Friday, 10 April 2009

Garlic and shallot risotto

I got inspiration for this dish whilst flicking through Sarah Beatties book called Neither fish nor fowl. Sarah Beattie is a vegetarian cook and was a Masterchef of the North in 1991. Not many people who have appeared on Masterchef have been vegetarian. The only other person I am aware of was Rosa Baden-Powell who actually won Masterchef in 2001. It was around this time that I had started to discover the joys of cooking innovatively with vegetables.

Anyway, back to Sarahs recipe for Garlic risotto. Her recipe was a bit too time consuming for me especially after a full day at work. She simmers the garlic with spices for an hour and then she squeezes the pulp of the garlic. I just want some warm food on the table. As I am low on fresh produce, and a trip to the supermarket or the local farmers markets is beckoning, until then however, I have to make do with what I do have. I am always well stocked with various types of rice, lentils and pulses, but also with garlic, shallots and onions. So this evening I had decided to put the spotlight on the garlic and make it the key ingredient in my dish of Garlic and shallot risotto.
Please don’t frown at the thought of garlic. I know in the UK, many people have this poor attitude towards the garlic. The garlic conjures up that familiar stereotype of the French man with a pencil moustache, wearing a stripy top with garlic around his neck as he is peddling on his bicycle somewhere or other. Unfortunately this prejudice towards the garlic has developed into some peoples psyche, not just towards the food, but towards people who ate or smelled a little different. But I like the garlic. I always have, well before ‘garlic bread’ became popular in this country. I grew up eating it as it formed the base of many of my mothers dishes.

Please do try this recipe. On slowly cooking the slices of garlic in olive oil, the garlic takes on a completely different flavour from its raw form. It is meltingly soft and so sweet.
Garlic and shallot risotto
Serves 2
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 bulb of garlic, cloves peeled and sliced
1 ¼ pint of vegetable stock
250g risotto rice, I use Arborio
Chives or garlic chives, snipped for garnish
Optional: Good olive oil or vegetarian Parmesan for grating over
In a wide pan, warm oil and add shallots till translucent, then add garlic and cook gently. Be careful not to brown the garlic, you just want it to be translucent and soft.
Then add rice and stir frequently over medium heat until it to becomes translucent. Then add ladle of stock and bring to the boil, stirring constantly, until all the liquid is absorbed.
Then add more stock little by little, until all the stock has been absorbed and the rice is creamy and the grains separate. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and stir again before serving.
Garnish with chives and optional grating of Parmesan cheese or drizzle of good olive oil.


  1. Vegetarians don't seem to get very far on cookery programmes. Shame really.
    The risotto looks delicious, certainly packed with garlic flavour!

  2. Your a great cook Nicisme. Your blog is such an inspiration for newbies like me. I also love your photographs. Ever considered becoming a food photographer?


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