Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Vegan Strawberry, Lettuce and Black Pepper Risotto

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).  


  1. I love Nadine Abensur too, her Cranks Fast Food was one of the first veggie recipe books I got into and it's still the one I've made most recipes from and similarly her style inspired me to be more flexible if I didn't have the exact ingredients. I'm not sure if strawberry risotto is a step too far though!

    1. Thanks Cali,
      Good to meet another Nadine Abensur fan.

  2. Looks lovely but I just can't get my head around strawberries in a risotto!!! Well done you for trying it.

    1. Thanks Lorna, it did take me years to find the inclination to actually try and I am so glad I have, must make it with firm strawberries though, not ripe ones - makes all the difference.

  3. I am so intrigued by this... I love risotto and have tried the strawbs like this before so i think i'd like it!

    1. Thanks Dom. I have no doubt that you and the Viking would enjoy it.

  4. wow I think lettuce is as challenging in this dish as strawberries but it sounds amazing - dinner party food to impress guests - great way to use up some strawberries - I must remember it come summer (already bookmarked and you know it can take me some time to get to your recipes that I bookmark!!!)

    1. Thanks Johanna, the lettuce is a bit like lettuce, but much plainer in taste. Hope you get to try a variation some day.

  5. Stunning and strawberry is not something I'd think of adding in risotto but this looks like delicious summery food! Thanks for linking up to #tastytuesdays


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