Chicory and Sun-dried Tomato Risotto

A creamy risotto, made with proper risotto rice such as the arborio or carnaroli varieties, is always a treat. Risottos do need stirring almost constantly while you cook but they are ideal for an informal kitchen meal and need no other accompaniment, except perhaps a leaf or two of green salad. If possible, use home-made stock — if it is good it makes a great difference.

Ingredients

  • 2 plump chicory
  • 1 small onion
  • 10-12 sun-dried tomatoes
  • about 1.5 litres/ pints good vegetable stock
  • 75 g/3 oz butter
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 level tablespoon golden caster sugar
  • 350 g/12 oz risotto rice, such as arborio or carnaroli
  • 25 g (1 oz) Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Method

Cut the base off the chicory and slice across fairly thinly. Peel the onion and chop small. Slice the sun-dried tomatoes in half lengthways. Heat the stock to simmering point and keep on a burner at a low simmer while you make the risotto.

Melt 50 g/2 oz of the butter with the olive oil in a large, heavy-based pan over a medium heat. Add the prepared chicory and onion and fry gently until soft and golden. Then stir in the sun-dried tomatoes and caster sugar, add the rice and stir around for 1-2 minutes, until the rice is opaque. Now add a ladleful of the simmering stock and stir until it has been absorbed by the rice. Continue adding stock, a ladleful at a time, waiting for it to be absorbed before adding more. Keep stirring all the time for 20-25 minutes, until the rice is soft but still has a central bite to it. You should add enough stock for the rice to be slightly loose, not solid.

Finally, stir in the grated Parmesan and the remaining butter, with salt and black pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

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