Easy Nutritious Lockdown Meal

Risotto has got to be one of the most versatile recipes for flavour options, which makes it the perfect easy nutritious lockdown meal. In this Tomato & Basil Risotto recipe I have given you multiple options for which grain to use. Arborio rice is the traditional rice variety to use, but short grain brown rice, barley, farro or wheat berries can also be used. These will need to be soaked for a couple of hours before using so they cook as quickly as the Arborio, but they have greater nutritional value due to being wholegrain's. Another option could be to use half a cup of quinoa to add extra nutrition to the dish. Just omit half a cup of the rice and replace with half a cup of quinoa, this is also a good option if you have family members who aren’t so keen on beans as quinoa has good protein along with all nine essential amino acids.

You can achieve this amazing red colour with tomato passata, but if you still have a glut of tomatoes in your garden use a blender to puree whole fresh tomatoes then push through a sieve to remove the skin and pips. You can also use canned but to achieve the smooth consistency it will need to be pureéd. Use a large heavy bottomed pan for your risotto. It needs to be constantly stirred, so you need enough room to slap it up the sides a little.

Due to lockdown I’ve added alternatives to the white beans in the recipe. You could use baked beans instead of butter or cannellini beans or another option would be to top with lentil or bean sprouts. You’ll need to prepare the sprouted lentils in advance. Soak dried lentil or beans, overnight covered in water. Drain it off in the morning through a sieve. Cover the sieve with a tea towel and rinse the beans again at night then again in the morning until little tails sprout out. They are now ready to use. A poached egg on top of each serving is also a nice addition to this dish.

TOMATO AND BASIL RISOTTO RECIPE

~Recipe out of The Veggie Tree Spring and Summer Cookbook~

Vegan | Gluten-free

Serves 4

Gather your ingredients and prepare the following:

700g tomato passata, canned or pureéd with a stick blender and sieved to remove skin and pips

1 onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, sliced

1 stick celery, sliced

1-2 T fresh or dried oregano or rosemary

5 sprigs basil

Meanwhile in a separate pan heat:

700 ml vegetable stock and/or whey

with the prepared tomato puree

In a second pan heat:

2 T olive oil

2 T butter (or extra olive oil if dairy-free)

Add the prepared onion, garlic and celery to the pot. Fry for two minutes, then add:

1½ c (300g) risotto rice (arborio)

or

1 ½ c (300g) short grain brown rice, barley, farro or wheat berries, soaked for 1-3 hours

Fry for two more minutes, then add:

¼ c Marsala, port or white wine (optional)

Stir through, then start adding the tomato mixture to the pan, a quarter of a cup (or a ladle full) at a time, constantly stirring. Add the prepared oregano. Wait for the rice to absorb each addition of stock before adding the next. When you have added half of the stock add:

1 x 400g can of cannellini or butter beans, drained and rinsed or baked beans

Stir through then keep adding the stock mix in intervals. When all the stock is gone add:

1 tsp salt

¼ tsp cracked black pepper

Stir through half of the following:

50g Parmesan cheese, grated dairy, plant-based or ¼ c nutritional yeast

Top each serving with a sprinkle of the second measure of cheese over the top and add the fresh basil leaves (and sprouts). I like to have a rocket or dark green leafy salad with a reduced balsamic and extra virgin olive oil dressing to accompany this dish.

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