Watercress and Mushroom Risotto With Hazlenut Pesto

watercress risotto

The name Rissotto comes from “rissot”, the old Milanese word for “hotchpotch” and it sums up this recipe perfectly. My risottos are often based on whichever suitable ingredients are readily to hand which this week happened to include a punnet of mushrooms and a bag of watercress. The combination worked really well and it was a good tasting risotto.

Where it became a truly happy hotch potch was with the last minute addition of some home made pesto. While chopping the watercress, I had the idea of keeping some back to make a cold sauce to accompany the risotto. I also decided to try using hazelnuts, instead of the usual pine nuts, as well as garlic and parmesan. The pesto exceeded my expectations and added lots of extra flavour, colour and moisture to the rice. So it was worth the extra effort though it is not essential if you are pressed for time.

Cooking notes

This risotto is easy to make as long as you are careful not to overcook the rice. For best results always use Italian rice, such as Arborio, as its absorbent texture soaks up the cooking liquid and softens as it cooks.

The quality of the stock makes all the difference to the overall flavour of the dish so use home made stock if you can.

RECIPE

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 375 g risotto rice
  • 70 g watercress (finely chopped)
  • 300g of chestnut mushrooms (cleaned and sliced)
  • 1 medium onion (diced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2-3 tbspns olive oil
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • salt and pepper

Method

  1. Heat oil in a large heavy based pan and fry onion until they become translucent and start softening. Add garlic and fry for another minute or so.
  2. Add mushrooms and thyme and continue frying over a moderate heat.
  3. Add the rice and stir for about a minute to coat thoroughly. Add a ladleful of hot stock and stir, cooking over a moderate heat until absorbed.
  4. Add nutmeg and continue adding ladlefuls of stock as required and continue cooking for about 15 minutes.
  5. Add watercress and any remaining stock and cook for a further five minutes or until rice is al dente. Season.
  6. Add a helping of pesto to the rice just before serving.
mushroom and water cress risotto

Click Here For Hazlenut Pesto

watercress and hazlenut pesto

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