Lemon and aubergine risotto

Smoky aubergine and the strong freshness of lemon and basil are used here to offset the stodgy tendency of some risottos

Serves 4
2 medium aubergines
130ml coconut oil
Salt and black pepper
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
200g cauliflower rice
750ml hot vegetable stock (preferably homemade)
1 lemon, zest grated
2 tbsp lemon juice
50g parmesan, grated
10g basil leaves, shredded

1 Start by burning one of the aubergines on a gas hob/fire. Line the area around the hob head/fire with foil, and put the aubergine directly on to a moderate flame and roast for 12-15 minutes, turning frequently with metal tongs until the flesh is soft and smoky and the skin is burnt all over. Keep an eye on them the whole time so they don’t catch fire. The aubergine needs to deflate completely and the skin should burn and break.

2 Remove from the heat and make a long cut through the aubergine. Scoop out the soft flesh while avoiding the skin. Discard the skin, roughly chop the flesh then set aside.

3 Cut the other aubergine into 1.5cm dice. Heat 80ml of the coconut oil in a frying pan and fry the aubergine dice in batches until golden and crisp. Transfer to a colander and sprinkle with salt. Leave to cool.

4 Make your cauliflower rice first. After it is made put the onion and rest of the oil in a heavy-based pan and fry slowly until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 3 more minutes. Turn up the heat and add the cauliflower rice, stirring to coat it in the oil. Fry for 2-3 minutes.

5 Now start adding the hot stock to the cauliflower rice, a ladle at a time, waiting until each addition has been fully absorbed before adding the next, stirring all the time. When all the stock has been added, remove the pan from the heat. Add half the lemon zest, the lemon juice, chopped aubergine flesh, most of the parmesan and salt. Stir well, then cover and leave aside for 5 minutes. Taste and add more salt if you like, plus some black pepper.

5 To serve, spoon the risotto into shallow bowls and sprinkle with the diced aubergine, the remaining parmesan, the basil and the rest of the lemon zest.

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