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Mushroom & Pea Risotto

Rice is a very versatile thing and makes a good base for both summer and winter meals. Risotto takes a little bit of effort during the cooking, but it’s nothing too excessive for the soft n’ creamy end result. You can easily vary the ingredients to change the experience quite dramatically. This particular version is quite ‘meaty’ without being too heavy, with a lovely fresh piquancy from the other bits and bobs.

Serves two people with good appetites.

  • 15ml olive oil
  • 15ml vegan margarine
  • 200g arborio (risotto) rice
  • 1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced lengthways
  • 1 stick celery, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 25g dried mushrooms (porcini are ideal), rehydrated, or 200g fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 150g petit pois or garden peas
  • 5ml fennel seeds
  • Black pepper
  • 5ml finely chopped fresh thyme (lemon thyme is particularly good)
  • 125ml white wine
  • Juice of half a small lemon
  • 500ml stock (water and a stock cube is fine, mushroom soaking water and a stock cube is better)
  • A few strips of lemon zest
  • 3-4 basil leaves, shredded

Put the stock and lemon zest in a small pan with a lid and keep over the lowest possible heat you can – enough to just keep it simmering very gently.

Gently heat the oil and marg in a deep frying pan. Fry the onion, celery and garlic for a few minutes until beginning to soften. Add the fennel seeds and fry for a minute or so. Add the mushrooms and fry for a couple of minutes more. Add the rice and a good grind of black pepper, and gently stir for a few minutes until it becomes translucent. You may need to add an extra dribble of oil during this stage if things start to stick. Stir in the white wine and keep stirring for a minute or two until the wine has been absorbed and evaporated.

Add the lemon juice and a ladle-full of the stock and stir into the rice and veg. You can either continue to gently stir as the stock is absorbed, or you can just stir it every minute or two if you’re lazy. The heat should be just high enough to keep everything gently simmering. Keep doing this until all the stock is used up and the rice is soft and creamy (it’ll take around 40 minutes from the first ladle). Add the thyme about halfway through cooking and stir in. You may need to add another ladle or two of water if the stock runs out before the rice is cooked.

Start cooking the peas 5-10 minutes before the rice is ready (petit pois take about 4-5 mins to steam). Drain and stir into the rice mixture when it’s ready to serve.

Dish up and sprinkle on the basil, add a good salad with balsamic vinegar and oil dressing (1 part balsamic vinegar, 4 parts olive oil, salt and pepper, also herbs and/or garlic if the mood takes), pour a glass of whatever white you used for the recipe, and try to eat it in the garden with the warm summer evening sun on your face.

Oh, and happy May Day to proles everywhere. Keep it real.

3 comments to Mushroom & Pea Risotto

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