Saturday, September 24, 2011

Weekend foodie: Warming sweet potato risotto with a salsa verde dressing

I love risottos. Once you have mastered the basic method, the possibilities for variation and using whatever you have in the kitchen are endless. These days I tend to use brown rice or mixed grain rice which have slow release carbohydrates for long-lasting energy, but you can of course use the classic risotto rices such as arborio, carnaroli or vialone nano.

This version, with sweet potato, is autumn comfort food at its best and the addition of the salsa verde style dressing ensures it’s anything but bland. You could substitute the sweet potato for pumpkin and/or (as shown in the picture), add half a cup of frozen peas towards the end of stage 5.


1 tbs olive oil
½ large onion, finely diced
tsp dried oregano or rosemary
1 cup mixed grain rice
2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
2 litres of hot vegetable stock

Salsa verde dressing:
small handful of mixed fresh herbs (such as parsley, sage or basil), chopped finely
2 tbs good quality extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
½ tsp agave nectar or honey

1.  On a medium heat, heat the oil in a high-sided wide saucepan, add the onions and oregano and slowly cook for around 7 minutes or until the onions are soft. Be careful not to brown the onions, you just want them to soften (this is what the Italians call “soffrito”).
2.  Add the rice, stir well and cook for a further 2 minutes, stirring all the while and then add the sweet potato, continuing to stir for another minute or two.
3.  Add in enough stock to cover the sweet potato, turn up the heat a little and, stirring regularly, cook until the liquid starts to be absorbed.
4.  Keep adding ladeful by ladeful of the stock, so that the sweet potato is covered by the liquid, until you feel that the sweet potato is soft. Then continue adding ladefuls of stock (the sweet potato no longer needs to be covered by the liquid) and stirring every now and then until the rice is cooked (this will take around 20 minutes, depending on your rice – pure brown rice may take 35 minutes)
5.  Meanwhile, combine the salsa verde ingredients in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
6.  Once the rice and sweet potato are cooked and the water absorbed (you may need more or less than the 2 litres, depending on how quickly your rice cooks), take off the heat, drizzle a little olive oil over the risotto, put the lid on the saucepan and leave for 1-2 minutes.
7.  Serve with the salsa verde dressing drizzled over the risotto.

Serves 2 hungry people or 4 as a starter.


  1. Sounds completely delicious Lia! It is the standing over the risotto stirring constantly which always puts me off making them - somehow there is no grace when I have to disappear from the kitchen to break up a fight/help one of the kids/change a nappy/do all or any of those things which inevitably crop up right when my attention needs to be on what's cooking! But this post reminds me that there are occasions when I get to cook for just hubby and me, so I shall store this up for such a day and be inspired to branch out once the distractions are in bed :)

  2. Very true, but as for the stirring, in the words of Nigella "although everyone goes on about the finicketiness and crucial fine tuning involved, I find risotto immensely comforting to make: in times of strain, mindless repetitive activity - in this case 20 minutes of stirring - can really help".
    I used to often make risotto after a long day at work, all that stirring just helped wind me down somehow!