Best recipe: Risotto with sausage and borlotti beans

risotto sausage and borlotti beans

Risotto is a recipe I learnt to cook before I knew my husband, Matthew. It’s one of the few recipes that I can cook better than he can.

As we had no bones for the stock, we decided to make a vegetable stock consisting of half a stalk of celery (plus leaves), half an onion, several parsley stalks, a bay leaf and a few peppercorns. I boiled the lot for half an hour.

As it is difficult to find sausages with no spices (because I am intolerant to chilli and paprika) I decided to use pork mince and a pinch of fennel seeds.

This risotto recipes has excellent flavours, even though I hardly followed the recipe instructions.

Rose Gray says the following about the recipe:

I’ve always been a fan of Marcella Hazen. She’s an evocative food writer who is also very good on detail and precision and understands the importance of texture. This is a warming, wintry dish for people who love eating. I first came across it on a wine trip to Verona about 10 years ago. At that time you could only buy dried borlotti beans in the Uk; it’s only recently that fresh ones have arrived in our markets. They have a beautiful creamy consistency; they take on all the flavours of the fennelly sausage.

Risotto with sausage and borlotti beans
Adapted from Risotto with sausage and cranberry (borlotti) beans – Marcella Hazan, Marcella Cucina

200g tin of borlotti beans
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsps butter
1/2 onion, finely diced
1/2 cup of pork mince
1/2 tsp of fennel seeds
4 cups of vegetable stock
1/2 cup of arborio rice
1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbs chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley (optional)
salt and pepper

  1. Heat the vegetable stock in a saucepan and maintain on a low simmer.
  2. Add the olive oil to a second saucepan and gently cook the onion until translucent. Add the pork mince and brown. Add the fennel seeds and stir in.
  3. Add the butter and when melted add the rice and reduce the heat to low. Coat all grains of rice with the butter.
  4. Add some vegetable stock to just cover the rice and increase the heat to medium.
  5. Mash the beans in a bowl and then add to the risotto.
  6. Cook, stirring, until all the liquid has been absorbed.
  7. Gradually add more stock waiting until each new batch has been absorbed. Keep stirring so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot!
  8. When rice is ready stir in the Parmesan cheese and parsley (if using). Season with salt and pepper.
  9. Serve after 25 minutes, or when the rice is al dente.

Serves 2.

Zucchini risotto

I often cook a risotto for a weekend lunch. This one’s a simple green flecked risotto to warm you up in winter.

20g butter
1 cup of arborio rice
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1 zucchini (courgette), grated
handful of fresh herbs (parsley and basil), chopped roughly
sprinkle of dried oregano
1 ½ cups of vegetable stock

  1. Heat the vegetable stock in a saucepan and maintain on a low simmer.
  2. Melt some butter in a second saucepan and gently cook the onion until translucent. Add the garlic.
  3. Add the rice and reduce the heat to low. Coat all grains of rice with the butter.
  4. Add some vegetable stock to just cover the rice and increase the heat to medium.
  5. Add the grated zucchini, herbs and stir in.
  6. Cook, stirring, until all the liquid has been absorbed.
  7. Gradually add more stock waiting until each new batch has been absorbed. Keep stirring so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot!
  8. Serve after 25 minutes, or when the rice is al dente.

Serves 2.

Variation: Swap the zucchini for one diced red capsicum and one grated carrot.

Spinach risotto

Actually this could be more accurately called a spinach and roasted vegetable risotto. It was a winner for both of us, so no doubt we’ll be having it again soon. Big M calls it ‘a choice vegetarian dish’. He’s been watching Jamie in his mismatched stripy beanies.

spinach, one bag or small tin
20g butter
1 cup of arborio rice
1 red onion, chopped
1 courgette
1 capsicum
1 ½ cups of vegetable stock

  1. Cook the spinach in some boiling water for 1 minute. Drain and finely chop. Set aside.
  2. Heat griddle until very hot. Sprinkle some olive oil on one side of the capsicum and the courgette. Place in pan oil side down. Turn over the courgette after 5 minutes. Turn the capsicum over after 10 minutes. Set aside.
  3. Heat the vegetable stock in a saucepan and maintain on a low simmer.
  4. Melt some butter in a second saucepan and gently cook the onion until translucent.
  5. Add the rice and reduce the heat to low. Coat all grains of rice with the butter.
  6. Add some vegetable stock to just cover the rice and increase the heat to medium.
  7. Cook, stirring, until all the liquid has been absorbed.
  8. Gradually add more stock waiting until each new batch has been absorbed. Keep stirring so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot!
  9. After 25 minutes, or when the rice is al dente, mix in the courgette and capsicum. Then add the spinach.
  10. Stir for 2 minutes and serve.

Serve with Quick Roasted Tomatoes. (optional)

Written for Joelen’s Culinary Adventures – Foodie Films: Big Night – Italian!