Vegetarian glory! (photo by Ben)

Serves 4

  • 750ml veg stock
  • Large knob butter
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 250g risotto rice
  • 200ml tomato sauce
  • 1 ball buffalo mozzarella
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil to serve

I didn’t expect it to happen so quickly, to be honest. You know, the sense that I didn’t need meat to make a meal.

When I began my veggie challenge at the start of the year, I though it might take a while, at least until Andy Murray exited this year’s Wimbledon at the semi-final stage, before I felt at ease with missing meat. But, after Saturday’s delicious risotto, I can safely say I’m very much au fait with it already.

In the past, I would have chucked some chorizo or ham in right at the death, almost as a way to justify the meal, like a badge of approval. But the rich tomato flavour (I just used some old Dolmio hanging around, though Hugh suggests roasted tomato sauce) and substantial texture was meant I didn’t bat an eyelid as forkful after forkful disappeared down my welcoming gullet.

Risottos are notoriously time-consuming to make, something that had always put me off in the past, but the simplicity of this one meant it didn’t take long to fashion at all. It’s just a case of heating the butter in a saucepan, sweating the onion and adding the rice for a few minutes. Then gradually add the already hot stock, stirring all the while.

About 25 minutes later, your rice should be cooked, meaning you can remove from the heat and add your cheese and seasoning before stirring (I used cheddar). A drizzle of oil to finish and some peppery rocket do the trick as far as accompaniments go.

A stringy, comforting dish then, perfect as we transition from winter into spring, and a symbol too of my changing mentality to vegetarian food. Who knows how far I will have come in six weeks time.


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