Sweet Pepper Risotto with Goat’s cheese; bonus Kale Salad

sweet pepper risotto After having been away for a couple of weeks there is a distinct change from high summer to late summer in both weather and produce. As an Englishman I am very pleased the heat has tempered somewhat; as a cook I feel I can use the stove and oven a little more, and as someone who procures the best from the farmers markets I’m glad to see some great sweet peppers on offer. So what better than to make a delicious roasted sweet pepper risotto as a late summer treat. risotto rice   Risotto is a wonderfully versatile dish and once you’ve learned how to make the basic recipe, what you choose to put in it is limited by your imagination. We had a great springtime risotto with fiddlehead fern and asparagus, fresh with grassy notes and herbs. This sweet pepper risotto is redolent of hot summer days. For autumn, we can flavour the creamy rice with sweet roasted butternut squash and almonds. And then in winter mushrooms and sage warm the soul after a long day outside. But for now, let’s focus on the end of summer and what it has to offer. heirloom tomatoes and sweet peppers   Amongst other things, the market right now is all about sweet peppers and a dizzying variety of heirloom tomatoes. From tiny sungolds to massive beefsteaks there is a tomato around for just about any thing you should desire. And the same goes with peppers. From sweet to blisteringly hot; red, yellow, green and purple; fist-sized to tiny birdseye, there is something for all tastes. I decided to work with a mixed box of tomatoes from Eckerton Hill Farm and some sweet peppers from Stokes, but really you could choose from about a dozen vendors and still come up with produce far superior and less expensive than the Whole Foods lumbering smugly on the south side of Union Square. soft goat cheese   To offset the intense sweetness of the tomatoes and peppers I opted to add just a smidgeon of goat cheese. I find that the slight tanginess of the cheese really works well with the tomato and pepper flavours and makes a really nice change from parmesan for the risotto. You need surprisingly little to make a difference—I used just a teaspoon’s worth for a generous two-person sweet pepper risotto. If anything you need to exercise a little restraint lest you overwhelm. I find adding a little at a time until you hit a perfect balance works well here. kale   And lastly as a little bonus I made a super-quick salad of shredded raw kale to accompany the sweet pepper risotto. After surviving two years being overwhelmed by armfuls of kale each week I have to confess I’ve become a little gun-shy of using much kale here at B & H. But it actually is a tremendous vegetable: very tasty, very good for you, and very versatile. So when I wanted to whip together a quick salad to go with the risotto I was glad to have this bunch of Lacinato Kale to hand. I based the salad below on a recipe over at food 52 for a Kale and Mint Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing. I really like the original recipe, but decided to simplify it a little just to cut down on the number of ingredients, and swapped out the walnuts for peanuts to keep things a little sweeter. making sweet pepper risotto

 

Sweet Pepper Risotto with Goats Cheese
Serves 2
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
55 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
55 min
Ingredients
  1. Half a dozen small bell peppers (or one regular sized sweet pepper), deseeded and chopped into rough pieces
  2. Three or four small tomatoes chopped into similar sized pieces
  3. A clove of Garlic, thinly sliced
  4. A small onion, finely chopped
  5. 6oz Arborio Rice
  6. A half glass of White Wine
  7. A couple of tablespoons (1oz) butter
  8. 1.5-2 cups vegetable stock
  9. 1-2 teaspoons soft creamy goat cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450º.
  2. Toss the peppers, tomatoes and garlic together in a roasting tin with a healthy slurp of Olive OIl. Pop it in the oven and let them cook down, until charred here and there and sweet like candy. Give them a shake every 5-10 minutes and expect them to take about 30 minutes total.
  3. After your last shake of the peppers, you can get started with the risotto. Put the stock in one pan and heat it so it's almost, but not quite, boiling. In another pan over a medium heat, melt half the butter and add the onion. Let it soften for a few minutes, then add the rice. After a couple of minutes sizzling away pour in the wine and keep stirring. The payoff for all this work is the awesome aroma in your kitchen right now.
  4. By now your peppers and tomatoes should be done. Add them to the rice (if not, you can safely hold off for another ten minutes or so while you add stock to the rice).
  5. Now add a ladleful of the stock and keep stirring. As you stir some liquid will evaporate and some will be absorbed by the rice. When it's looking a little dry add another ladleful of stock and keep stirring. Repeat this process until you are about fifteen to twenty minutes in and have almost used up the stock. Taste the rice. You want it to still have just a little bite. Taste and season with salt and pepper (how much will depend on how salty your stock is), but bear in mind you'll be adding cheese too soon so don't overdo it.
  6. When the rice is done, gently fold in the remaining butter and a little goat cheese. Taste again and add more goat cheese and seasoning if needed.
Barnes and Hoggetts http://barnesandhoggetts.com/
Lacinato Kale and Peanut Salad
Serves 2
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Prep Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. A small bunch Lacinato Kale, stems removed and finely chopped
  2. A small handful roasted unsalted peanuts, crushed
  3. 2 tablespoons Peanut Butter
  4. 3 Tablespoons Water
  5. 3 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar
  6. 1 Tablespoon Pomegranate Molasses
  7. 1 Clove Garlic, crushed
  8. A large pinch Red Chilli Flakes
Instructions
  1. Mix together the kale and peanuts in a large salad bowl.
  2. Pop the remaining ingredients in a jar with a screw top lid and shake well to mix until you have an intensely flavourful, homogenous dressing.
  3. Gently fold into the kale and let sit 20 minutes before serving.
Adapted from Food 52
Adapted from Food 52
Barnes and Hoggetts http://barnesandhoggetts.com/

Pairing with Sweet Pepper Risotto

I think this would be exceptional with a nice Californian Sauvignon Blanc or perhaps a nice Spanish Rosado. If you were in more of a red wine mood, then I would still stick with something on the fruitier end. perhaps a Merlot or a Beaujolais?

Provenance

Peppers: Stokes Farm

Tomatoes: Eckerton Hill Farm

Garlic: Lani’s Farm

Onion, Kale: Paffenroth Gardens

Rice, Chilli Flakes: Kalustyan’s

Wine: Pasanella and Sons 

Butter: Kate’s Butter

Stock: Better than Bouillon

Goat Cheese: Montchevré

Peanut Butter: Once Again

Peanuts, Pomegranate Molasses: Sahadi’s

 

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