A wonderfully light risotto with fresh summery flavours, which needs only a green salad as an accompaniment. To avoid it being too heavy, make sure that you add enough stock to make it quite runny in texture. Adding the butter at the end and resting is crucial as it allows the rice to relax.
Serves 4generously Ingredients: 11⁄2 tablespoons olive oil 25g butter, plus a knob of butter for the end 1 onion, finely chopped 2 sticks of celery, finely chopped 1 large garlic clove, chopped 350g risotto rice, such as Carnaroli, Vialone Nano or Arborio 100ml white wine 1.3–1.5 litres chicken or vegetable stock 250g frozen peas Defrosted 20 raw, peeled tiger prawns 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan Zest and a good squeeze of lemon 2 tablespoons chopped mint Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Directions: 1. Heat the olive oil and butter in a pan. 2. Add the onion, celery and garlic and gently soften for about 10 minutes. 3. Then add the rice, stir over the heat to start to toast the grains (a minute or so), then pour in the wine and cook until the alcohol evaporates (again about a minute). 4. Heat the stock in a pan and keep warm. 5. Add about 300ml of the stock and some seasoning to the rice. 6. Stirring occasionally, simmer over a medium heat until the liquid has nearly all gone. 7. Add another 300ml of hot stock and repeat the process, adding more stock as needed until you are down to the final 200ml of stock. 8. Taste the rice and if it is not very nearly cooked add a little more stock and cook for a further few minutes – it should be fairly liquid rather than stiff. 9. Add the peas and prawns and cook for another 3 minutes until the prawns are pink. Then throw in the Parmesan, butter, lemon zest and juice. 10. Stir, turn off the heat, then leave to rest for 5 minutes before stirring in most of the mint. 11. Serve, garnishing with the remaining mint.
I wanted to include an alternative use for South America’s wonder grain (or seed, in fact), rather than the usual recipes using quinoa for salads or accompaniments. And what could be better than to combine it with one of Mexico’s staple beans to produce these mildly spiced and very healthy veggie burgers – they can be a great way to help children to eat healthily, too, though you might want to reduce the spices slightly and perhaps add some sweetcorn niblets to the mixture as well. You can also serve them in smaller patties as a starter or nibble with a soured cream or salsa dip. They freeze beautifully and can be cooked from frozen.
Serves 4 Ingredients: 500ml vegetable or chicken stock 100g quinoa (I like to use the rainbow kind) 300g sweet potato, peeled and cut into 2cm cubes 400g tinned kidney or black beans, drained and rinsed 1 small carrot, grated 4 spring onions, finely chopped 2 medium free-range eggs 2 small garlic cloves, crushed 1⁄2 teaspoon paprika 1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (less if you don’t want any kick) A handful of coriander Chopped juice of 1 small lime 2 tablespoons olive oil, for frying To serve: soured cream lime wedges (optional)
Directions: 1. Bring the stock to the boil, add the quinoa and sweet potato and cook for about 10 minutes, adding the kidney or black beans for the final 5 minutes. 2. When the sweet potato is tender and the quinoa cooked, drain thoroughly and cool. 3. Put all the remaining ingredients (except the olive oil) in a bowl. 4. Add the cooled bean and quinoa mixture and, using the end of a rolling pin or a masher (I prefer the rolling pin), squash the mixture, crushing the beans and potato as you go. 5. Season with salt and ground pepper. With wet hands, form into 8 medium-sized or about 15 small cakes. 6. Put onto a plate and chill for at least 40 minutes. 7. Heat half the oil in a frying pan and gently add half the cakes. 8. Cook over a low- medium heat for about 3 minutes each side, turning them when the underside has browned. 9. Then repeat with the next batch. 10. Serve with a blob of soured cream.
This is best made in late summer when all the produce is in abundance and flavours are at their richest. Pearled spelt can be found in many health food shops; Sharpham Park is a wonderful British organic producer, whose grain products are available worldwide. Serve this risotto as it is, or as an accompaniment to sausages or roast lamb.
