Saturday, January 19, 2013

Cooking for one made easy with Nigellissima

Super easy, super quick and tasty cheat's risotto takes the pain out of cooking for one

Cooking for one made easy with Nigellissima

Welcome to 2013! It's winter again in Switzerland - my favourite time of year, food-wise. But I have had a burst of summer - I spent the last couple of weeks in warmer climes, spending a week in Hong Kong, before heading home to Perth, for the first time in nearly 18 months, just before Christmas. I spent two weeks at home, catching up with family and friends and remembering just how hot Perth gets - it was 41C on Christmas Day.

Having left an empty house in Perth all this time, the Emperor and I decided it was time to clean it out and rent it out. But two weeks isn't enough time to deal with ten years' worth of accumulated possessions, so leaving Emperor D behind to sort the rest of the house out, and with work back in Switzerland calling, I headed back a week into the new year. Where I've been, ever since, arriving home, often late at night, to a dark and empty apartment and having to cook for myself.

Eighteen months ago I discovered my distaste for having to cook for one. That was during summer; I confess it doesn't get much better in winter. At least I can make soup during winter, which is easy enough to freeze for another night. And pasta is easy to make in quantities for one. But I never thought I'd say this - since it's my favourite food group - but during the week, I got heartily sick of pasta. To the point where I put fish fingers and chips in the oven for dinner one night. Oh dear. Confessions of a food blogger.

Nevertheless, this recipe is a pasta dish that's masquerading as a risotto. But it's super quick. And super easy. And no problem to make for one. It's Nigella Lawson's pasta risotto with peas and pancetta from her latest, the Italian-inspired Nigellissima.

I've always enjoyed watching Nigella on TV, but never really cooked her food because it always seemed, well, rather trashy. I paid a little more attention to this series though as it does fall somewhat under my favourite cuisine, Italian. While she does include some trashy recipes - like this meatzza (seriously) - she does have some gems like the pasta risotto.

The pasta risotto is basically a pea and pancetta risotto, but substitutes annoying, you-have-to-stir-it-all-the-time arborio or carnaroli rice for risoni, a tiny, rice-shaped pasta that doesn't require stirring and cooks in just 10 minutes. Much quicker than the 25 minutes or longer that ordinary risotto takes. Adding a small knob of butter and some grated parmasean at the end - as you would normal risotto - gives this dish it's risotto-like creamy consistency. It tastes good, too - the salty pancetta offsets the sweet baby peas. Best of all, it takes about 15 minutes to make from go to whoa, and can be made in small quantities - including for someone eating da solo.

I still don't like cooking for one - and will be heartily glad when Emperor D returns in a few days' time - but Nigella's risotto-that-isn't does make it a little less painful.