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Roasted red pepper and goat’s cheese risotto

Gah! This week has been pretty hectic, so apologies for my short absence. At various points throughout the week, I’ve found myself on my hands and knees with my arm wedged under the floorboards, standing on a stack of big speakers to paint the ceiling while white paint dripped into my hair, and standing in the middle of a room full of five year olds playing dress-up. TGIF.

If you hadn’t guessed, we’ve been decorating our house this week. We did one room last year, and took a break over Christmas, but now we’re back on it again. Pretty much every room needs repainting – the walls all had bare plaster after being damp-proofed last year. Sooo, as soon as one room is finished, another needs to be started. There are pieces of furniture in our house that have been chased from room to room to room each time we’ve started decorating a new one. As you can imagine, the whole place is a bit of a tip. Since we’ve finished painting another room this week, this weekend’s task is to attempt to get it looking like a normal house again. Blahhhhh.

Anyway. The perfect thing to end a long, stressful week: comfort fooood. What could be better than a creamy risotto made with sweet roasted peppers, topped with tangy goat’s cheese? (as it turns out, not much)

If you wanted to, you could stir all the goat’s cheese through the risotto before serving. However just like in the caramelised carrot and coriander risotto that I posted before Christmas, I found that the cheese made more of an impression if added after serving – that way, rather than disappearing into the rice, it melts into little gooey pockets all the way through.

(I actually just made myself drool typing that).

I know a lot of people get put off by risotto’s tiresome reputation, but (as I’m sure I’ve told you before), you can totally cheat and it’ll still work fine. Instead of having a pan of hot stock on the hob the whole time, I crumble a vegetable stock cube straight into my rice when I add the first quantity of stock, and then I just keep the kettle next to me to add more water as I go along. No hassle whatsoever.

(PS – don’t tell anyone, but sometimes I don’t even stir very much.)

Roasted red pepper and goat’s cheese risotto

Serves 3

2 red peppers
1tbsp olive oil
10g butter
1/2 onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2tsp sugar
250g arborio rice
~1l vegetable stock (or 1 vegetable stock cube + 1l water)
Black pepper
50g cheddar cheese, grated
2tbsp fresh basil, chopped
75g soft goat’s cheese, roughly crumbled

Heat the oven to 230°C (Gas Mark 8 / 450°F). Place the whole red peppers on a baking tray, and roast for around 20 minutes, until the skins are charred. Remove from the oven, and transfer to a plate. Cover with cling film – the steam that is trapped inside will make the skins easy to remove. Set aside for now.

While the peppers are roasting, prepare your onions and garlic. Heat the oil and butter in a large wok or risotto pan. Add the onion, garlic and sugar, and cook over a medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes, until the onions are soft and just beginning to caramelise. Stir regularly.

Add the rice, and stir to coat with the butter and oil. Still over a medium-low heat, begin to add the stock 100-150ml at a time, only adding more when the previous amount has been mostly absorbed by the rice. Stir regularly, and keep adding more stock until the rice is cooked, around 30 minutes (I ended up using about 950ml of stock in total).

While the rice is cooking, return to your roasted peppers. Peel off the skins, and cut into several pieces, being careful to remove the stalk and seeds from inside. Place the pepper flesh in a mug or a deep bowl, and use an immersion blender to blend the peppers into a chunky purée.

When the rice is cooked, add the cheddar cheese, chopped basil, the red pepper purée and plenty of black pepper. Mix well. Serve topped with the goat’s cheese.

Mediterranean-style white bean pâté with sun-dried tomatoes and olives
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