Serves 2 Ingredients: 3–4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 2 small red onions, cut into wedges 2 small or 1 large courgettes, cut into 2.5cm chunks 1 pepper, red or orange, cut into cubes 1 x 250g aubergine, sliced and cubed 2 large ripe tomatoes chopped 2 garlic cloves crushed a sprig of rosemary 100g pearled spelt, washed and drained 450ml vegetable stock 2 bay leaves A squeeze of lemon sea salt Freshly ground black pepper
Directions: 1. Heat 11⁄2 tablespoons of the oil in a sauté pan or shallow, wide saucepan and fry the onions gently for about 10 minutes. Then transfer to a bowl and set aside. 2. Add the courgette and pepper to the pan, season and fry for about 5 minutes over a high heat, then place in the bowl with the onions. 3. Add another 11⁄2 tablespoons oil and fry the aubergine over a high heat for 4–5 minutes until nearly softened, adding an extra tablespoon of oil if needed. 4. Turn the heat down to medium, then add the chopped tomatoes and their juice, the garlic and the rosemary. 5. Season with salt and pepper and stir-fry for 2 minutes. 6. Sprinkle in the spelt, stir with the tomatoes over the heat for a minute or so, then pour in the boiling hot stock and add the bay leaves. 7. Bring up to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. 8. Add the onion, peppers and courgettes and cook for a further 10–15 minutes or until the spelt is just tender, adding a splash of water if the risotto looks a little too dry. 9. Squeeze over the lemon, stir and taste for seasoning, then serve.
Combining rice with pulses is a great way to not only add extra nutritional value to a dish but also to layer textures and flavours together. Al dente green lentils with soft and chewy brown rice is a fabulous base for any number of combinations, but this herby salad with roasted peppers looks stunning on a plate and is delicious served with grilled or barbecued chicken or, for a vegetarian option, with some rocket leaves and crumbled feta thrown in.
Serves 4 Ingredients: 800ml vegetable stock 150g green lentils 150g wholegrain Basmati rice 2 red peppers, cut into wedges 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 180g cherry tomatoes, halved 200g tenderstem broccoli, trimmed 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds 2 tablespoons chopped blanched almonds juice Zest of 1 lemon 2 spring onions, finely chopped 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves 2 tablespoons chopped basil freshly ground black pepper
Directions: 1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas mark 6. 2. Bring the stock to the boil and add the lentils and rice. 3. Cook over a medium heat for 30–35 minutes or until the rice and lentils are tender (add more boiling water if the lentils begin to dry out). 4. Toss the red peppers and 11⁄2 tablespoonfuls of the oil in a roasting tin and roast for 20 minutes. 5. Add the cherry tomatoes and toss, then bake for a further 5 minutes. 6. Meanwhile, cook the broccoli in salted water until just tender but retaining a little crunch. 7. Drain and cut into 5cm pieces. 8. Toast the pumpkin seeds and almonds in a dry pan until the almonds are lightly browned. 9. Drain the lentils and rice and put into a bowl. 10. Add the peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, pumpkin seeds and almonds, along with the lemon juice and zest and remaining olive oil. 11. Season with black pepper and toss. 12. Leave to cool for 5 minutes before stirring in the spring onions and herbs. 13. Serve at room temperature.
Alternative to the cooked rice: cooked bulgar or cracked wheat
You can use quinoa only for this salad (replacing 50g amaranth with extra quinoa) or, as I have done, a mix of quinoa and amaranth. I find using a potato peeler makes hard work of skinning the pumpkin – a sharp knife is easier.
Serves 3-4 Ingredients: 750g pumpkin (approximately 600g peeled and deseeded), cut into 2cm-wide wedges 1 tablespoon sesame oil 1 tablespoon olive oil 1⁄2 teaspoon sugar 75g macadamia nuts or pecans 50g amaranth 100g quinoa, thoroughly washed 75g bunch of coriander, stems and leaves 1 small sweet red onion, thinly sliced 2 large handfuls of baby spinach leaves, washed sea salt and freshly ground black pepper For the dressing: 2 tablespoons lime juice 2 teaspoons dark soy sauce 11⁄2 teaspoons honey 1 teaspoon sesame oil 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar 1⁄2–1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
Directions: 1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas mark 6. 2. Put the pumpkin into a bowl with the sesame oil, olive oil, sugar and some salt and pepper and toss together. 3. Scatter over a roasting tin, lined with greaseproof paper, in a single layer. 4. Bake for 30–35 minutes, adding the macadamia nuts or pecans for the final 5 minutes. 5. Leave to cool, then roughly chop the nuts. 6. Meanwhile, simmer the amaranth for 8 minutes in 500ml boiling water. 7. Add the drained quinoa and boil for a further 10–12 minutes before draining and transferring to a bowl to cool slightly. 8. Mix all the dressing ingredients together with the finely chopped stems from the coriander. 9. Stir into the quinoa and then add the pumpkin, nuts, onion, coriander leaves and spinach leaves. 10. Toss lightly and serve.
Alternative to cooked quinoa: cooked freekeh or couscous or a mixture of cooked wild and basmati rice