I thought I would make my first post of 2018 a vegetarian risotto, especially if you are looking to trim your calorie intake a little after Christmas. Equally, this risotto would make a great accompaniment to a freshly grilled piece of salmon or trout. Dill can be a wonderful herb, but it must be fresh and used judiciously. Risotto is moreish but I have made this recipe slightly smaller to give you three, tasty, medium-sized portions.
Dill or ‘Dill Weed’ as it’s called in the US, is part of the celery family and is used in many cuisines so it is hard to say much about its origins. Though during my research I did find out that in the Middle Ages, people used dill to defend against witchcraft and enchantments, which is something to keep in mind with Valentine’s Day just a couple of weeks from now! Also, Russian cosmonauts say it makes a good antiflatulent when in the confined quarters of a spacecraft.
Pea and Dill Risotto (2-3 portions)
200 g Arborio rice
50g finely diced onion
150g Frozen petit pois -thawed)
750 ml Vegetable stock (made and chilled)
1 small clove garlic left whole
15g fresh Dill
4 Tbsp Virgin Olive oil
50g Unsalted butter
100ml white wine
75 g Parmesan Cheese grated or Gran Moravia Parmesan (Vegetarian )
1 small thinly sliced carrot
50g thinly sliced onion
75g Young Asparagus Tips washed and blanched (optional)
9 Sugar Snap Peas washed and blanched and stalk removed
1.) Add 2 Tbsp of olive oil to 100grams of the petit pois, then add 6Tbsp of cold vegetable stock then puree, pass through a strainer and reserve.
2.) Lightly butter a small baking tray, then line it with baking paper*. Grate the parmesan and spread half of it out onto your tray, as thinly as possible but without holes.
3.) Bake the cheese in a preheated oven 160 C until bubbling and lightly brown. Remove the tray from the heat, allow to cool slightly then cut into triangular shards (parmesan crisps).
4.) Pour the remaining vegetable stock into a saucepan, add the carrot, sliced onion, garlic and bring to a gentle simmer, then turn off the heat once the vegetables are tender. This will give it a nice natural vegetable stock flavour.
5.) In a separate saucepan add the 50g butter, begin to melt on a medium heat and then add the finely diced onion. Cook the onion until it is tender but without colour, stirring often.
6.) Now stir in the risotto rice and keep stirring to coat the rice with the butter for 1-2 minutes.
7.) Add the white wine and stir the rice until the wine has evaporated then begin to ladle in the vegetable stock and turn the heat down low.
8.)Add more stock when the stock has been absorbed and continue to stir constantly.
9.) Once all the stock is into the risotto check to see how cooked it is and if it is al dente remove from the heat, the cooking process usually takes about 20-25 minutes.
10.) Finely chop the 15 grams of dill and fold into the pea puree.
To finish and serve
Keep the risotto on a very low heat and stir in the optional asparagus tips. Next add the pea dill puree and the remaining grated parmesan, taste for seasoning and add salt and black pepper if needed. Gently spoon the risotto into a warm pasta bowl and decorate with the parmesan crisps & a few sugar snap peas. You can also use a small sprig of dill as I have done in the photograph.
When making you Parmesan crisps you should weigh down the parchment paper to stop it blowing around in a fan assisted oven. I used a couple of old dinner knives to do the trick but just remember not to pick up the hot knives with your bare hands!
In UK supermarkets fresh cut Dill usually comes in 30gram packs which is helpful when trying to measure such a small amount as 15grams. It’s important to thoroughly check the quality of the dill before you buy; it should be green, not wet, fern-like and not limp. Dill is a wonderful herb when fresh and like stewed tea when it is not.
To get neatly shaped triangles, it’s important to work fast, because the cheese sets quickly. Transfer the baking paper straight onto a cutting board and use a sharp heavy knife to get clean edges, then gently peel off the baking paper and allow to cool.
If you can not find young tender asparagus you could use pea shoots as an alternative. They have long been prominent in Asian cuisine, but they’re one of the newer ingredients showing up in British supermarkets and you may find them in the early spring more easily. Their soft leaves, curly-cue tendrils and watery stems hold the promise of spring peas to come. But even better than that, they hold the flavour of them, too.
Don’t forget to visit my other blogs
Easy & Cheap Student Recipes-A great resource if you are a student or just learning how to cook.
Old Blog Posts– A growing archive of posts from my original food blog, which had 20,922,573 page views from its beginning in February 2006 until December 2015.
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Thanks for all the feedback and keep the questions coming 🙂
©Kevin Ashton 2018