I adore risotto. For some reason I don’t make it very often – it just never occurs to me. Then every now and then I remember that risotto exists, and feel the urge to make it there and then (though I usually manage to wait until dinner time). This time, I made a super simple herby risotto with basil and spinach – and rather than serving it in a bowl on its own (or, the more likely scenario, straight out of the pan), I made risotto stuffed peppers.
I’m trying to eat lots of leafy greens at the moment since it’s supposed to be a good idea when you’re pregnant, and I’ve mostly been using frozen spinach. It’s so convenient, and it means I never accidentally waste half a bag of the fresh stuff when it gets lost in the fridge. I’ve been throwing a block or two of frozen spinach into my smoothies (which sometimes makes the colour a bit… unusual… but is delicious nonetheless), adding a block or two to the pan every time I make pasta, etc. Frozen veggies are a lifesaver for me at the moment, since I don’t have much energy to prepare fresh stuff – such an easy way to get your veggies in.
Of course, you can use fresh spinach in this risotto instead if you prefer. I also used some fresh basil for that gorgeous herby flavour, and topped the risotto stuffed peppers with some pumpkin seeds. I would usually add a bit of extra grated cheese on top, but I’m trying not to always default towards adding extra cheese to everything (it’s hard – one day at a time…). The risotto itself has some cheese in anyway, so extra cheese would just be unnecessary, and I like the bit of crunch that the pumpkin seeds give (pine nuts would be good too!).
After stuffing, I finished these herby risotto stuffed peppers by popping them back in the oven for a bit. If you’re in a rush you can definitely skip this step and just serve the risotto in the peppers like a bowl, but I do think that baking them helps to bring everything together and makes them feel a bit more cohesive. Served alongside a big salad, they make a great lunch or dinner.
- 6 long peppers (I used mirabella peppers)
- 1/2 tbsp oil
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 250 g arborio rice (risotto rice) (~ 1 generous cup)
- 750 ml vegetable stock (~ 3 cups)
- 1 large handful spinach (or 3 cubes frozen spinach, defrosted)
- 1 small handful fresh basil
- 120 g grated cheese (~ 1 cup) - I used cheddar and mozzarella
- 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds or pine nuts
Wash the peppers, but leave them whole. Place them on a baking tray, and drizzle lightly with a dash of oil. Roast at 190°C (Gas Mark 5 / 375°F) for about 10 minutes, until slightly soft. Set aside until cool enough to handle.
Meanwhile, prepare the herby risotto. Heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok, and add the onion and garlic. Cook over a medium heat for a few minutes until softened, then add the rice, and cook for a further 2 minutes.
Add the vegetable stock to the rice a little at a time, stirring regularly and only adding more stock when any excess liquid in the pan has been absorbed. It should take around 25 minutes in total for the rice to absorb all of the stock and to be fully cooked - add a dash more water if the rice isn't completely cooked by the time you've used up all of the stock.
Add the spinach and basil to a food processor, and blitz until finely chopped. Add this mixture to the risotto, along with the grated cheese. Mix well and cook until the cheese has melted.
When the peppers are cool, slice them down one side, and carefully remove the seeds (don't worry if one or two seeds remain). Fill each pepper with risotto, and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds or pine nuts. Return to the oven for a further 10 minutes, or until the peppers and risotto are cooked to your liking.
Note: Nutritional information is approximate, and will depend on exactly what ingredients you choose. Information above is for one risotto stuffed pepper.