Risotto makes a perfect base for using up odds and sods in your fridge. Keep a bag of risotto rice handy and all you need are a stock cube, the end of a block of cheese, butter and a stray onion for a basic risotto starter. Leftover cooked tomato risotto works really well in oven-baked arancini. Below is a basic tomato risotto recipe to get you started - with suggestions for other ingredients you can raid your fridge for and add to the basic mix.
2 pints of chicken or vegetable stock (from a cube is fine)
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 large onion
1 clove garlic
400g risotto rice
1 glass white wine or vermouth
salt and pepper
fridge-raider ingredients, eg. a handful of chopped tomatoes (or see below)
100g Parmesan, plus a little extra to serve
fresh herbs, eg. basil leaves, to garnish
extra-virgin olive oil, to serve
Takes 25 minutes
1. Boil the kettle to make your stock. You can now either keep it warm in a pan on the stove or just have it in a measuring jug next to the pan where you'll make the risotto. Add the oil to another pan and show the kids how to chop the onion. Add to the pan and crush in the garlic (kids find this easiest to do using a garlic crusher as you don't need to peel the garlic which can be tricky for little fingers). Cook over a gentle heat until the onion is soft (about 3 minutes).
2. Get the kids to tip in the rice and stir continually for a minute. Add the white wine or vermouth - don't worry about using alcohol in cooking for the kids, all the booze burns off leaving you with just a really nice flavour.
3. Once all the wine has evaporated, get the kids to begin to add the stock, a little ladleful at a time. Season the rice, too, with salt and pepper. They will now need to keep stirring the rice with a wooden spoon (either you or they should be holding the pan firmly with a pair of oven gloves or pan-holder on your hands). As they stir, the stock will begin to absorb into the grains; only add the next ladle of stock once the last one has been completely absorbed.
4. Keep stirring and adding stock once the last is absorbed - this will take about 15 minutes. Don't worry if little kids wander off - they are still learning how to make it by just watching a bit. Get them to come and try a grain of rice to see if it's cooked. Carry on adding the stock until it is soft. Once it is, add your fridge-raider's ingredients, such as a handful of chopped tomatoes. Stir through to heat and mingle the flavours.
5. Take off the heat and get the kids to add the butter and quickly grate over the Parmesan. Stir it with your wooden spoon then put a lid on the pan and leave it for 2 minutes. When you take the lid off, it'll be oozy and creamy. Tear up any fresh herbs you have (basil is nice with tomatoes) and scatter over the rice. Serve scattered with a little extra Parmesan and black pepper and drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil. Make arancini with any leftovers.
3 more fridge-raider risottos
* sauté a few handfuls of mushrooms with some snipped-up flat-leaf parsley and a crushed clove of garlic then add to the mix instead of the tomatoes *
* crisp up a rasher or two of bacon under the grill with a few chopped rosemary leaves. Add to the mix instead of the tomatoes, throw in half a can of drained cannellini beans and warm through *
* gently warm through some superfood pesto and add to the mix instead of the tomatoes. *