Another delicious dish by Yotam Ottolenghi who recommends making some home-made stock which we duly did. Throw some aromatic vegetables and herbs into a large pot (we used carrot, celery, onion, parsley, garlic, lemongrass and fennel), cover with water and simmer for 30 minutes. This dish does take some time to make but is completely worth the effort and time with levels of flavour and texture that really make this risotto special.
Lemon and aubergine risotto – to serve 4
- 2 medium aubergines
- 130ml olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 200g good-quality risotto rice
- 120ml white wine
- 750ml hot vegetable stock
- grated zest of 1 lemon
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 20g butter
- 50g Parmesan, grated
- 10g basil leaves, shredded
First you need to literally burn one of the aubergines. Pierce it with a sharp knife then put on a foil-lined tray and place under a hot grill for an hour, turning now and then. You need the aubergine to deflate and the skin to be burnt and breaking. Carefully spoon out the soft flesh without getting any of the burnt skin, then chop the flesh roughly and set aside.
Cut the other aubergine into 1.5 cm cubes. Heat 80ml of the olive oil in a frying pan and fry the aubergine in batches until golden and crisp. Transfer to a colander, sprinkle with salt and leave to cool.
Put the onion and the rest of the oil in a heavy-based pan and fry slowly until soft. Add the garlic and cook for 3 minutes. Turn up the heat and add the rice, stirring until it is well coated with oil. Fry for a few minutes, then add the wine and cook until nearly evaporated. Turn the heat down to medium.
Start adding the hot stock to the rice, a ladeful at at time, and wait until each addition is absorbed before adding the next and stirring all the time. When all the stock has been added take the pan off the heat. Add half the lemon zest, the lemon juice, grilled aubergine flesh, butter, most of the Parmesan and ¾ tsp salt. Stir well, then cover and leave to rest for 5 minutes. Taste and correct the seasoning with more salt and some black pepper.
Serve the risotto sprinkled with the diced aubergine, the rest of the Parmesan, the basil and the rest of the lemon zest.
Drink with: an Italian red to complement the earthy flavour of the charred aubergine and stand up to the acidity of the lemon. We drank a Chianti Rufina made by Selvapiana, where we visited in April, and it was superb.
(Original recipe from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi, Ebury Press, 2010.)