Our recent travels to Italy have inspired us to think about what we put into our dishes. Italians have an exceptional way of keeping it simple. They use such few ingredients in their dishes, but are capable of producing flavours that ignite your taste buds and cause small explosions of delight in your mouth 🙂 There are few things more delicious than fresh pasta tossed with lightly fried garlic and chilli, drizzled with homemade olive oil and showered with freshly plucked basil. So simple. SO good.
One of the dishes we ate at our wedding was risotto. I LOVE risotto but until recently, had never tried to make it myself. I always thought it was something that took hours to make, and my impatient side usually forces me to stick to dishes that can be whipped up in a jiffy. I was however pleasantly delighted to recently stumble over a scrumptious looking recipe that promised dinner on the table within 35 minutes! Finding myself holed up in a cosy cabin a few weekends ago in the north of Denmark, with freezing temperatures and snow outside, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to try.
I started off following this recipe, but ended up modifying it, both to suit our taste buds but also to use up some beetroot that was reaching the end of its days and some goats cheese that had my name on it. Pickled beetroot was a regular participant in our sandwiches whilst growing in Australia. I had never actually tried fresh beetroot until the last few years, but since then have become obsessed with it! We often juice it with big chunks of ginger, apples and lemons to produce fantastically spicy juices. We roast it in the oven with rosemary and olive oil. We make a mouth-watering beetroot, ginger & chilli soup (recipe to come). WE LOVE BEETROOT!
Adjust the amount of chilli to suit your needs. Feel free to garnish with coriander, mint or thyme.
Ingredients (made for 2)
1 tbsp olive oil
4 slices pancetta
1 small onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic & 1-2 chilli’s, finely chopped
150g risotto rice
700ml vegetable stock (I ended up making 1L and using most of it)
3 small beetroots, peeled & grated
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
A good handful of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Some chunks of goats cheese & freshly chopped coriander
1. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan. Add the pancetta and fry until crisp. Remove and set aside.
2. Add the oil to the pan and add the onion. Gently cook until soft. Add the garlic and chilli and cook for a further few minutes.
3. Add the rice and toast until translucent.
4. Over a medium heat, start to add the stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring between each addition and allowing almost all the stock to be absorbed before adding more. After about 20 minutes most of the stock will have been added – add more than suggested if necessary. Stir in the beetroot and lemon zest, and continue to cook until the rice is tender and creamy.
5. Remove from the heat, season to taste with freshly ground black pepper. Stir through the lemon juice and Parmigiano Reggiano – this will make it super creamy. Serve with crumbled goats cheese, pancetta and coriander on the top.