As the nights start to get shorter in autumn, my cooking style changes dramatically. Out go the salads, pastas and lighter meals of summer and in come the thick, heart-warming dishes of winter. I tend to find cooking very therapeutic, and love nothing more than spending 10 or 20 minutes peeling, chopping and preparing veg for a delicious stew or risotto. You get into your own rhythm when doing this, and once practiced, you can do it without thinking, which gives me time to reflect on my day and clear my mind.
Of all the winter dishes I cook, risotto is one of my favourites. It’s a true Italian peasant classic, a way of turning a small amount of food into a dish that feeds many people – and extremely cheap to make, which is perfect in the current recession. The only ingredient that is any way “out of the ordinary” is the risotto rice – which is now stocked by all of the major supermarket chains, and I’ve even seen it in some of the larger ‘corner shops’ lately.
Risotto takes time, but once you’ve cooked it once or twice it won’t tie up a lot of your attention, so it’s a great method of relaxing into your evening. It’s also incredibly tasty and super simple – so don’t be scared of trying to cook it!
The recipe I’m giving here serves about 6 people, as this is usually the quantity I make in one go. If there’s only the two of us in the house, then we eat it over a couple of days, re-heating it in the microwave for about 2 mins, with a sheet of kitchen roll on top to stop it spitting everywhere. It’s also really versatile, as you don’t have to add your toppings to the main pan of risotto, but can simply place them on top of a portion in a bowl – which means that you can vary the taste and not feel like you are eating the same meal three times in a row!