The constant push to get away from pasta products has made me branch out and look for more rice and grain recipes to sub in for my beloved noodles. Nigel has been so helpful ... he does like a good bowl of rice, a good rice pudding, a nice side of pearled barley, stewed lentils ... et cetera !
This month, I'm making some of his rice and bean dishes ... and I invite you to come along for a few. Last evening, I worked on a lovely herbed risotto that was dressed with mozzarella and provolone cheese and topped with some bread crumbs. Baked to a soft gooey finish, it sat beside a chicken saltimbocca to make a nice meal. Once again, I'm able to double dip on this recipe, as it meets the weekly I Heart Cooking Club's Cheese challenge ... There's not much that's better than a cheesy risotto, don't you think?
This risotto is especially tasty because of an herb paste that is introduced right after toasting the arborio rice in a bit of butter and olive oil. I like the rice to have a nutty flavour, so I tend to brown up the grains of rice before I begin to add the stock to make the risotto. Nigel's recipe calls for small mozzarella balls to be dropped into the creamy risotto, but I added some Provolone chunks too. The risotto was baked in a hot oven for about fifteen minutes to melt everything together and crisp the bread crumb crunch topping. It was delicious! The herb paste really freshened this risotto up and made it a nice Springtime side dish ! The quality of the fresh dill, parsley, and basil was wonderful; the paste was such a brilliant green that it made me happy just looking at it as it swirled in the blender ... totally tasty!
Head on over to the I Heart Cooking Club to see what the rest of the folks have prepared !
Before you go, here's how I made the risotto.
Nigel Slater’s Rice and Cheese
1 tsp. butter plus 1 tsp. olive oil
200 g/ 7 oz. Arborio rice
100 ml/3 oz. olive oil
A small handful of each of the following herbs – dill, flat-leaf parsley, basil
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
500 ml/17 fluid oz. vegetable or chicken stock
A small handful each mozzarella and provolone cheese chunks
Making the Dish:
- Heat the butter and olive oil in a heavy saucepan. When the butter, bubbles, add the rice and toss to coat the grains.
- Roast the rice to a soft golden color.
- While the rice roasts, whiz the herbs and the olive oil measure in a blender to form a bright green paste. Add salt and black pepper, to taste.
- Add the herb paste tp the golden rice and stir together, letting the mixture bubble up a bit. Then, begin to add the hot stock a ladleful at a time, lower the heat and let the rice simmer until almost all the broth is absorbed before adding another ladleful.
- Stir the risotto frequently, while you prepare the rest of your meal.
- When almost all the stock is absorbed, turn the risotto into a casserole dish, tuck the cheese chunks down into the rice, and sprinkle the top with some fresh bread crumbs and a bit more black pepper.
- Bake for 15 minutes in a 200° C/ 400° F oven.
- Serve piping hot with a side salad or as a side dish with a meat entrée and a vegetable.