Let's Cook with Meg and Ted

Capsicum and zucchini risotto with pesto

When I first made this risotto I happened to have a bit of pesto on hand, so it was an easy meal. The swirl of green pesto through the risotto does look lovely, but if you can't be bothered making your own pesto, don't reach for vinegary jarred stuff, just add torn basil leaves and toasted pine nuts instead. I am coming around to preferring that version myself anyway - I don't often like nuts in risotto, but the pine nuts add interesting texture.

1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
olive oil and/or butter
300 g arborio rice
1.5 litres vegetable stock
1 large red capsicum, chopped
3 small-medium zucchinis, chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
freshly grated parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons home-made pesto
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Bring the stock to a simmer on the stove. In a large pan, heat the oil or butter, and gently fry the onion until soft. Add the arborio and stir for two to three minutes, until it is toasted and well covered with butter. Add one ladle of the hot stock, and stir until it has been completely absorbed. Continue adding the stock ladle by ladle, always stirring, never drowning the rice, for about 18-22 minutes, until the rice is still slightly firm but not chalky.

Meanwhile, toss the capsicum, zucchini and garlic in a baking dish with a dash of olive oil and some sea salt and pepper. Cook at 180C for about 15-20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and slightly browned. Remove from the oven and set aside.

When the rice is almost finished, add the vegetables and stir through until warm. Remove the pan from the heat, add a handful of grated parmesan and stir through, along with salt and pepper to taste. Put the lid on the pan and let it rest for two minutes. Then serve with a spoonful of pesto (or stir the pesto through for a lovely green-tinted risotto).

Serves 3 - 4.

January 2003

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