Meat Free Monday – winter, week 01

Well, it certainly feels like winter here – snow on the ground, pretty as a picture but treacherous underfoot! I have a wee foot injury which I have to rest this week (fell over the laundry basket!) and so I had to use store cupboard ingredients to make this week’s Meat Free Monday meals. I know the thought of a whole week with one’s feet up is very appealing but I love to walk and it really is lovely out there ………

So, what’s in my cupboard/fridge/freezer on a Monday morning in December? Sadly, nothing that I need for the menu in the book! Yes, I know, I could’ve bought what I needed at the weekend but I like to get my veg fresh.

For lunch I made carrot and lentil soup.

What you need:

1 onion, chopped
2 sticks celery, chopped
450g approx of carrots, chopped
250g red lentils, washed
oil
salt and pepper
vegetable stock, about a litre, maybe a little more

Sweat the onion and celery in a little oil until soft then add the carrot and cook for a few minutes. Add the stock and the lentils, bring to the boil and then simmer until the lentils are soft and carrots are cooked. Purée and adjust the thickness and seasoning. Needless to say, on a cold, snowy day, it just hit the spot.

For dinner I decided to have pea risotto. I always have peas in the freezer! I love risotto but I’ve had to change the way I make it to accommodate my need for less fat in my diet. I use no butter. What can I say? I apologise unreservedly to any Italians who may be reading this! 🙂

From the cupboard/fridge/freezer dig out the following:

for 1

75g risotto rice (I use carnaroli)
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
peas – however many you fancy – defrosted
pot of vegetable stock, simmering
a little oil
small glass white wine
Parmesan (or vegetarian equivalent)
a lemon
salt and pepper

Firstly, make sure you have your pot of vegetable stock simmering, ready to use, otherwise the risotto will have to get back to up to temperature every time you add a ladleful of stock.

Sauté the shallot gently in a little olive oil and then add the carnaroli rice, getting all the grains of rice nicely coated in oil. Add the white wine and cook on medium heat until it has almost gone then begin adding the vegetable stock. Keep adding the stock in ladlefuls (making sure each one has been absorbed before adding the next) until the risotto is almost ready (probably about five minutes to go) at which point you should add the peas. When it’s ready, roughly 18-20 minutes from adding the rice to the pan, (the rice should still have a little bite) add some Parmesan and check the seasoning. Put on the lid and leave for a couple of minutes. I like to squeeze some fresh lemon juice over my risotto and I also had a bit of parsley left in the fridge which I sprinkled over. If what you love is a really rich, butter-laden risotto, this will probably not be for you, but it is really light and excellent for anyone watching their fat intake. Me.

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