Creamy courgette & carrot risotto

There are not too many things more comforting than a melt-in-the-mouth risotto. We were inspired to try a new recipe having tried an insanely good lobster orange risotto at Outlaw's in London.

Ours features carrot and courgette, topped with buttery courgette bits, smoked salmon, grated beetroot and lemon zest to give it some vibrancy.

Ingredients

(Serves 4)

Knob of butter 50g plus a knob more

Red onion 1, small, finely chopped

Shallots 3-4, finely chopped (optional)

Garlic 2-3 cloves, crushed

Spring onion 1, finely chopped (optional)

Courgette 1, two thirds coarsely grated, one third diced into small bits

Carrot 1, coarsely grated

Risotto rice, 200g

Vegetable stock, 1.2 litres, kept hot on low heat

Lemon 1, zest & juice

Parmesan 25-50g

Mascarpone 2 heaped tbsp

Smoked salmon 50-75g (optional)

Olive oil splash

Mixed seeds 1 heaped tbsp (optional)

Beetroot 1 steamed/cooked, grated (optional)

How to cook

Melt the butter in a frying pan, add the onion, shallots & garlic, gently fry until softened. Stir in the grated courgette, grated carrot and rice, increase the heat and sizzle while stirring for 2 mins.

Add the lemon juice and a ladle of hot vegetable stock, and bubble over a medium-high heat while stirring constantly. When the liquid has just about been absorbed, add another ladleful of stock. Carry on like this for 25 mins until the rice is just tender and creamy. Stir in the parmesan, mascarpone and a good crack of pepper, cover with a lid and set aside for 5 mins while you cook the remaining courgette bits.

Heat the remaining butter and a splash of oil in a small frying pan. Add the diced courgettes, and fry over a high heat for 2-3 mins until gloriously golden. Divide the risotto between shallow bowls, then scatter with the diced courgettes and buttery juices, mixed seeds (we used a toasted mix - pumpkin, brown linseed, sunflower), a good pinch of lemon zest, shards of smoked salmon and dot with some grated cooked beetroot for electric colour. 

For a simpler risotto, this dish works without the spring onion, shallots, beetroot and mixed seeds. If you like a less creamy risotto, swap the mascarpone for more cheese. For a vegetarian option, forget the smoked salmon.