Creamy tomato and courgette risotto.

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I really love risotto, I prefer to have it as a main course so I can have a big bowl although it’s great in small portions as a starter especially if you have lots of people round.
I don’t normally add tomato to my risottos but this was delicious and I will definitely be exploring different tomato based risottos from now on.

I hope you enjoy this one!

Serves 4

400g arborio rice
1 litre chicken stock
1 white onion, finely chopped
4 tbsp tomato purée
1 tbsp mascarpone
2 tsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 large or 2 small courgettes.
Salt and pepper, to season
Parmesan, to season

In a large deep saucepan under a medium heat add 2 tsp of olive oil and sauté the onion for 2-3 minutes. Meanwhile cut your courgette in half lengthways then cut into slices. Add the courgette to the pan and fry for 1 minute. Add the rice and garlic and stir to stop it sticking just for a few seconds.

Add a few ladles of chicken stock and continue to stir until the rice starts to absorb the stock. Add he tomato purée and continue adding the stock a ladle at a time, allowing the rice to absorb the stock each time whilst constantly stirring.

When there is just a couple ladles of stock left add the mascarpone, salt and pepper to taste, then the remaining ladles of stock as before and stir until it reaches a nice creamy consistency but not too sticky. Try your rice to make sure it’s al dente and the seasoning is right.

I like to add 2 tbsp of parmesan at that point too and stir it in before serving.
Serve in nice big bowls with a good grating of parmesan.
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Courgette, chilli and gorgonzola arancini.

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How to use up left over risotto..make arancini. Arancini are balls of risotto stuffed with cheese or sometimes ragù, originally from Sicily. The name derives from their shape and color, which is reminiscent of an orange (the Italian word for orange is arancia, and arancina means “little orange”). They are then rolled in breadcrumbs and deep fried, so delicious. Every time we make risotto we always make enough to make these the next day. They’re perfect for a picnic or as a snack. Just as delicious hot and crispy as they are cold.

Makes 8 Arancini

640g Courgette, chilli and ricotta risotto (this is how much we had left over)
1 egg, beaten in a bowl
80g fine breadcrumbs
60g plain flour
1 litre sunflower oil
8 small cubes of gorgonzola cheese
Salt and pepper, to season
Brown paper or kitchen roll, to drain

Place the oil into a deep pot and place under a low-medium heat. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to your breadcrumbs on one plate and place your flour on another. Using a normal sized cutlery table spoon shape the risotto into balls, one and a half spoons make a decent sized ball. Then using your finger poke a hole in the middle of the ball. Add a cube of gorgonzola or mozzarella if you prefer and then close the hole back up again by rolling the ball.
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Do this to all 8 balls then roll each one in flour. After the flour, dip them in the beaten egg and then roll them in breadcrumbs making sure they are completely covered. Check your oil is ready by placing a small piece of bread in the oil, if it floats and turns a nice golden colour, it’s ready. Fry your arancini in the oil in batches, 3 or 4 at a time until they turn a lovely golden colour. This only takes a couple minutes. Drain on brown paper or kitchen roll and serve straight away or when cooled, keep them in the fridge for up to 1 day and eat cold, lovely.

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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