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I have to admit winter is my favourite month to cook. The cooler weather makes me hungry and I spend more time in the kitchen when it is not favourable outside. There is something so comforting about a hot healthy meal on a cold winter’s evening.

One of my favourite meals to prepare is risotto and I find it very easy to whip one up if we have more around our table than I was expecting. There is a myth that risotto is difficult to cook. I have never found this, and there is no need to stand over the pot stirring the whole time just as long as it doesn’t boil or stick to the bottom.

This recipe is for a tomato based risotto. You can add any vegetables that are in season. I added fresh peas and zucchini and some left over roasted pumpkin that I blended into the stock and tomato puree. Fresh peas take a little longer to cook than the frozen ones or canned but they are so full of flavour and I don’t mind if the peas are a little crisp.

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Here is the recipe.

Ingredients

1 can of tomato puree
1 litre vegetable stock
100g butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 rosemary sprig, finely chopped
250g risotto rice
4 pieces of well cooked pumpkin (mine was pre roasted)
1 cup of shelled fresh peas. (you can substitute frozen or canned peas)
1 zucchini sliced finely
Some Basil, roughly torn
5 tbsp grated parmesan or more if you like.  Reserve some for decorating before serving.
Freshly ground pepper

Method

Firstly put the oil and butter into a large saucepan and melt and stir together.  Add the diced onion, garlic and rosemary.

Now add the Aborio rice and stir until every grain is coated in the mixture.  (There are a few types of risotto rice but Aborio is the easiest to find). Stir for a little while longer and then add the stock and the tomato puree all at once. This is also when I added the cooked pumpkin mashing it into the stock mixture while stirring. Once the pumpkin is pureed into the liquid you can leave the risotto on a low heat, just stirring now and then.

Prepare you shelled peas, zucchini and torn basil. After around five minutes add the vegetables and half of the torn basil and stir again.  The rest of the basil can be used for garnish. Eventually the stock and tomato puree will start to be absorbed by the rice. You can add salt and pepper to your taste at this point. I don’t usually add salt as the cheese is salty enough.

The only tricky part in making risotto is making sure you keep enough liquid around the rice to keep it from going “gluggy”. You can do this by keeping an eye on it while it is cooking and if you feel the liquid is not enough you can add half a cup of water at a time until it is the consistency you want.

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I always make too much risotto and end up with left overs. You can just re heat in a pan with a little water or stock or my other favourite thing to do is to make risotto balls. I have the recipe on an earlier post but here are a few photos of how they come together. You leave the risotto overnight in the fridge and then roll it into balls and leave those in the fridge for a few hours. Then coat and fry. These ones had an olive in the middle.

Delicious and great as a lunch box treat.

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