Chestnut Risotto with flaked almonds


adore a creamy, rich risotto on a cold evening. I’ll admit, with no sign of any greens, its not a nutritionally packed or balanced dinner in the slightest but it was a warm hug in a bowl we need right now on chilly weekday evenings when we’re house bound. It really did hit the spot and provided a festive hangover of creamy chestnut and garlic.

Whilst I’m no vegan, I would certainly urge any vegan missing their cream or cheese to try chestnuts as a replacement for that texture. They make a great hummus and are devine in desserts with caramel.

Chestnuts add a really natural creaminess to this one so you can use less cheese if you like but I always add a good handful or two of grated parmesan. Its subtle in flavour so don’t be tempted to overpower the topping too much.

Serves 4

  • 200g risotto/Arborio rice
  • 1 small white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 stick celery, finely chopped
  • Sprig rosemary, leaves picked and finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 25g butter + 1 large knob
  • 200g chestnut puree – make your own by blending chestnuts or use this one from Merchant Gourmet
  • 1 small glass Marsala wine (or brandy/white wine)
  • 1 stock cube (made up to 500ml or so of hot stock)
  • 50g approx, grated Parmesan cheese
  • Flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • Flaked almonds, lightly toasted
  • Garnish – crunchy breadcrumbs/croutons – optional but adds a much needed crunch.
  1. Heat the knob of butter and a tbsp of oil in a large saucepan on a medium heat. Once melted, add the chopped onion and celery and gently sweat for about 8-10 minutes until soft and translucent. Add the rosemary and stir with some seasoning.
  2. Get your hot stock in a saucepan nearby on a low but constant heat.
  3. Crush in the garlic and cook for a further few minutes
  4. Add the rice and turn up the heat to medium high. You are aiming to toast the rice and cover it in the fat. After about a minute the grains should start to change colour. Add the alcohol of choice which will bubble away quickly.
  5. Add a ladleful of hot stock and stir. Bring the heat to a gentle simmer and simmer gently, adding more stock from the pan as it begins to be absorbed for about 18 minutes – time this and as you near 18 minutes keep tasting the rice. It should be just cooked but with a slight bite and most of your stock used. The mixture should be ‘sloppy’ for want of a better word.
  6. Once you feel the rice is ready, add the chestnut puree and stir well to incorporate, it will thicken so add a splash of stock to thin if needed.
  7. Seaosn with plenty of black pepper.
  8. Remove from the heat. Add the grated cheese and the butter and put a lid on. Leave for 2 minutes. Stir well to mix in the melted cheese and butter and add all but a handful of parsley.
  9. Serve in warm shallow bowls topped with the remaining parsley, roasted almonds and crunchy breadcrumbs/crouton!