“If I could just get a piece of lemon, it’d be great.” Lemon risotto with oven roasted baby broccoli

The little quote in the headline comes from Rip Torn, an american actor. I think he was right there as well as with another quote: “You can never turn your back on the ocean.” Simple but true. You would probably not guess that a man that speaks those zen-like sentences would take a gun and rob a bank, right? That’s what he did last year. Hey, Rob, I’m sorry for you, hope you come back to face the ocean with just a piece of lemon on your risotto …

Lemons are wonderful. They look great, they smell fresh and you can add their zest to almost every dish and you will be surprised how well they fit in the probably most unlikely places and give the dishes just this little extra flavour. On our menu today we let them play a leading part and they’re really up to it, you’ll see.

Ingredients (serves 4):

Lemon risotto:

  • 2 cups risotto rice (arborio)
  • 1 bundle scallions, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup vermouth or white wine
  • zest of two organic (untreated) lemons, juice of lemon to taste
  • approx. 1.2 liter vegetable broth
  • 1 cup organic coconut milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • for decoration: 1 lemon, sliced and pan roasted

Oven roasted baby broccoli:

  • 500 g baby broccoli, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • zest of two organic (untreated) lemons
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper

First prepare the baby broccoli: preheat the oven to 370°  F (or 180° C). Spread the olive oil on a baking sheet and add the baby broccoli and sprinkle it with the chopped garlic, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Put it in the oven and let it roast for about 15 minutes or until the risotto is ready to serve (don’t overcook it though, it should be “al dente”).

For the risotto heat the olive oil in a saucepan, add 2/3 of the chopped scallions and the rice. After a minute the rice will look slightly translucent. Add the vermouth or wine and keep stirring. Any harsh alcohol flavours will evaporate and leave the rice with a tasty essence. Once the vermouth or wine has cooked into the rice, add your first ladle of hot vegetable broth. Turn down the heat to a simmer so the rice doesn’t cook too quickly on the outside. Keep adding ladlefuls of stock, stirring and allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next. Occasionally add the coconut milk. Taste the rice — is it cooked? Carry on adding stock until the rice is soft but with a slight bite and the risotto has a creamy consistency. This will take around 15 minutes. If you run out of stock before the rice is cooked, add some boiling water. Remove from the heat and add the lemon zest, the rest of the chopped scallions, some lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Stir well. Serve the risotto with the broccoli on top and add two slices of pan roasted lemon to each serving. Enjoy.

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