Leeks and grains are a great combination, but I thought I would funk this quinoa risotto up with Romesco Sauce rather than pairing leeks with blue cheese as I usually do! Result: a dairy free, vegan risotto which is a little bit different, but is easy to throw together and makes a delicious work day lunch or a comforting evening meal.
The Romesco Sauce is a synch to make and looks great if you use a combination of red, orange and yellow peppers for a bright, eye-catching dish. My tip for roasting garlic is to horizontally slice a whole bulb of garlic in half; half a bulb may sound a lot but remember that roast garlic is sweeter and much less pungent than raw. Rub off any excess papery peel and then roast as usual. Once it is cooked – and cooled – squeeze the cloves out of the skin. Easy!
Ingredients (serves 4)
Oil for roasting/extra for blending
Half a bulb of garlic
½-1 tsp smoked paprika
2/3 large/medium onions
500 ml water plus 1 tsp of good quality vegetable bouillon powder dissolved – optional
Juice of ½-1 lemon
Preheat oven 200 fan/220 conventional
- Warm up the oil in a large baking tray whilst you slice the peppers into large chunks. Roast them for around 45 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, add the halved garlic bulb, the almonds and smoked paprika. Stir everything up and leave to cook for the remainder of the time. Once the peppers are tender and the garlic is soft enough to squeeze out of its papery husk, remove from the oven and leave to one side to cool a little.
- Meanwhile, get the quinoa risotto going. Dice the onions and fry in a smear of oil until translucent. Slice and add the leeks after a few minutes.
- Rinse the quinoa under the tap in a sieve to get rid of any bitter coating and add to the pan of frying vegetables. Stir well and ‘dry fry’ the grains for a few minutes; add the lemon juice, black pepper and a pinch of salt if you are not using vegetable bouillon powder.
- Pour in the water (with the dissolved vegetable bouillon powder if using) and let the quinoa simmer for about 10-15 minutes until cooked. You may need to add a little more water if it starts catching on the bottom of the pan.
- To finish off the Romesco Sauce, first squeeze the roasted garlic out of its peel. Blitz it up in a food processor/blender with the peppers, almonds, pinch of salt and extra oil or water, if necessary, to produce a smooth paste. You may want to add a tad more smoked paprika.
- When the risotto is cooked and all the water has evaporated, check for seasoning and stir in the Romesco Sauce or dollop on top.