Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Fresher, Brighter and Lighter: Risotto and Smoothies

All this sunshine is rousing the earth and lightening the step. I'm becoming impatient for full-blown summer: I want to eat freshly podded peas, wickedly bitter rocket and cheery tomatoes - outdoors, with a cold glass of wine. Eating with the seasons feels natural: right now I'm yearning for light dishes and fruit smoothies, while in winter it's perfectly instinctive to tuck into a big bowl of mashed celeriac. Just one of the reasons I love our vegetable box.

Last Friday our box brought the last of the pears with Spanish oranges (they do sneak in a few imports now and again) and mangoes. Smoothies are so brilliant, I don't know why we don't make them every day. It's utterly rewarding to drink a glass packed full of fruit and nothing else.


2 oranges
1 large, ripe mango
1 eating pear
Ice cubes

Lazily peel the pear and mango, and chop both roughly. (No need to labour over it.) In an empty blender jug, juice the oranges, getting every last bit of juice out. Plop in the chopped fruit, then whiz until smooth (if too thick, add a little apple juice or the juice from another orange, if you have one). Add a couple of ice-cubes and whiz briefly to break them up a little. Drink in the sunshine!


Primavera, "first green" in Italian, is the name used to describe a whole rainbow of spring pasta and rice dishes. Think of it as a celebration of spring; Primavera always contains plenty of fresh vegetables, like asparagus, wild garlic, fresh peas, broad beans, artichokes and other lovely new greens. Ideally made in May with baby asparagus spears, it should always be abundantly green with a good splash of white wine: fresh, light, and a delicious way to celebrate the season. I use Delia's oven-bake method for this risotto.


1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 courgette, roughly chopped
1 handful peas
1tsp butter
200ml carnaroli rice
200ml white wine
400ml vegetable stock
2tbsp finely grated parmesan
1 large handful wild garlic, washed and shredded

Set the oven to 150 deg C.

Saute the onion in the butter until translucent, then add the courgette and continue to soften for about 5-10 minutes. Add the peas halfway through. Now stir in the rice and mix thoroughly, heating it so it glistens. Add the wine and stock, bring to a simmer, then put the whole lot into a warmed oven dish and slide into the oven.

After about 15-20 minutes (when the rice will be almost cooked), remove from the oven and stir in the sliced wild garlic and the parmesan. Return to the oven for another 5-10 minutes, checking, then serve with crusty bread and mixed salad leaves.

If you make a note of the cooking times for this in your particular oven, it will be even less demanding next time.