Here celery is both a vegetable and aromatic – the celery put in at the beginning gives the risotto an underlying flavour, while the
celery added later gives a freshness and brightness to the dish which is highlighted by the addition of parsley at the end.
This recipe is loosely based on one from Marcella Hazan’s book The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking MacMillan London Ltd 1992, which as regular readers know is my favourite cookbook.
My love of risotto once took me to a Milan restaurant specialising in risotto. Years ago, after reading a review for Trattoria Casa Fontana in Food and Wine magazine, on a trip on Italy shortly afterwards I was determined to eat at this restaurant and it is one of the most memorable dining experiences of my life.
A quick Google search tells me that this restaurant is still in business and reading the reviews on various sites it looks as if it still serves great food and is worth a visit if in that part of the world.
If there is some good looking celery leaves at the top of the bunch, take a few of these and chop to use as a garnish on the finished dish.
As risotto relays on the quality of its ingredients using a good stock makes all the difference.
Serves 4 as a main course or 8 as a first course
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 litre vegetable stock
1 cup Arborio or risotto rice
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
6 sticks celery, finely diced
½ cup chopped parsley
½ cup grated Hohepa Vintage Cheddar or Parmesan cheese –
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 Place onion, a splash of oil and a knob of butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat, cover and cook, stirring, for 10-15 minutes or until onion is soft and translucent.
2 Place stock in a separate saucepan over a medium heat and bring to simmering, reduce heat and keep warm.
3 Add rice to pan with onion and cook, stirring for 2-3 minutes to coat. Add garlic and half the celery to the pan and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes longer.
4 Add about ½ cup or a ladle of warm stock to pan and cook, stirring, until rice has absorbed the liquid, continue in this way,
adding a ½ cup or ladle of stock at a time until rice is cook – it should be tender with a slight bite – it will take about 20 minutes. Add
remaining celery after about 10 minutes.
5 Add parsley and half the cheese to the risotto, mix to
combine and season to taste with salt and black pepper. Serve
scattered with remaining cheese.
Serving suggestion: For a complete meal, accompany with a salad of mixed leaves. Great for a vegetarian main or first course.
Happy cooking and eating.
Recipe by Rachel Blackmore
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