From Commonsense Vegetarian, Murdoch Books, 2011.
I often wonder who makes up the titles for cookery books. Is it the author or are they made up by the publishing staff in search of something that will sell. Some of the titles tell exactly what to expect while others tend to be on the amusing side: The Best Veggie Burgers on the Planet (difficult to prove), The Naked Chef (always fully dressed), The Conscious Cook (that’s better than the opposite), and, my most favourite of all, Mrs Harvey’s Sister-in-law and other tasty dishes.
One title that I always feel comfortable with is Commonsense Vegetarian; it fits the book perfectly. The recipes here have a commonsense feel to them. They are perfect for family meals. They are readily put together. And yet, with all of this down-to-earth feel about the dishes, they often have an element or two that lifts them from being ordinary.
The risoni dish is a case in point. It’s all very straightforward to make yet it has little touches that make it stand out.
Fennel was fried in olive oil and butter until it was caramelised. From then on it was a much quicker process. I put on a pot of water to bring to the boil for the risoni, and then added a can of artichokes (chopped) to the fennel. By the time the artichoke/fennel mix had cooked for about 5 minutes, the water was boiling so I added the risoni to it.
The vegetables now had cream, wine, mustard and parmesan added to them to cook for another few minutes, until the risoni was done. The risoni was drained and added to the vegetable mix with some chopped spinach. When the spinach had wilted the dish was done.
I did enjoy this. Risoni always appeals with its pearly grains that slip down the throat, and the sauce was full of flavour. I had not imagined using a fennel base rather than onion but it added a subtle hint of aniseed underneath the sauce.
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔✔