Lemon risotto with rocket and rocket flowers
Serves 6 I love this with or before a fish course, or with salads on a warm evening. I have included rocket flowers (if you grow rocket, the white flowers with fine dark veins that appear when the plant ‘bolts’), but violas and marigold petals can also be used – or no flowers at all.
— 2 tbsp butter, plus extra
to finish the cooking — 1 onion, finely chopped — 180g risotto rice
(carnaroli or arborio) — 100ml white wine — 1.5 litres chicken or vegetable stock, simmering in a pan — 120g Grana Padano, Parmesan or pecorino cheese, freshly grated — zest and juice of 2 lemons — 4 handfuls of wild rocket
and flowers, if available
Melt the butter in a large shallow pan and add the onion. Cook gently over a medium-low heat until soft, but not coloured. Add the rice and sauté it gently for two minutes, stirring. Add the wine and let it bubble. It will be absorbed into the rice.
Keeping the temperature of the pan medium-low, add two ladlefuls of the simmering stock to the pan. Let it bubble and become absorbed, then add more stock. Continue like this until the rice swells and slowly cooks while more and more stock is absorbed.
After about 20-25 minutes bite into a grain of rice or cut it – if it is still raw in the centre, continue adding stock and cooking. When the raw centre is just a speck of opaque white, add a little stock – so the risotto has a soupy consistency – then add half the cheese, another tablespoonful of butter and the lemon zest and juice.
Turn off the heat – the lemon does not benefit by further cooking and needs to taste really fresh. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then scatter over the rocket and flowers, if using, then serve with the remaining cheese on the side.