Vegetable gardening is becoming a bit competitive I think between me and my mum. She is a brilliant gardener (she’s the original), living the good life long before it was fashionable. But when all us children flew the nest she and my dad down-sized and so she only has a small garden now.
Despite this she squeezes in a fair amount of produce (growing some things in the conservatory that looks at bit more like a greenhouse a times). And so every phone conversation starts ‘how’s the garden going?’ I’ll tell her about my successes and she replies with hers. Goes a bit like this:
Me: “I’ve been picking lots of runner beans already.”
Mum: “Oh that’s good, I haven’t had any yet. Had plenty of potatoes though.”
Me: “Yeh, me to!”
And on it goes. Anyway she told me her friend Ann also reads Food4two and likes to see how the garden is going, which is why I’ve done the photo of the vegetables (hope you are impressed Ann!). These are a few of the things I pulled out of the garden in the last few days – plus I boiled some beetroot today for salads and I’m drowning under runner beans. I’d love to hear people’s recipes for runner beans. Here I’ve done a light, summery risotto.
This recipe resembles the Italian ‘risotto primavera’, which is bursting with vegetables, but primavera means spring so I have called mine summer garden risotto. It is the same recipe as one I posted a few months back for courgette risotto with lemon and basil. But I’ve added runner beans, broad beans and a little bit of chopped mint, which was delicious in it. As you’ll see the instructions are pretty open to interpretation, this turns out different every time I do it and I like that.
Summer garden risotto
Half a white onion, finely chopped
Two cloves of garlic, finely chopped
One small yellow courgette and one small green courgette, sliced
Handful of runner beans, stringed and chopped into bitesized pieces
Two handfuls of broad beans (out of their pods), blanched and their jackets removed
200g arborio rice (or other risotto rice)
1 litre of chicken stock, hot
Zest of half a lemon
Handful of grated parmesan cheese
Some basil leaves and just a few mint leave (5-7 leaves max), lightly chopped
1.Make a basic risotto base by frying the onion and garlic slowly in some oil and butter until soft. Add the rice, stir round the pan, then gradually add the hot stock, stirring all the time to encourage the starch to break down and go creamy.
2. When you have used ¾ of the stock fry the courgettes in bit of oil until brown on the outside but still crisp within. Add the runner beans to a pan of boiling water, cook for five minutes then drain.
3.Add all the vegetables to the risotto. Once the last of the stock has been absorbed, eat a bit and see if it is done. Add the lemon zest, parmesan and chopped herbs, plus some pepper and taste again, you might want to add more lemon or parmesan. Serve.