A sprout risotto? You’d better believe it. Brussels Sprout are such a controversial vegetable – you either love them or hate them. We grew up with overcooked and soggy sprouts that had the colour and natural sweetness leached out of them and left the kitchen with a cabbage-y sprouts aroma. So in our kitchen they are either eaten raw, roasted, fried, or sauteed with a little garlic.
Unusual pairings with sprouts include pomegranate seeds, pomegranate molasses or maple syrup. Salty, sweet and sour flavours are great – try lemon juice and lime juice, preserved lemon, capers, parmesan, chilli, almonds, barberries, pistachios, even tiny toasted croutons, all work very very well.
Today’s recipe uses Brussels Sprouts in a risotto. It is an unusual recipe but you will love it. It is an Ottolenghi recipe from Plenty More. It combines shredded sprouts and fried sprouts in the risotto with lemon, parmesan and the bite of Blue Cheese. How exciting! It is lemony, herby, cheesy, and of course, with the flavour of delicious sprouts.
In fact, it is Ottolenghi day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish all the latest posts of recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi books – currently we are cooking from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often slightly massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry.
Browse all of our Risotto recipes and Brussels Sprouts recipes. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Early Autumn dishes.
Brussels Sprout Risotto with Blue Cheese
30g unsalted butter
2 Tblspn olive oil
2 medium onions, peeled and finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 Tblspn picked thyme leaves
2 lemons, 1 shaved into long strips of zest and 1 finely grated
300g risotto rice
500g trimmed brussels sprouts, 200g shredded and 300g quartered
200ml dry white wine (see notes below the recipe)
900ml vegetable stock
sea salt and black pepper
About 400ml sunflower oil
40g parmesan, roughly grated
60g dolcelatte or other blue cheese, broken up into roughly 2cm chunks
10g tarragon, chopped
2 tspn lemon juice
Put the butter and olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat. When the oil is hot and the butter melted, add the onion and fry for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly caramelised. Add the garlic, thyme and lemon strips, and cook for two minutes more.
Add the rice and shredded sprouts, and cook for a minute, stirring frequently. Pour over the wine and let it simmer for a minute before you start adding the stock, a little salt (remember the cheese will be salty) and a good grind of pepper.
Reduce the heat to medium and carry on adding the stock ladle by ladle, stirring often, until the rice is cooked but still retains a bite, and all the stock is used up – about 15-20 minutes.
While the rice is cooking (and you are stirring frequently), pour the sunflower oil into a second large saucepan; it should come 2cm up the sides. Place on a high heat and, once very hot, use a slotted spoon to add a handful of the quartered sprouts, making sure they are completely dry first; they will still splutter, so be careful. Fry for less than a minute, until golden and crisp, then transfer to plate lined with kitchen paper. Keep warm while you fry the remaining sprouts.
Add the parmesan, blue cheese, tarragon and half the fried sprouts to the risotto and stir gently. Serve at once, spooning on the remaining sprouts and topping with the grated lemon zest and a dribble of lemon juice.
recipe notes and alternatives
We don’t drink much wine at our place, so I have come up with a couple of hacks that work for me. Dry Vermouth also works well in risottos, but we don’t often have that either. So I use a combination of verjuice, a touch of vinegar, and some mirin. The flavours need to be balanced. For example, Australian Verjuice is sweeter than Middle Eastern Verjuice, so I would add a little more vinegar. Rather than use white wine vinegar which is quite tart, I will use another from the pantry – today it was Palm Vinegar. You can also use Rice Vinegar. The important thing is to tasted the mix and adjust to your tastes. You are looking for something tart with grape flavours (from the verjuice) but not vinegary.
Mix just a few sour grapes through at the end, for little pops of sour that really compliment the sprouts. Sour Grapes can be found in Middle Eastern or Afghan groceries.
In making this recipe, I did fry the sprouts while the rice was cooking, as Ottolenghi suggests. However, playing with hot oil while stirring risotto is not the best combination of activities, and I found the risotto suffered a little without constant stirring. I recommend either making them beforehand, or cooking the rice for 14 or 15 mins, taking it off the heat and covering with a lid while frying the sprouts. Pop the risotto back on the heat with a little more stock, mix and check the rice – if still a little chalky and not yet al dente, cook for 2 minutes longer, then complete the recipe.