Baked margherita risotto (v)


    1 Echalion shallot

    1 garlic clove

    20g fresh basil

    175g Arborio rice

    1 Vegetable stock pot

    1 punnet cherry tomatoes

    ½ a Lemon

    1 tbsp honey

    ½ a cucumber

    1 ball of Mozzarella

    45g Netherend unsalted butter

    Baby watercress

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Main serves 2

Risotto is so delicious, but the prospect of all that stirring can sometimes be a bit daunting. Chef Mimi to the rescue! She's simplified the process and created this recipe that can be baked in the oven. All the creamy, luxurious texture with none of the elbow work. If that wasn't enough, it also boasts the crowd-pleasing flavours of a Margherita pizza!

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Preheat your oven to 200C/390F and pop your kettle on to boil. Halve, peel and chop the shallot into ½cm pieces. Peel and grate the garlic (or use a garlic press). Pick the basil leaves from their stalks. Set the leaves aside and finely chop the stalks.


Heat a drizzle of oil in a large ovenproof pan over medium-high heat and add the shallot. TIP: If you don't have an ovenproof pan, just cook in a normal saucepan then transfer to an ovenproof dish before the risotto goes in the oven. Stir and cook until softened, 5 mins. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more, then add the rice and basil stalks. Stir and cook until the edges of the rice are slightly translucent, 1-2 mins.


Measure out 400ml of boiling water and add the vegetable stock pot. Stir to dissolve the stock and pour into your rice pan. Add the cherry tomatoes, bring back to the boil, then cover with a lid (or some tightly fitting foil). Pop on the top shelf of your oven and bake until the rice is cooked and the stock absorbed, 20-25 mins.


While the risotto is cooking, halve the lemon and squeeze the juice into a large bowl. Add the honey and olive oil (amount specified in the ingredient list) and whisk together with a fork. Quarter the cucumber lengthways, then chop into 2cm chunks. Roughly tear the basil leaves.


When the risotto is cooked, carefully remove it from your oven and switch your grill to high heat. Take the lid off your pan and stir in the butter and three-quarters of the basil leaves. Taste and season with salt and black pepper if you feel it needs it. Cut the mozzarella into ½cm wide slices and pat dry with some kitchen paper. Lay the mozzarella slices on top, then grill until the cheese is bubbling and golden, 4-5 mins.


Add the cucumber, watercress and remaining basil to your bowl of salad dressing and toss to coat. Serve the risotto in bowls with the salad alongside. Enjoy!

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