Summer time risotto – with balcony grown broad beans

DSC_0395_2Back in april, when it was still way too cold outside, I planted a broad bean in a bit of soil and put it in my window sill to grow. The seed, that was given to me at a food festival, was taped to a little piece of paper that stated that this single bean would one day become a big plant if only it was planted…

With some proper TLC from my side, the broad bean delivered on its promise and within a week or so grew into a tiny plant. I have grown many different plants from seeds, but this was definitely the most spectacular growing process I ever witnessed. When I transferred the small plant into a bigger pot and put it on my balcony, it grew taller and taller until it was an impressive 1.5 meters high and began to form beautiful flowers. The yellowish/black flowers were not only pretty but also proved to be a big hit with the neighborhood bees! When the flowers eventually turned into fat velvety pods, the time had finally come to start thinking of a recipe that would do them justice.


The first thing that came to my mind was to make a light vegetarian summer risotto. Although the word light should probably not be used in the same sentence as risotto, I do think I am allowed this time. My recipe does not call for butter, and because this is usually a mandatory part of any risotto recipe, I believe this recipe can pass as light. Do not worry, there is still enough cheese in it to make it nice and creamy. I feel confident enough to promise you that you will not even miss the butter!

Although my plant produced a decent amount of broad beans, it was unfortunately not enough for a full pot of risotto. That is why I also bought some nice fresh peas. I actually like this because the sweet pies help balancing out the slight bitterness of the broad beans.

When you use fresh broad beans for this dish, I would advice you to double pod them so you can see their lovely bright green color. If the term ‘double podding’ is new to you, or you do not yet know how to do it, the step by step tutorial below will break it down for you.

I think the meatiness of the dried tomatoes gives the risotto a nice bit of extra flavor and texture, but I have to warn you that they are very strong in flavor. If you do not like this you can easily leave them out or replace the dried tomatoes for something else.

Summer time risotto recipe: Cooking time 20 minutes.

Serves 2/3 people as a main course or 4 people as a starter.

  • 2 table spoons of olive oil
  • 700 ml vegetable/chicken stock
  • A glass of white wine/sherry
  • 2 small shallots/onion finely chopped
  • 200 gram risotto rice (Arborio)
  • 200 gram fresh broad beans/peas or a mix of the two (frozen is also an option)
  • 40 gram (small hand full) dried tomatoes sliced into thin strips
  • 125 gram asparagus tips
  • 100 gram fresh soft goatscheese
  • 100 gram grated parmezan cheese

Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan and soften the chopped shallots for one minute. Now add the rice and keep stirring for 3 more minutes until the rice becomes translucent. Make sure that the heat is not on too high and the onion and the rice do not brown.

To get risotto rice perfectly ‘al dente’ it needs to boil for approximately 16 minutes. After the rice has become translucent you can start by first adding the wine and then a ladle of stock to the rice and let it cook, gently stirring from the center to the side. Turn up the heat a little if necessary. Continue adding the stock, ladle by ladle, while stirring, allowing the rice to cook and the stock to be absorbed each time. After about 6 minutes add the dried tomatoes so they get some time to absorb the stock and to become a bit softer. Meanwhile just keep stirring and adding stock. After 5 more minutes add the broad beans and peas and keep stirring for the last 5 minutes.

In order to prevent the fragile asparagus tips from breaking while stirring,  you can blanche/cook them separately and add them at the last minute. If you are using regular chopped up green asparagus you can add them at the same time as the broad beans/peas.

When the risotto is ‘al dente’, which means that there is still a slight crunchiness in the middle of the rice, you can take the risotto of the heat. Always make sure that you taste the risotto first. Cooking is no exact science and it can happen that it needs a minute or two more. If this is the case do not panic and just add a little bit more stock and keep stirring.

Now add the asparagus tips, the goats cheese and the parmesan cheese and stir for 1-2 more minutes until the risotto becomes nice and creamy and is ready to serve.

Serve the risotto immediately and enjoy!


Rhubarb pie – Let’s celebrate summer!

DSC_0388You might have noticed that it is rhubarb time again. The last few weeks I came across the long reddish stalks of the rhubarb plant at nearly every market, vegetable store and even at most grocery stores.

Noticing them is one thing, but what should you do with them?

Strictly speaking, rhubarb is a vegetable and not a fruit, but nevertheless it is mostly used in desserts and pies. Rhubarb is at its best from late spring to early summer, so right about now would be the best time to cook with it. The easiest way to cook rhubarb is to boil the pieces of rhubarb together with a lot of sugar in a little bit of water until the stalks have separated into threads. Once the mixture has cooled you can add a couple spoons to some ice-cream or yoghurt. This easy cooking method is both delicious and quick, but also a bit too boring for a blogpost in my opinion. What else can we cook using rhubarb?

Did you know that John Cleese (Monty Python) once dedicated a whole song to the rhubarb pie called: “who wants another slice of the rhubarb tart?”

Although I would not go as far as Mr. Cleese in claiming that “eternal happiness is rhubarb tart”, I do think it comes pretty close. This rhubarb pie is one of my favorite pies because it reminds me of warm summer days in my parents garden. The beautiful balance between the tartness of the rhubarb and the sweetness of the custard makes this the perfect summer pie. All the credits for this pie must go to my mother since this is her recipe.

SHOPPING TIP: When you buy rhubarb, just make sure the stalks are nice and firm. If the stalks are bendy that means the stalks have already lost a lot of their water which makes them chewy.

This recipe is for a 30cm Ø pie
Start by preheating your oven to 190 degrees Celsius.

For the pastry:

300 grams all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons of ginger powder
2 table spoons of sugar
125 grams of butter
3 tablespoons cold water

Put all the ingredients in your food processor until everything is mixed together. With your hands form a ball of the dough, wrap into some cling foil and put in the refrigerator for at least 1/2 hour. Then roll out the dough thinly with a roling pin, or by using the ball of your hand. Cover the pie- crust with baking paper and (ceramic) baking beans.










Blind bake the pie- crust for 10 min and take out of the oven to cool.
Cut the rhubarb into small pieces and lay them into the pie crust.
Now you can start making the filling.

For the filling:

350-400 grams rhubarb (cut into small pieces)
2 small eggs (1 1/2 large)
225 grams of sugar
The zest of 1 organic orange
2 tablespoons of flour
1.5 dl of freshly squeezed orange juice
1.5 dl milk

In your food processor mix together the eggs, sugar, orange zest and two table spoons of flour.
Put the orange juice and the milk in a pan and bring to the boil. When the liquid is boiling add to the mixture in the food processor and mix it one more time. Gently pour the mixture over the rhubarb. Put in the oven for 30 min.
Let the pie cool before you remove it from its pan to prevent the crust from cracking.

Serve like this or with some (yoghurt) ice-cream and may the summer last forever!