Wholegrain risotto (with fish tempura and yoghurt dip)

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This is my all-time favourite risotto dish which takes less time to cook than a ‘real’ Italian risotto. Here I’ve matched it with some fish strips fried in a light tempura batter and some lemony yoghurt dressing. Grilled chicken would also be a great accompaniment.

Don’t even think about making this risotto with white rice – it has to be wholegrain all the way! I’ve made this recipe hundreds of times and it’s just so much better and tastier with brown rice.

The recipe comes from a great vegetarian book from Sarah Brown called Vegetarian Kitchen, which accompanied the popular BBC TV series of the same name, first broadcast way back in 1984. It was really the first time that vegetarian food had been dished up to the masses on TV.

As a teenager, the book and the series made quite an impression on me, and I remember my mum and I spending time together in the kitchen trying out many of Sarah Brown’s recipes.

I treasured this cookbook for years and years before somehow mislaying it in a house move. I managed to pick up a copy again last year through one of the second-hand online booksellers on Amazon. It was so nice to see its faded, brown and very 1980s looking cover again and the well-thumbed pages of an another appreciative owner. Don’t be fooled by the cover though, many of the recipes have really stood the test of time (in fact, many were ahead of their time) and would certainly not look out of place in a contemporary veggie cookbook.

Sarah Brown continued to be a pioneer in the vegetarian movement, setting up the Cordon Vert cookery school under the banner of the Vegetarian Society. It’s still a very popular and successful place today, offering quality cookery workshops and professional training.

In her book, Brown’s recipe is called Risotto Piedmontaise. I’ve changed it a little, but not a lot, as really it’s perfect the way it is.

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Mushroom and pea wholegrain risotto

Ingredients

One cup wholegrain brown rice
120 g frozen peas (or you can use fresh)
100g mushrooms, thinly slice (chestnut or button)
1 clove garlic, minced
50g mature cheddar cheese (you can add a little more if you like it really cheesy), grated
Juice of half a lemon (you can slice the other half and use as a garnish)
Olive oil for cooking
Sea salt and black pepper to season.

Cook the brown rice in a pan or rice cooker (I usually use a 3:1 ratio of water volume to brown rice) for around 25 minutes. In a separate pan cook the mushrooms and garlic in a little olive oil until soft. Add in the peas straight from frozen and stir for five minutes. Add in the cooked rice and grated cheese, and stir until well mixed and the cheese melted. Season with salt and pepper and add in the lemon juice.

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For the fish tempura

I used strips of haddock in the image, and its up to you how much you use. I left the skin on as it holds the fish together better –plus I like the skin!

For the tempura batter it’s equal parts self-raising flour to water (better if it’s iced or very cold water). So one cup of flour to one cup of water. You could also add 1 tsp cornflour. Before mixing together with a whisk, I added half a teaspoon of chilli powder, some salt and some dried Italian herbs to the flour.

Place the batter mix in a flat, shallow bowl so you can easily dip on the fish strips. Lightly fry in an oil of your choice until golden brown and crispy.

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Lemony yoghurt dressing

Ingredients

4 tps Greek yoghurt
1 tbps capers, finely chopped
Juice of half a lemon
Salt and black pepper to season

This is so easy to make and a great, light alternative to tartare sauce, without compromising on taste.

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