Unconventional mascarpone risotto with oven roasted vegetables and beet greens

Risotto

Two nights ago I roasted vegetables for supper. I had to deal with a load of them left from my weekly delivery. What was left over, I pureed with the intention to prepare a nice wintery soup for the following day at work. But as it happened, in the fury of preparing for the day, I fell short of time. In the evening I took the pure out and noticed I had a bunch of wilting beet greens that badly needed cooking. I remembered an amazing risotto I had once eaten in a restaurant in Queen’s Park with pumpkin and spinach and came with an idea. I’ll mix the roasted veggie pure in the risotto and add the beet greens to balance the sweetness.

I haven’t cooked risotto for a long time because of the white rice. I don’t keep white items in my cupboard anymore. Table salt, white sugar, flour and rice are what they now call anti-nutrients. I didn’t have brown Arborio rice so I had to use plain brown rice. For risotto enthusiast this might be a big transgression but I thought I’d break the rules and try and, oh boy, did it work! The sweet and earthy flavours of the rice, roasted root vegetables and mascarpone combined with the bitterness of greens made such a great combination that I could not help but to share this with you. So, here it goes:

P.s. I warn you, this is not a conventional way of cooking the risotto because the rice is different. I also won’t be able to give you an exact recipe because I worked with my gut feelings. I can only guess these were the measures:

200ml brown rice

Water

1 tsp vegetable bouillon powder

Ghee

1 large onion

1dl white wine

2 tbsp mascarpone cheese

200ml roasted vegetable pure’

(I used: potatoes, carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes and garlic)

Bunch of beet greens

parmesan cheese

salt

pepper

Olive oil

Cook the rice in water with bouillon powder until tender. Pure’ roasted vegetables with some warm water in a blender. Chop the beet greens and fry them gently in a small amount of ghee until soft and season with salt. Finely chop the onion and, in a separate pan, fry in ghee until golden and tender. Add the rice and wine and let cook for a few minutes. Add mascarpone and let it melt in the rice. Add vegetable pure and mix well. Mix beet greens in and season with salt and pepper. Add a little grated parmesan cheese but not to overpower the taste of other ingredients. When serving garnish with olive oil.

Minestrone

minestroneI think the best winter warmer food is Minestrone. A simple traditional Italian soup with a selection of vegetables, beans and pasta is just the comfort you want after a cold day out, warming your cold bones. It is nourishing but still quite light, full of perfuming garden herbs that wake up the appetite and make the soup easy to digest. I shared it tonight with my friends and we just couldn’t stop humming with pleasure. There are many ways of making it. I prefer it without tomatoes, with clear broth and a nice sprinkle of parmesan cheese on top. Here’s my recipe:

3 tbsp olive oil

1 large onion

1 stalk of celery

2 carrots

3 big potatoes

1 can of beans (mixed, borlotti or cannellini)

1 cup of frozen peas

Handful of green beans

1 cup of small pasta

1 clove of garlic

1 stock cube

Pepper

Thyme

Sage

Parsley

Himalayan Rock Salt

Fry chopped onions and celery in olive oil, add all the rest of chopped vegetables, herbs and stock cube. Let boil until potatoes are soft. Add pasta, beans, crushed garlic, pepper and salt. Cook until pasta is al dente. Serve with a dash of olive oil and grated parmesan cheese.

Tip: if you know you’re cooking more than you’ll eat, you should cook the pasta separately. It will become soggy and lose being al dente if you leave it in the soup. If you freeze the soup only you can always cook some more pasta alongside with it.