Raisin and Caraway Risotto

I’m a sucker for summer risotto: local asparagus, courgette flowers, fresh tomatoes off the vine. Unfortunately, as the London rain has been reminding me, it isn’t summer any more. But the colder months don’t have to mean the loss of good risotto as this dish takes advantage of two ingredients that don’t disappear with the sunshine: raisins and caraway seeds. It makes for a lovely, creamy and slightly sweet dinner suitable on its own or as a starter.

Note: Ground flax seeds will appear frequently in my recipes. As a vegetarian, it can be hard to get enough omega-3 fatty acids, which are primarily found in oily fish. They don’t sound very appealing, but they do help reduce your risk of heart disease and all kinds of other good things. My current bag also contains ground pumpkin and sunflower seeds. I keep it in the fridge and add a tablespoon here and there. Depending on how much I add, they either disappear into the dish or add a subtle nutty flavour.

These measurements make enough for one hungry person, or two more moderate eaters. It is a very flexible recipe, easily increased or decreased depending on your requirements. It’s also built for easy substitution of vegetables, so use whatever is in your fridge.

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp butter or olive oil
  • ½ small onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed or finely chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh chilli, finely chopped
  • about 3 Tbsp green pepper, diced
  • about 3 Tbsp zucchini, diced
  • ½ c. risotto rice
  • about 1-2 cups water or stock
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds
  • 2 Tbsp raisins
  • 1 Tbsp ground flax seeds
  • mature cheddar cheese or parmesan cheese, grated or shaved
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Heat the butter or oil on medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, and fry. Once they’re translucent, add the chilli, green pepper and zucchini. Fry slowly until soft.

Add the rice, cook for 3-5 minutes until rice slightly translucent. Stir regularly so it doesn’t stick. Add about a ¼ of water or stock, caraway seeds, raisins and flax seeds. Stir and simmer until water has been absorbed. Continue adding liquid a ¼ cup at a time, waiting for it to be absorbed each time. Don’t forget to stir! Continue until the rice is creamy and soft, with a little bite, about 15 minutes.

Remove from heat, and add the cheese and salt or pepper to taste. Stir well. Cover and allow to sit for 2 minutes. Garnish with remaining parmesan cheese if desired, and serve hot. Enjoy!

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