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grilled aubergine, leek and mushroom risotto

serves four

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one aubergine

three leeks
handful of mushrooms
one red onion
250g risotto or paella rice
3 tablespoons of philly
vegetable stock
cherry tomatoes to garnish

now i should probably begin by explaining how this particular dish came about and the unusual choice of ingredients! it was basically a bit of a "bung it" and it made me feel a little like i was on ready, steady, cook! when you have to make a dish out of odds and ends. i even chopped everything up nicely, see? which is all part of the fun of course!

so hopefully that explains the paella rice you can see as well as the lack of garlic in a risotto (dun, dun dunnn). oh and it also made it nice and veggie too!

so i began, as all great recipes do, with caramelising the onions in the pan on a low heat. when cooking with aubergine the first thing i do is slice them up and leave them to rest with a bit of salt. i'm not really a fan of adding salt to food (always black pepper for me!) but i learnt that it takes away the bitterness you sometimes get.

in a separate griddle pan, or grill if you prefer, begin grilling the aubergines. so now you should have the onions cooking nicely and aubergines beginning to soften. the aubergines will take around 10-15 mins so just keep turning.

next add in the rice - lightly toasting at first and then very soon after adding in a splash of stock as and when. as i mentioned before, i created this when using up food in my cupboard. and i just so happened to have paella rice instead of risotto. so hands up that this isn't strictly a risotto! however - the difference between the grains is that risotto rice is creamier which is why paella rice suits having a more tomato based, spicey accompaniments. so cue philly cheese - i used this to create the creamier texture and flavour i desired. low in fat too  :)

keep adding in the stock when the rice seems like it may stick. you then add in the chopped leeks, then mushrooms and lastly the aubergines, chopped up. you could leave one slice for the top like i did too :) you then put in the philly cheese. you don't have to use it of course and totally up to you if you want to use more or less. when cooking with philly i pretty much always put it in last or at least near the end as it can go gloopy and separate under heat.

my tip for any risotto is whatever vegetables or meat you use... just think of how you want them all to come together in the end and how each component might need to be cooked. so if you're cooking with meat, perhaps start that first or in a seperate pan. think about how if you want to use bacon you might want to grill it and slice it up. or perhaps if you use veg, for example frozen peas, how these might cook or defrost in the stock like they would if you were simply boiling them. i really so find that risotto or paella works out different pretty much every time - you just need to really mother it and keep adding stock or changing the heat when needed really. you'll be making all sorts of combinations of perfect risotto in no time!

if you like this you also might like my parma ham and mozzarella risotto recipe. over and out! x


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