together with a hand blender until smooth, season with salt and pepper. Yep that’s it! I told you..embarrassingly easy, right? Serve with some toasted crusty bread and cured meats.