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After a temporary halt in proceedings, the greedy house and kitchen is back in action! Now if I’m not mistaken, despite being housebound for much of the past week, I have spotted the odd ray of sunshine peeking through the clouds. It tends to make everyone feel much happier (it’s amazing what a good dose of vitamin D can do for the spirits) and it also means that spring is well on the way. When the weather improves, we always look to adapt our diet accordingly, and last night Dan cooked up a damn tasty risotto which is perfect for the changing seasons. It’s fabulous to be able to start cooking dinner in daylight as well (this should hopefully aid my food photography development too – watch this space!)

Although the dish is traditionally good comfort food, this one is very ‘green’ and on the lighter side, as the main components are ham, pesto and pea. We are big fans of pesto over here (every variety) and I must admit, my kids love nothing more than a big bowl of pasta and pesto, with a ridiculous amount of grated cheddar cheese sprinkled on top! They do get it on occasion, but there are lots of other interesting (and easy) things to make with it, and this is one of them.

For this meal you will need (serves two):
– 120g of ham (requires lardons – we used Speck as we had some leftover in the freezer)
– One onion (chopped)
– Two cloves of garlic (chopped)
– 250g of arborio rice
– 1 litre of chicken stock
– 150g of frozen peas
– Two tablespoons of green pesto
– 25g of mature cheddar cheese
– Salt and black pepper

Method:
– Fry the onion, garlic and ham in a little oil for ten minutes (being careful not to colour the onions).
– Add the rice and stir for two minutes.
– Proceed with a standard risotto method – adding the stock a ladle at a time, making sure each one is fully absorbed before adding the next one, stirring continuously.
– Add the peas five minutes from the end and when cooked, add the pesto and cheese.
– Turn the heat off, put the lid on the pan and let it sit for two minutes.
– Season to taste and serve.

I cannot praise this recipe enough. The pesto really enriches the rice and it’s packed full of flavour. It would be perfect for an alfresco lunch or an evening meal. The key is to make sure you get some sizeable chunks of ham in there, and some nice plump peas that burst with sweetness, marrying perfectly with the saltiness of the meat. A great way to use up leftovers and also a very tasty plate.

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