I've had a recipe bookmarked from Nadine Abensur's Secrets From A Vegetarian Kitchen (1996) ever since I have had the cookbook, but I never seemed to get the courage to actually make it. I mean strawberries in a risotto, and this is not even a sweet dish - its savoury too, even Nadine the author of the cookbook writes she was 'curious if a little sceptical, but the slightly sweet, gently tangy taste was surprisingly good'.
I have raved about Nadine Abensur on my blog loads of times. She is perhaps the most influential vegetarian food writer on my initial development as a creative and experimental cook, so if I was not going to trust her culinary experience, then I wasn't going to trust anyone else.
So at the weekend, I had a go at making it, only that I did not follow the recipe instructions fully and used it more as a a guideline, something I know Nadine will forgive me for. I also added some homegrown garden lettuce to it and a little balsamic vinegar towards the end, as if the tangy taste from the strawberries wasn't enough. It really was unusual, yet nice. The red onions and the strawberries bleed a little into the risotto giving the dish a faint pink hue.
I know it is not risotto weather, the weather here has been extremely hot and the air still. So why on earth would I want to make risotto, well the other reason was to make the most of my home-grown strawberries. I don't just want to use them for sweet dishes, cakes and baked, but savoury ones too.
The last savoury dish I made with strawberries was actually last year and it was a Caramelised Red Onion, Thyme, Strawberry and Brie Tart. It was lovely too. I am sharing this risotto with Honest Mum for Tasty Tuesdays.
Strawberry, Lettuce and Black Pepper Risotto
Serves 4 with home-grown lettuce on the side
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large red onion, finely sliced
300g risotto rice
2 pints vegetable stock
Around 400g firm strawberries, calyx- the green bit removed
Handful of lettuce, roughly shredded
Salt and lots of freshly cracked black pepper to taste
Optional: Drizzle of Balsamic Vinegar
In a wide pan, heat the oil. Stir in the onion and sauté for 10 minutes or until soft. Then stir in the rice and cook for a couple of minutes until the grain are well coated and beginning to look translucent. Then stir in about 150ml of the vegetable stock. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Once the stock has been absorbed by the rice, gradually add more, a ladle at a time until all is used up. Stir frequently until the rice is cooked, about 25 - 55 minutes, maybe even more. About 10 minutes before the rice is perfectly cooked, stir in half of the strawberries and continue to cook until the rice is properly cooked. Taste and tweak seasoning to taste especially the black pepper, then stir in the rest of the strawberries and the shredded lettuce. Cook for a couple of minutes, then serve immediately with optional drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Inspired and Adapted from Nadine Abensur's Secrets From A Vegetarian Kitchen (1996).