No babysitting this risotto! Just put it together and pop it in the oven for an hour. Serve with a sharply dressed salad or sautéed greens. Hearty, comforting and using delicious summer vegetables.
Preheat the oven to 180C fan/200C/400F.
Slick a little oil on each eggplant slice (or use a spray oil) and place on baking trays. Bake in the oven until golden and softened - about 12-15 minutes. You should use about 1.5 tablespoons.
Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoon of the olive oil in an oven-proof lidded pot or Dutch oven over a medium heat. Add the leeks and a pinch of salt (this helps prevent burning) and stir fry for five minutes. Add in the garlic and sauté for a further three two minutes. Add the rice and stir.
Cut half of the tomatoes into slices and dice the remaining.
Stir in the chopped tomatoes and two-third-ish of the cooked eggplants, plus all of the artichokes and semi-dried tomatoes in oil if using, as well as pepper Top with the tomato slices and remaining eggplant.
Gently pour the hot stock - just boiled kind of hot - to one sided of the pan so that it doesn't disturb the top layer of vegetables. Pop the lid on and place on the middle shelf of your preheated oven. Bake for 50 minutes.
After 50 minutes, stir the remaining oil with the breadcrumbs, crushed fennel seeds and minced herbs. If you want to add some chilli flakes and grated Parmesan, go for it. Sprinkle the crumbs (etc) all over the risotto and bake without a lid for a further 10-15 minutes. Ideally you want the risotto to still have a little liquid visible rather than being fully absorbed.
Serve warm rather than piping hot, with sautéed greens or a sharply dressed salad. Wines that go well with this dish are Grüner Veltliner, a dry Provençal rosé and a French (or French-style) Sauvignon Blanc. If you want to keep it Italian, try a Gavi, Pecorino (it goes very well with tomatoes) or a dry-ish Prosecco.
If you wish to use white risotto rice, shave off about 20 minutes of the cooking time and use 700 ml of vegetable stock.
I know in the US cartons of broth are more typical. If so, heat the broth separately and add as indicated. If using stock cubes or powder, use a kettle of just-boiled water to hydrate your cubes/powder in a large jug.
BOOZE! Wines that go well with this dish are Grüner Veltliner, a dry Provençal rosé and a French (or French-style) Sauvignon Blanc. If you want to keep it Italian, try a Gavi, Pecorino (it goes very well with tomatoes) or a dry-ish Prosecco.
CHEESY! A layer of shredded smoked mozzarella added into the centre makes a nice surprise.