A favorite risotto – bright, delicate, graceful. This eggplant & lemon risotto is perfect on these late summer evenings. It’s comforting yet light and surprising. Inspired by the recipe in Ottolenghi’s Plenty. Use good quality vegetable stock with a flavor you enjoy, homemade if possible.
eggplant & lemon risotto
2 medium eggplants
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoon olive oil
course sea salt
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
7 ounces risotto rice
1/2 cup white wine
3 1/4 cups hot vegetable stock (homemade if possible)
grated zest of 1-2 lemons
2-3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons butter (or good quality cultured vegan butter)
2 ounces grated parmesan (or sub for vegan cheese)
1/2 cup shredded basil leaves
Start by burning one of the eggplants over the gas stove or broiled in the oven, turning several times to cook evenly on all sides. Remove from the heat and make a long cut through the eggplant. Scoop out the soft flesh while avoiding the skin. Discard the skin. Chop the flesh roughly and set aside.
Cut the other eggplant into 1/2-inch dice. Heat up 1/3 cup of the olive oil in a frying pan and fry the eggplant dice in batches until golden and crisp. Transfer to a colander and sprinkle with salt. Leave to cool.
Put the onion and remaining oil in a heavy pan and fry slowly until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for a further 3 minutes. Turn up the heat and add the rice, stirring to coat it in the oil. Fry to 2-3 minutes. Add the wine (it should hiss) and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until nearly evaporated. Turn the heat down to medium.
Now start adding the hot stock to the rice, a ladleful at a time, waiting until each addition has been fully absorbed before adding the next and stirring all the time. When all the stock has been added, remove the pan from the head. Add half the lemon zest, the lemon juice, grilled eggplant, butter, most of the parmesan and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Stir well, then cover and set aside for 5 minutes. Taste and add more salt, if you like, plus some black pepper.
To serve, spoon the risotto into shallow bowls and sprinkle with the diced eggplant, the remaining parmesan, the basil, and the rest of the lemon zest.