Sorrel risotto and baked apples
This one-pot dish is an easy way to make the most of an under-used herb. The trick to a good is risotto is continuous stirring so the mixture doesn’t stick, and adding the stock a little at a time until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid. Substituting a red onion for a white one gives this dish a wonderful colourfulness, as the fresh green of the sorrel is off-set by the purple of the risotto base and scattered tiny lemon peel curls. For a creamier risotto, use butter instead of olive oil, add a glass of dry white wine, and finish by stirring through some crumbled goats cheese. This recipe makes 4 generous portions.
- 2 tbsp of olive oil or 30g of butter
- 1 litre of vegetable stock
- 1 lmedium onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 stick of celery , trimmed and chopped
- 2 – 3 large handfuls of sorrel (around 100g)
- 1/2 small red chilli, chopped
- 300 g risotto rice
- Zest and juice of half a lemon
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 small glass of dry white wine
- 1/2 goat’s cheese log, crumbled
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Heat the olive oil or melt the butter in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan on a medium heat on top of the oven. Add the chopped onion, stir, then the garlic, chopped chilli and celery. Allow to soften in the pan for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add the risotto rice to the pan, stir to ensure it’s coated in the butter or oil, too. Continue to cook on a medium heat, then add a ladleful of stock, and continue to stir the mixture whilst it cooks, making sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan.
- Once most of the liquid has been absorbed by the rice, add another ladleful or two to the pan, and continue the stirring process. Continue cooking the risotto base in this way until most of the stock has been added, and the risotto mixture is starting to soften. This should take 15-20 minutes
- If you are using white wine, add now, then add the sorrel, lemon juice, lemon zest and seasoning to the pan. Stir, and add the last of the stock.
- Continue to cook and stir for 5 minutes, or until most of the stock has been absorbed, but the risotto mixture is still a little wet. Finally, crumble in the goats cheese (if using), stir through once more, then dish up and serve immediately.
Little apples, stuffed full with glistening sticky spiced dates, sultanas and nuts can be eaten hot or cold, as a snack or dessert and evoke, to me, the very essence of autumn. This is a good way to use up a glut of apples that have started to go soft and if you’re left with any extra dried fruit mixture after stuffing the apples, it will keep in the fridge for a week, so can used to rustle up another batch of baked apples later in the week. Cook these on the middle shelf of the oven whilst you’ve already got in on for something else to save on energy.
The ingredients given below are per apple, so multiply the quantities up to suit your own requirements. Use a buttered baking dish that comfortably contains all the apples without too much extra room to cook them in.
- Small to medium eating apples, washed, but unpeeled, allowing at least 1 per person
- 1 date per apple, chopped
- 8 sultanas, raisins or any other small dried fruit (such as currants, candid peel or chopped cherries)
- A sprinkling of cinnamon
- Enough honey to make the dried fruit mixture into a sticky paste
- A few flaked almonds or orange zest (optional)
- Combine the dried fruit mixture in a dish with the nuts and orange zest (if using), cinnamon and honey, then combine the mixture into a sticky paste
- Core each apple using either an apple corer or a vegetable peeler pressed into the flesh of the apple and twisted to cut around the core and remove.
- Place all the cored apples in the baking dish and stuff the core of each one full of the dried fruit mixture using a teaspoon. This is fun, but can be a bit messy, making it a great way to involve children in the cooking process.
- Place the dish of apples on the centre shelf of a pre-heated oven (between 150 and 180oC) and cook for 20-25 minutes. The apples should have softened but still retain their shape.
- Serve hot, with custard, cream, ice cream or creme fraiche, or eat cold as a snack