Leek and broccoli risotto

I signed up to a “British vegetable box”, and what that translates into these days is: a lot of leeks, carrots and potatoes.

It’s a fun challenge to come up with new recipes (new to me, I suppose!) to use them in different ways.

So after I made a leek and potato soup (a Devvers classic), I devised a leek, carrot and potato fritatta, and then… a leek and broccoli risotto for Sunday lunch, because Sundays should be for rice dishes!

Ingredients (for four people)

  • 2 medium leeks
  • a bunch of broccoli spears
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 280g round rice (bomba, arborio, paella, etc)
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • butter: to taste
  • Parmesan cheese: as much as you can handle 😏

You’ll also need:

  • a big shallow pan
  • a lid for the pan
  • optional: a risotto spoon (for maximum stirring action!)
    • alternatively: a wooden spoon, to gently stir without scratching your pan

Preparation

Wash and slice the leeks.

Add oil, a pinch of salt and a decent knob of butter to the pan and bring it to a medium heat. Then add the sliced leeks, and let them cook until soft, stirring frequently…

Leeks sliced and frying in a pan
Leeks sliced and frying in a pan

In the meantime, peel and thinly chop three garlic cloves, and add them to the pan.

To prepare the broccoli spears, chop the harder end bits from the stalks, then wash them.

“Decompose” the broccoli spears into leaves, florets and the stalks. That way you can cook the harder parts for longer, and avoid the leaves or the florets becoming mushy if they’re cooked for too long.

Broccoli spears divided into leaves, spears and stalks, on a cutting mat
Broccoli spears divided into leaves, florets and stalks, on a cutting mat

Once the leeks are soft, add the stalks. Cook for a few minutes, then add the spears, cook for another few minutes.

Vegetables frying on a pan: leeks and broccoli spears. There's a risotto wooden spoon on the corner.
Vegetables frying on a pan: leeks and broccoli spears

Then add the leaves.

Vegetables frying on a pan: leeks and broccoli spears and leaves
Vegetables frying on a pan: leeks and broccoli spears and leaves

In the meantime bring at least 500 ml of water (or stock if you have/want it) to a boil.

When everything is soft, it’s time to add the rice. Stir it into the mix, and then add a splash of water, and slowly stir.

A pan with risotto rice and vegetables, right after adding the rice
Right after adding the rice

The secret to making a nice creamy risotto is to add water slowly, almost spoonful by spoonful, and stirring almost continuously so that all grains get equal opportunity to absorb moisture while releasing starch. But at the same time, be very careful to avoid smashing the grains. Gentle does it… although you’ll notice it gets more viscous and opposes more resistance as it absorbs more water and releases more starch.

Round rice can absorb a lot of water, at least 2 times its weight, but since we’re not using a lid and stirring constantly, we will lose a lot of water to evaporation, which means that we will probably use more than 2 x 280 ml i.e. 460 ml. That’s why I suggest bringing at least 500ml of water to the boil 😉

So, keep adding those splashes of water, keep stirring, and also keep an eye on the rice. You want it to be just about cooked; it has to still keep its shape. Don’t allow it to explode!

When they start looking like they might be cooked, I start trying grains at regular intervals. This is also a good time to adjust for salt; if it needs more, I add a pinch of salt and keep stirring, and try for salt the next time I try a grain (be careful to not oversalt though—as the Parmesan also has some salt).

In summary, this is a dish to be made with time and care… and perhaps with some aperitivo on the side (Devvers made me a G&T 🍸)

Once the rice is cooked, it’s time to add the grated Parmesan (as much as you would like to have—we really did not measure it 😂). Mix it into the rice, allowing it to coat everything and spread its deliciousness.

Optional: add a little extra knob of butter if it seems dry or you think it is needed (who am I to judge you?). You can also add some black pepper if you’d like the taste.

Pan with risotto and a lot of parmesan cheese, before melting it in
With this much of parmesan cheese, before melting it in

Turn the heat off, put a lid on the pan, and sit and relax for five to ten minutes before serving. This allows the rice to settle down and the flavours to combine better.

Leek and broccoli risotto
Leek and broccoli risotto

The rice keeps well in a box for a couple of days; you can use a deep pot (with lid) on a medium heat to reheat the rice, perhaps adding a splash of water (because the rice might have absorbed all the remaining liquid while it’s in the box) and a splash of olive oil (to avoid the rice burning on the bottom of the pot).

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