It always amuses me when my students see me outside of school and just look so shocked and amazed – that moment when they realise I actually exist beyond the classroom. But then, I’ve been guilty of a similar reaction myself lately. Every time I see my Bodycombat instructor in the lift going up to the gym I do a little double take and think “Oooh, that’s Akai! But I can’t see her abs!” Her incredible six pack is permanently on display in class, and rightly so – I just assumed she went about all her daily life similarly attired. Lord knows I would (or, indeed, will – she insists that putting 100% effort into her classes is all it takes to achieve such perfection. I believe her, as I’m eating my well-earned “I survived the class” slab of cake).
Anyway, my point is that seeing something familiar in unfamiliar territory (or clothes) can be a delightful little surprise. So it is with artichokes. I was accustomed to seeing them in the supermarket looking rather fierce and perplexing, then lo, there they were one day in a little jar, soft and easily accessible, and ready to be turned into this delicious dish. The vegetables combine perfectly, there’s just the right amount of colour and bite to the risotto, making it a really lovely meal.
Serves 4, from BBC GoodFood
1 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, sliced into thin wedges
2 red peppers, cut into small chunks
2 tbsp rosemary needles
140g arborio rice
150ml white wine
850ml vegetable stock
400g tin artichoke hearts, drained and halved
2 tbsp grated vegetarian parmesan
2 tbsp toasted pine nuts
1. Heat the oil in a large pan and cook the onions gently for 6 minutes.
2. Add the peppers and rosemary and cook for 5 more minutes.
3. Add the rice and stir well for a minute.
4. Pour in the wine and let it bubble and reduce for a minute.
5. Add the stock a ladleful at a time, stirring occasionally until all the liquid is absorbed then adding the next ladleful.
6. Add the artichoke hearts with the last ladleful and simmer until the rice is tender.
7. Season, stir in the parmesan and most of the pine nuts.
8. Serve with the remaining pine nuts sprinkled on top.