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Eggplant Risotto

LEMON AND EGGPLANT RISOTTO - Serves 4

Recipe from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi


Ingredients:

2 medium eggplants

½ cup plus 1 tbsp olive oil

Coarse sea salt

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves crushed

7 oz good-quality risotto rice

½ cup white wine

3¼ cups hot vegetable stock

Grated zest of 1 lemon, less if you prefer

2 tbsp lemon juice

1 ½ tbsp butter

½ cup grated Parmesan

Black pepper

½ cup shredded basil leaves


Directions:

Start by burning one of the eggplants. If you have an electric stove like I do, pierce the eggplant with a sharp knife in a few places. Place in a foil-lined tray and put directly under a broiler for about an hour, turning a few times. If you have a gas stove, line the area around the burner with foil. Then put the eggplant directly on a moderate flame and roast for 12 to 15 minutes, turning frequently with metal tongs. The eggplant is done when flesh is soft and the skin is burnt.


While the burnt eggplant is cooling, cut the other eggplant into ½-inch dice. Heat up ⅓ cup of the olive oil in a large frying pan and fry the eggplant in batches (or all at once if your pan is big enough) until golden and crisp. Transfer to a colander and sprinkle with salt. Leave to cool.


Take the cooled, burnt eggplant and gently peel off the burnt skin. Roughly chop the remaining flesh and set aside.


Put the onion and remaining 4 tablespoons of oil in a heavy pan and fry slowly until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for a further 3 minutes. Turn up the heat and add the rice, stirring to coat it in the oil. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the wine and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until the wine is nearly evaporated. Turn the heat down to medium.


Now it is time to start adding the stock. I like to keep mine warm on a nearby burner. One ladleful at a time, add it to the rice. Wait until each addition has been fully absorbed before adding the next. Constantly stir the rice to prevent sticking and ensure even cooking. When all of the stock has been added, remove the pan from the heat. Add half of the lemon zest, the lemon juice, half of the diced eggplant, all of the burnt eggplant, butter, most of the Parmesan and ¾ teaspoon salt.  Stir well, then cover and set aside for 5 minutes. Taste, and add more salt, iy you like, plus heaps of cracked black pepper.


To serve, spoon the risotto into shallow bowl and sprinkle with the remaining diced eggplant, Parmesan, basil and lemon zest.


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