Now that is a lengthy title. Yikes. I might need a nap.*
I’m absolutely determined it’s Spring now, by the way; soon I’ll be donning my denim shorts and exposing my paper-white legs to the world, blinding passers-by and causing pedestrians to fall into nearby bodies of water. In light of the change in seasons (heralded by the fact that we no longer have to de-ice our car for ten minutes in the morning**), I decided to do a Winter-Spring bridging dish.
(Which made a lot more sense in my head.)
Quite a lot of people think that risotto is too much work to be worth it, but I’ve been making this meal in various forms for ten years and you can 100% do it at the same time as any of the following:
- watching Morecambe and Wise
- watching A Bit of Fry & Laurie
- watching any number of comedy duos
- doing laundry
- petting a dog with your foot
- Tweeting that you’re cooking
- dancing around the kitchen
- drinking wine and scrawling recipes in an old notebook ready for a blog post:
And so much more. It’s less about time with risotto than it is about attention, and as long as you give it a hearty stir every few minutes you’ll be absolutely golden
So come with me as we transition into a season that will hopefully not try to kill us.
Goats’ Cheese & Thyme Risotto with Honey-Roasted Parsnips (vegetarian, gluten-free)
Preparation time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 30 mins
Small roasting tray (I use an old square cake tin lined with parchment paper); large saucepan or wide frying pan; chopping equipment, as per usual; measuring jug; something to watch/boogie to as you stir.
For the risotto:
- 1 large leek
- 1 white onion
- 1 tbsp thyme leaves, stripped from the stalks
- 120g risotto rice (or arborio/carnaroli rice)
- 100g soft goats’ cheese
- 10g parmesan (2-3 tbsp)
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- Vegetable stock cube in 500ml boiling water
- Salt & pepper
- Splash of oil
For the parsnips:
- 2 large parsnips***
- 2 tsp oil
- 2 tsp runny honey
- Salt & pepper
- Sprig or two of thyme
- Turn the oven to 200°C and put your pan on a medium heat with a splash of oil. Chop your leek (checking for dirt, because only bullies want you to eat dirt and I’m no bully), the onion, and the thyme. Chopping thyme is incredibly satisfying, so enjoy that – I know I did. The wine helped.
- Peel the parsnips and cut into batons – not too thick, so that they cook in the same time as the risotto – and put them in the roasting tray with the honey, oil, a pinch of salt and a generous amount of pepper. Toss the parsnips to make sure they’re coated, then settle the remaining sprigs of thyme at the edges of the pan before putting in the oven. You can turn these halfway through the cooking time, but they can otherwise be left alone.
- Add the onion and leek to the frying pan, along with a little salt and pepper, and cook for 5-10 minutes until softened. Now add 1⁄2 of the thyme and all of the rice, stirring for a couple of minutes until the rice is turning translucent – finally, add the vinegar and stir for a minute longer. Add 1⁄3 of the stock and stir every couple of minutes until absorbed; the more you stir, the creamier your risotto will be, so put your back into it. Keep adding stock until it’s all used up.
- Once the last of the stock is almost completely absorbed, add the parmesan and goats’ cheese and stir gently until it’s melty, creamy, and undeniably delicious. Is there anything better than melted cheese? TRICK QUESTION. The answer is obviously ‘hell no’. Serve the risotto in deep bowls with the parsnips on top, sprinkled with the remaining thyme.
It took Isla and I roughly 20 seconds to eat this meal, in spite of the vast quantities I piled into our bowls, so that should say something about how much we enjoyed this combination of flavours. I would recommend serving this with a generous glass of Sauvignon Blanc, because that’s how I recommend you serve everything.
I hope the weather has eased where you are, and that you are no longer terrified to venture out into the world for fear of slipping on black ice and dying instantly at the hands of Mother Nature. Happy cooking!
*I always need to nap, so this is largely an unnecessary statement for me to make.
**When I lived with my parents, what heralded Spring was ‘the Pastures Pheasant’. This brazen bird would strut down our street and make an awful racket as soon as it was light and he had deemed that it was time for us all to accept the sun our lord and saviour into our lives. He was a dramatic little shit.
***You want hefty buggers for this – that way you end up with chunkier batons and less of those spindly bits that go black if you so much as show them to an oven. Unless you like those bits! In which case, get around 4-5 spindly ones and go to town. Live your parsnip-based dreams.