My love affair with Chef Ottolenghi and his food continues. I have never had a cookbook that inspires me, makes me so happy and that I want to cook from so often. Usually, I am ready to adapt – make my own changes but his recipes are flawless and the combinations are just perfect.
The latest recipe that I have made is Lemon and Eggplant Risotto … I wanted to weep. It is light but satisfying; mouthwatering and entices the palate without blowing it out. The dish is perfect for any season but it does evoke Spring a bit more. I made mahi-mahi on the grill and this was the side. It was a hit and a recipe that I will be making in 20 years – classical, flavorful and makes your guests think you are a SUPER STAR!
Thank you, Chef Ottolenghi – and I promise not to twitter stalk you too much. Although, I AM planning a trip to my beloved London just to eat at his shops!
I chose to burn the eggplant on the grill and I had a blast doing it. Mine could have cooked just a bit longer but since this was the first go, I have plenty more times to perfect this!
Normally, I use Arborio Rice that I purchase at an Italian Market locally but I had some amazing rice from Gourmet Delights to try: Acquerello Carnaroli Rice. This rice is MADE for risotto – it absorbed the liquid beautifully and maintained integrity throughout the process AND the next day. I know now why it is called the “Rolls Royce” of rice! An added benefit, Acquerello contains more proteins, minerals, vitamins and all the other micro-elements within the germ otherwise present only in brown rice. You will not regret using this rice with ANY risotto!
ENJOY! and let me know how it turns out!
- 2 medium eggplants
- ½ cup olive oil plus 1 TB olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 7 oz good quality risotto rice (arborio rice)
- ½ cup white wine (I like Sauvignon Blanc for risotto)
- 3¼ cups hot vegetable stock (I use organic from Whole Foods)
- grated zest of 1 lemon
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1½ tablespoons butter
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese (I used a bit more to garnish)
- ½ cup basil leaves, shredded
- coarse sea salt and black pepper
- Start by burning one of the eggplants. This can be done one of several ways. On a gas stove, the eggplant can be put directly on a moderate flame and roasted for 12-15 minutes (turning frequently with metal tongs) until the flesh is soft and smoky and the skin is burnt all over. To roast in the oven, pierce the eggplant with a sharp knife in a few places. Put it on a foil-lined tray and place directly under a hot broiler for 45 minutes, turning a few times. The aubergine needs to deflate completely and its skin should burn and break. It should look very wrinkly. Or you can use the grill like I did and keep turning it - about 20-25 minutes.
- Once the eggplant is ready, remove it from the heat and make a long cut through it. Scoop out the soft flesh while avoiding the skin. Discard the skin. Chop the flesh roughly and set aside.
- Cut the other eggplant into a ½ inch dice, leaving the skin on. Heat up ⅓ cup of the olive oil in a frying pan and fry the eggplant dice in batches until golden and crisp. (you may need more oil).Transfer to a colander and sprinkle with salt. Leave to cool.
- Put the onion and remaining oil in a heavy pan and fry slowly until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for a further 3 minutes. Turn up the heat and add the rice, stirring to coat it in the oil. Fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the wine (it should hiss) and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until nearly evaporated. Turn the heat down to medium.
- Now start adding the hot stock to the rice, a ladleful at a time, waiting until each addition has been fully absorbed before adding the next and stirring all the time. When all the stock has been added remove the pan from the heat. Add half of the lemon zest, the lemon juice, grilled aubergine flesh, butter, most of the parmesan and ¾ teaspoon salt. Stir well, then cover and leave aside for 5 minutes. Taste and add more salt, if you like, plus some black pepper.
- To serve, spoon the risotto into shallow bowls and sprinkle with the diced eggplant, the remaining parmesan, the basil and the rest of the lemon zest.