This wasn’t exactly the admission I’d intended to go with for the start of the new year. But this is exactly what I’ve been gorging on several times a week recently, and can’t quite get over just how simple and good the combination of pan-fried leeks and Brussels sprouts actually are. Which surprises me. I’d intended to go with the notion that I was going to make a concerted effort to be nicer this year. And that it would help if you gave me your exhausted list of self-help books. To save me looking. But then, none of you would think, not for a minute, that there was any chance of them helping – as they seem to have failed already. Anyway, enough of the niceties. This couldn’t be much simpler. Apart from the veg and stock there’s only a single bay leaf and a large pinch of red pepper flakes used – not even herbs. Nor garlic. This is easy. And quick. And I guess this is relatively healthy with three veg on the one plate. Of course, garden peas or broccoli would be great with this. So was the inclusion of several Little Gem lettuce leaves shredded and chucked in for my lunch – nice crunch. As I wasn’t in the mood to prep a salad proper. Far too busy editing photos to care. There is one thing on my mind, though: why was I thinking last night of roasting an entire ostrich next Christmas? There was even an oven built large enough to do so. Anything to get attention, I suppose. Let’s face it, if you’re not a minor celebratory these days who’s going to notice. No kidding, it’s been like purgatory around here – the boredom only interrupted by tumbleweed rolling by. Oh, and torn pages from those self-help books – litter louts!
Brussels Sprouts, Broad Bean and Leek Risotto
PREP: about 30 mins ~ COOK: 20 – 30 mins ~ READY IN: less than 45 mins
ADDITIONAL EQUIPMENT NEEDED: measuring jug, fine grater (microplane) for the Parmesan. If cooking risotto for more than 2 portions then a wide sauté pan is advisable, as it will allow the rice to cook more evenly
- oil, I prefer using extra virgin olive oil
- 2 x medium sized leeks (white, light green and some of the more tender dark green used), trimmed, sliced crossways into discs and thoroughly rinsed
- 1 x dried bay leaf
- 1 x organic vegetable stock cube
- 400ml (13.53 fl oz) x cold water (not all of the stock will be used)
- 100g (3.527 oz) x arborio rice, well rinsed
- 200g (7.055 oz) + extra if needed x Brussels sprouts, trimmed and sliced crossways into 2 or 3 discs (according to how large they are)
- 1 x 300g or 195g drained weight (10.58 or 6.878 oz drained) can broad beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/4 x teaspoon red pepper flakes
- single/light cream, about 50ml (1.691 fl oz) used, more or less to personal taste
- Parmesan or Grana Padano, freshly grated
- seasoning, freshly ground sea salt and black pepper
- salted pistachios, shelled and chopped (or try dry roasting pumpkin seeds) – optional
- shredded Little Gem lettuce – optional
Measurements within brackets above are approximate only.
- Put a heavy-based saucepan on electric heat No 3 out of 6. When hot add a glug of oil and add the leeks and the bay leaf, stirring through to coat them in oil before clamping on a lid. I tend to leave mine for at least 15 minutes before removing the lid and stirring through. Do check on them and stir through more often if necessary.
- Prep the stock. I use the same saucepan for the actual risotto. Simply pour in the water with the stock cube, put on heat No 3 and allow to dissolve before transferring to a suitable measuring jug, and set aside.
- Add a glug of oil to the same pan and add the rice, stirring through often to coat. Take off heat if there’s any sign of the grains sticking to base of pan.
- When the leeks are nicely soft push them to the sides of pan and add the sprouts. Add the lid back on and allow up to 10 minutes for them to cook before removing the lid again and stirring through. Do look for any signs of scorching. And take off heat if necessary.
- Just before pouring in some of the stock to the rice sprinkle over the red pepper flakes. Add a good glug of the stock and up the heat to No 4. Stir often, and stay with the pan. I’m so used to making this that I set the timer for 10 and leave it, keeping an ear open for any sizzling – which would suggest the stock has been absorbed. However, I tend to keep the heat at No 3 to prevent the stock from being absorbed too quickly. If new to making risotto stay with the pan as the stock can be absorbed far quicker than imagined. When the stock has been absorbed add a good glug of single/light cream and a little more stock. When that’s nearly absorbed is when I start testing the rice to check if it’s nearly or almost cooked. Sometimes the risotto will need further cream and a drizzle of stock before the rice is fully cooked.
- In the meantime prep the broad beans and add those to the risotto to heat those through until piping hot. Check to make sure the Brussels sprouts are cooked through and add those and the leeks to the risotto and stir through to combine.
- Serve piping hot (on warmed plates/bowls) with lots of freshly grated Parmesan or Grana Padano. A knob of butter is great with this. Scatter over seeds or nuts, which will add some protein and much needed crunch.
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