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Basil, Parmesan and Saffron Risotto

Risotto is thought to have been created in 1574 by a young apprentice called Valerius. After being teased about his stained glass windows being colored by saffron, he then smuggled plenty in to the National dish. It was an instant hit and risotto came into our lives!

parmesan , basil and saffron risotto

How To Make Saffron, Basil And Parmesan Risotto

This is our take on that now Classic risotto dish. Our top tip for this one is to look at ways to substitute the saffron. It can be a pricey ingredient for many reasons, so we will give you some affordable options. This recipe serves 4.

Ingredients For Saffron Risotto;

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Medium onion finely chopped
  • 2 pints (5 cups) of simmering stock – Chicken is to be preferred but making a vegetarian risotto with vegetable stock is suitable too.
  • pinch of saffron threads (or any substitutes from here)
  • 275g (1 1/2 cups) arborio rice
  • 75g (1 cup) of freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 ball of buffalo mozzarella diced
  • 75g (1 cup) of green beans
  • 12-14 fresh basil leaves

How To Make Parmesan Risotto

  1. Gently fry the onion in the oils. Sweat it for around 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile take a ladle full of the steaming stock and add the saffron to it.
  3. Once the onion is lightly browned add the rice and stir through the oil and onion mix. Allow to fry off for a few minutes until the rice turns translucent.
  4. Add the saffron infused stock and allow it be absorbed fully.
  5. Slowly add the stock, one ladle full at a time. Keep the stock warmed in a pan as this is the key to a good risotto. Allow the risotto rice to absorb each ladle of stock before adding the next.
  6. Add the green beans and shredded basil after the risotto rice has absorbed about half of the stock.
  7. Once the risotto has absorbed the stock fully add around two thirds of the parmesan and the diced mozzarella. Stir through and leave in the pan with the heat off for a few minutes to allow it to melt, without cooking.
  8. Serve in a warm dish with a few fresh basil leaves and the remaining parmesan sprinkled on top.

Top Tips For Perfect Risotto

  • Use hot stock. Not boiling but simmering. If you introduce cold stock to a risotto it will take longer to incorporate and really struggle.
  • Replace saffron with turmeric. This is by far a much more affordable option as saffron is such an expensive ingredient. For this recipe use 1 teaspoon of turmeric to serve four.
  • Stirring your risotto allows the rice to bump together and release starch. This makes for a more creamy dish, which we want. So keep stirring or sort of shuffling the pan. This is to save your wrist as it will take about 20 minutes to cook and constant stirring is hard work.
  • Only add the hot stock once the risotto rice has absorbed all of the previous ladle. You are not boiling rice, but slowly steaming it allow it to release its starchy goodness.
  • To avoid the cheese being grainy and kind of just lumps with fat, only add towards the very end of cooking. No matter if it is parmesan or mozzarella.
  • You can add ready cooked vegetables to your risotto, but wait until the end. Otherwise you will have soggy vegetables in your dish.
  • By using coconut oil you are allowing for a slightly nuttier flavor to your risotto. This is great for a gentle flavored dish like this saffron one.
  • Yes cook risotto on a low heat but do not have a pan that overhangs your hob rings. This will give cold spots and mean that it heats unevenly. So a large pan is good, but not the widest pan you own over the smallest ring on the oven.
parmesan, saffron and basil risotto
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Many thanks and enjoy your risotto!

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