Lemon and Eggplant Risotto
My brother, Philip, and his wife visited London briefly last September where their best meal was at Ottolenghi Notting Hill. They arrived moments before closing time, chose their colorful dishes at the deli, and ate at the family style table in the sleek white dining room they had all to themselves. Kathy said she knew instantly that I would want to own the cookbooks and gave me two for Christmas this year.
This is my first attempt at making a recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi’s “Plenty.” I chose this recipe because I had never had an eggplant risotto before and was curious about the combination. Well after making it, all I can say is WOW, what a perfect combination. This risotto is amazingly delicious and easy to make, and the addition of lemon gives it a vibrant burst of flavor. I have absolutely fallen in love with Chef Ottolenghi and his lemon eggplant risotto. If I’m ever in London, I’ll will definitely visit one of his four restaurants. I can’t wait to work my way through my two new Ottolenghi cookbooks.
Makes 4 servings
- 2 medium eggplants
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 7 ounces good quality risotto rice
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 3-1/4 cups hot vegetable stock
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1-1/2 to 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 to 2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded basil leaves
- Coarse sea salt and black pepper to taste
Step 1: Roast one of the eggplants in the oven. Pierce the eggplant with a sharp knife in a few places. Put it on a foil-lined tray and place directly under a hot broiler for 1 hour, turning a few times. The eggplant should deflate completely and its skin should burn and break.
Step 2: Once the eggplant is ready, remove it from the heat and make a long cut through it. Scoop out the soft flesh while avoiding the skin. Discard the skin. Chop the flesh roughly and set aside.
Step 3: Cut the other eggplant into a 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 or paper-line plate and sprinkle with salt. Leave to cool.
Step 4: Put the onion and remaining oil in a heavy pan and fry slowly until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 3 minutes.
Step 5: Turn up the heat and add the rice, stirring to coat it in the oil. Fry for 2-3 minutes.
Step 6: Add the wine 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.
Step 7: When all the stock has been added remove the pan from the heat. Add half of the lemon zest, the lemon juice, roasted eggplant, butter, most of the parmesan and 3/4 teaspoon salt.
Step 8: Stir well, then cover and set aside for 5 minutes. Taste and add more salt, if needed, plus some black pepper.
Step 9: To serve, spoon the risotto into shallow bowls and sprinkle with the diced fried eggplant, the remaining parmesan, the basil, and the rest of the lemon zest.