What’s cooking today: Broccoli and Cheddar cheese risotto
When the garden rewards you with a head of broccoli as the fruit of your careful tending, celebrate it by turning it into a delicious supper.
We have a local WhatsApp group for vegetable growers who need to buy seedlings, the proceeds of which favour a children’s charity. I ordered all sorts, prepared a long bed with manure, and in they went: cabbages, broccoli, joi choi (a hybrid pak choi that tolerates cold conditions and doesn’t bolt to seed), spring onions, chillies, peas and green beans.
This week I picked the first broccoli plant to reach maturity, a beautiful and perfect head of broccoli. (I’m eyeing the green peas for a recipe to do in the next week or so.)
Anything plucked straight from the garden is going to have sand and whatnot lodged in its unreachable parts, so you have to run a sinkful of plenty of cold water and let the florets soak for a while for everything to dislodge and be washed away under cold running water afterwards.
This done, I decided that the broccoli would be turned into risotto, along with Cheddar cheese. I had first snipped the florets off the hard, chunky stems, which are useless.
(Makes about 4 bowls)
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
Olive oil, as needed
250 g arborio rice
Broccoli, 1 head of
150 ml dry white wine
1 litre vegetable stock
250 ml/1 cup grated Cheddar cheese
Salt and white pepper to taste
Parsley for garnish
Make sure the broccoli florets are clean and have drained.
Blanch the broccoli florets in rapidly boiling water for a minute or two, then drain well.
Sauté the onions and garlic in olive oil and remove to a side dish.
Add plenty more olive oil to the pan and add the arborio rice. Immediately move the rice around gently, this way and that, using a flat-edged silicone spatula or wooden spoon. This is to ensure that every grain of rice is coated in oil, which is essential for a good risotto.
Return the cooked onion to the pan and add the wine a little at a time, adding more only when the previous addition has mostly cooked away. Continue until all the wine has been incorporated.
Now add some of the vegetable stock at a time, in a similar way, but don’t let all of it cook away this time. You need some sauciness to your risotto. Reserve one ladle of stock to go in at the end.
Chop the broccoli florets finely and stir them in, and season with salt and pepper. Let it cook for about three minutes, stirring gently.
Stir in the cheese, then stir in the extra ladle of stock.
Chop a little parsley to sprinkle over when you serve, which you should do immediately after it’s done. DM
Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks.
This dish is photographed in a risotto bowl by Mervyn Gers Ceramics.