A few moths back, when I fell into conversation with my friends from Italy about the possibility of making sweet risotto, I mentioned two dishes that I cook regularly at home: peach risotto (an amazing recipe from Jamie Oliver) and strawberry and mint risotto (a not less successful recipe I managed to find in one Russian cookbook). For me it’s difficult to say which of the two creamy, fruity and chocolaty dishes I love more: they are both outstanding and irresistibly good. Since that conversation, however, I was anxiously waiting for the strawberry season to start: I was salivating each time the thought of indulging into this treat crossed my mind! And as soon as these juice berries appeared on the shelves of the grocery stores in December, I could eventually include this dish into our home menu.
What I love most about this risotto is that it makes a perfect breakfast: a bowl of rice with succulent berries and nourishing nuts gives you the energy for the whole day, and the rich and velvety chocolate boosts the mood. And, of course, I like to play with the presentation of the dish and to come up with something new each time. Believe me, this dish will look impressive anyway: whether you simply spoon the rice into a plate and garnish with chopped pistachios and grated chocolate or whether you make it more sophisticated by using moulds, templates and piping bags. There are a lot of different elements that contribute to the colour profile of the dish making it spectacular. Tell me, can you think of a better start of a day?
Recipe adapted from the original one from the book “Gastronome: Rice and Cereals”
1 Granny Smith apple
300 ml water
200 ml apple juice
100 gm Arborio rice
? bunch of mint leaves
1 tbsp butter
30 ml white wine
1 tbsp castor sugar
1 tsp vanilla sugar
100 gm strawberries
15 gm pistachios
15 gm dark chocolate
1. Cut the apple into quarters, put it into the pan with water and a few springs of mint, bring to a boil, remove from heat and let it stand, covered, for at least 10 minutes. Discard the apple and the mint, add the juice to the pan and bring the whole mixture to a slow simmer.
2. Reserve a few mint leaves for garnish and pick the leaves from the remaining springs. Heat butter in a pan and saute half of the mint leaves. Add rice and cook for a few minutes till it is translucent. Deglaze with the wine, let it reduce to a syrupy consistency. Start adding the hot apple juice mixture, one ladleful at a time (do not add a new portion until the previous one is almost completely absorbed). After 15 minutes start tasting the rice. As soon as it is almost al dente, add castor and vanilla sugar, together with the last portion of the apple juice.
3. Reserve a few strawberries for garnish and chop the remaining ones. As soon as the rice is al dente, stir in the chopped strawberries together with the remaining mint leaves and remove the pan from heat. Cover and let it stand for one minute.
4. To serve, spoon the risotto into the plates. Sprinkle with pistachios and chocolate and garnish with the reserved berries and mint springs.
1. You can use more strawberries for the dish: blend them with some castor sugar, then push the puree through a fine sieve and serve it as a sauce for the risotto.
2. Instead of grating chocolate on top of the rice you can make a simple chocolate sauce or ganache and serve it on the side.