I made rice pudding the other day, and bought a new box of arborio rice for it. But obviously, because I’m an idiot and I forgot to check my cupboards beforehand, I already had a full box in the kitchen. Risotto was definitely on the cards! You can make risotto in just about any flavour you can think of – this time I made ratatouille risotto, chock-full of veggies.
Risotto is really easy to make. I think it sometimes has a bad reputation for being labour intensive and taking a long time, but really it’s pretty straightforward. Sure, it does take a little while to get the rice nice and soft and creamy, but you don’t actually have to stir constantly if you have something better to do (it’s probably some kind of cooking blasphemy to say that, but really, who’s got the time – or stamina – to stir non-stop for 40 minutes? Just stirring every few minutes while you potter around in the kitchen is totally fine).
This ratatouille risotto starts with aubergine (eggplant), courgette (zucchini), mushrooms, and peppers, all cooked up together with a whoops-my-hand-slipped amount of oregano, and plenty of garlic for good measure. I could pretty much just eat the vegetable mixture on its own, but it’s even better if you resist long enough to add the rich, tomatoey rice.
I usually add a good handful of grated cheese to my risotto, but continuing with my aim to not always add cheese to everything (just most things), I decided to keep my risotto vegan this time. You can definitely add some cheese if you like, but arborio rice gets nice and creamy on its own anyway, so it’s not vital. The veggies, tomato puree and a dollop of pesto make this ratatouille risotto plenty rich enough without it.
Now to find a way to use up the other seven boxes of arborio rice that I almost certainly have in my kitchen cupboards…
- 2 tbsp oil, divided
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 small aubergine (eggplant), cut into 1cm dice
- 1 bell pepper, diced (I used orange)
- 1 medium courgette (zucchini), cut into 1cm dice
- 4 medium mushrooms, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 250 g (~ 1 1/4 cups) arborio rice
- 1 litre (~ 4 cups) vegetable stock
- 3 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp basil pesto (use vegan pesto if needed)
- To serve: fresh basil (optional)
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large frying pan or wok, and add the diced onion, aubergine, pepper, courgette and mushrooms. Cook over a medium heat for around 10 minutes, stirring regularly, until the vegetables are soft and just starting to turn golden. Add the minced garlic and dried oregano, and cook for a couple more minutes.
Remove the vegetables from the pan, and set aside. Add the remaining 1 tbsp oil to the same pan, and add the arborio rice (alternatively, if you prefer, you can use a separate pan for the rice and cook both simultaneously).
Cook the rice in the oil for a minute or two over a medium-low heat, stirring constantly, then add a little of the vegetable stock. Stirring regularly, allow the rice to absorb most of the excess liquid. Continue adding the stock a little at a time, allowing any excess to be absorbed each time before adding more. When you've used all the stock and the rice is soft, add the tomato puree, balsamic vinegar, and basil pesto, and mix well. Return the cooked vegetables to the pan, and mix well to combine.
Serve topped with fresh basil if desired.
Note: Nutritional information is approximate, and will depend on exactly what ingredients you choose. Information above is for 1/4 of the recipe.