Back to Basics: Rice (2)

Apart from being just a side to curry or stir fry, risotto is a great, versatile use of rice. With a basic starting point, you can add anything you want to it to make a great dish. Note that you can’t freeze any meat that has already been defrosted from frozen and really risottos taste much better when cooked fresh.

To start, fry some onions (and peppers if using them) in a frying pan. Season with salt and pepper. When they are soft, add the rice to soak up whatever liquid is there. Turn the heat down low and then add a splash of stock before adding the rest of around 200ml of it (vegetable or chicken depending on what other ingredients you are using – to make this amount of stock, you only need to use between a third and half of a stock cube). After that, just keep it moving and add more stock if needed to keep it moist until the rice is cooked.

Paella Basis

Making a risotto like this takes about 25-30 minutes, depending on what else you put in it. So, some ideas for what you can put in risotto:

  • Tomato and Chorizo: Add some chorizo (I use one small cooking sausage per portion) to the onions at the start then continue as above using vegetable stock. After about 10 minutes, add a handful of frozen peas. Then when the rice is almost cooked add between 1/4 – 1/2 can of chopped tomatoes and heat for a further 3-4 minutes. Average cost: 95p


  • Paella: With the onions at the start, add some chopped red peppers then continue using chicken stock. Add a pinch of saffron (I know this is expensive, and most students likely wont have it just laying around, but if you don’t have any you can add a small amount of turmeric) and, if you aren’t already using one, switch to a metal spoon to stir as wooden spoons absorb the flavour – clearly not ideal when using such an expensive ingredient. When the rice has absorbed some of the water add chunks of chicken, covering them with the stock. 10 minutes later when the chicken is white all over, add a handful of frozen peas. When the rice is almost cooked, add a handful of (de-frosted or fresh) prawns and serve once the prawns are done – they generally take about 5 minutes. Average cost: £1.65 (if using saffron)

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  • Fish and Egg: Use a mixture of celery and onions to start then continue with vegetable stock. Meanwhile, poach a piece of smoked haddock (these can be brought in frozen packs) or some other white fish (which is what I usually use whilst at uni because it is cheaper) in water for about 12 minutes. Add the frozen peas to the rice and place the fish on a piece of kitchen roll. Poach an egg in clean water and while you are waiting for that flake the fish with a fork (this literally means pull it apart into small pieces).  Just before the egg is done, add the flaked fish to the rice to reheat it. Serve by placing the poached egg on top of the risotto. Average cost: 90p (if using plain white fish fillets)

As you can see, single portions of risotto are really quite cheap! They don’t take too long to cook and can be adapted to whatever you have in fridge. I hope this has given you some ideas for what you could cook next. Have a great day!