Creamy rissoto rice is paired with aubergine, peppers and courgette in this delicious easy to make Mediterranean vegetable risotto dish. A one pot dish that is perfect for a meat-free midweek meal.
Almost a one pot wonder
Risotto is a great meal in itself which is why it is such a popular midweek meal in our house, and being made predominantly in one pot it also means less washing up.
True it does take a bit of patience gently stirring the rice to encourage it to release its starches and produce a lovely sauce that enrobes the rice grains but I can find that quite relaxing after a busy day.
The time spent is amply rewarded with a delicious, filling and economical family meal.
You don't need an special equipment, just a large pan and a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula.
Until relatively recently I cooked risotto in a large shallow frying pan like the one pictured in the steps below. More recently I have tended to opt for a large saucepan. The results are just as good if not better and there is less spillage.
As the risotto itself is cooked in one pot I tend to think of it as a one pot meal. But you will get the best results if the stock you add to the risotto is hot.
Hot stock helps to release the rice’s starch and ensures even, continuous, and thorough cooking resulting in a creamier tasting dish.
So I recommend you have the stock gently simmering in a small pan. Ok, so that is technically two pots but even so it is still not a lot of equipment.
Can I prepare the Vegetable Risotto ahead of time?
Cooking the risotto does take at least 30 minutes once you start to add the stock which can be a bit of bind if time is short. If you want to cook the risotto ahead of time the trick is to par-cook the risotto.
If you fully cook it fully ahead of time it will become stodgy. As the hot risotto sits, rice grains start to absorb excess moisture, going from al dente to mushy.
Instead, cook the rice until it is just beginning to soften but still tastes chalky to the bite. Then cool as quickly as possible. A good way to do this is to tip the rice out onto a baking tray and spread out in a thin layer.
As soon as the risotto is cold, pack into a container, cover and chill in the refrigerator. Some risotto will keep for several days at this stage but because of the vegetables in this recipe, I would not make it more than 24 hours in advance.
To serve. Tip the part cooked rice into a pan add a little stock and heat gently then continue adding hot stock until the rice is cooked completely. Depending on how far you cooked the rice the first time it should not take longer than about 5 minutes.
What should I do with leftover risotto?
I like to make any left over risotto into Arancini. Balls of rice coated in breadcrumbs and fried.
Squash the cold risotto together to form a ball no bigger than a golf ball. Dust in flour before dipping into beaten egg and coating in breadcrumbs. Shallow or deep fry until crisp and golden.
Alternative shape into patties about the size of a burger instead of balls. Coat in flour egg and breadcrumbs and shallow fry.
Is this risotto suitable for vegetarians?
Yes but Do Not serve with the optional Parmesan Cheese to sprinkle. Parmesan cheese is made with animal rennet and so is not suitable for vegetarians. Use a vegetarian friendly cheese instead or omit altogether.
Mozzarella cheese is suitable for vegetarians so you do not need to seek a substitute for this.
Can I make it Vegan friendly?
If you want to make the rissoto vegan you will have to leave out both cheeses or seek vegan alternatives. Replace the butter with a extra 2 tbsp oil.
What should I serve with this Mediterranean risotto
Risotto is a meal in itself. If you wanted you could serve a green or mixed salad along side or if you are very hungry some garlic bread.
A glass of wine never goes amiss either. I like to use an Italian wine (it just seems right somehow) in the risotto itself such as a Verdicchio or Soave which also taste great served along side.
Do I have to use wine to make the risotto?
As I say I like to drink a glass of wine with my risotto so I am happy to open a bottle each time I make it as it gives me the perfect excuse to have a glass. If you don't have any wine you could substitute cider or a dry vermouth instead.
If you prefer not to have any alcohol then the wine may be omitted and replaced with additional stock instead.
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How to make Mediterranean vegetable risotto step by step
Mediterranean Vegetable Risotto
- 25 g butter
- 2 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil extra virgin
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 small aubergine ( Eggplant) about 250g (9oz) cut into cubes
- 175 g courgette ( zucchini) cut into cubes
- 1 red pepper seeded and diced
- 400 g arborio rice
- 150 ml dry white wine
- 1½ l hot vegetable stock
- 75 g cherry tomatoes halved
- 125 g mozzarella cheese cut into cubes
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Parmesan cheese (optional) to sprinkle
- Melt 25g (1oz) butter with 2tbsp oil in a large pan and sauté the onion for about 5 minutes until softened.
- Stir in 1 small cubed aubergine, 175g (6oz) cubed courgette and 1 diced red pepper and continue to sauté over a low heat until the vegetables are just tender about 5 –10 minutes.
- Add 400g (14oz) rice to the pan and cook stirring for a minute or two and then stir in 150ml (¼pt) white wine. Stir until the wine has been absorbed.
- Now add 1½ l(2½pt) hot stock a ladleful at a time. Cook over a low heat stirring until the stock has been absorbed before adding another ladleful. Continue cooking until you have added all the stock and the rice is just tender. Add a little more liquid if required.
- Once the rice is tender, remove from the heat. Stir in 75g (3oz) cherry tomatoes and 125g (4oz) diced mozzarella cheese. Taste and season with salt and pepper as required.
- Served sprinkled with Parmesan cheese before serving.