Is there a more magical time of the year? When nature is in so many ways at its most vibrant: rich, bold shades or orange, ochre, yellow and deep velvety browns. Surely this is what Sundays are made for: the time to explore the outdoors on mellow, beautifully lit afternoons with the sound of crisp, golden, crunchy leaves underfoot as you make for an arboretum or set off into the woods, foraging for berries and mushrooms.
Returning with packed to the brim baskets to the crackle of an open fire and the chance to snuggle up in an arm chair under layers of luxuriously soft, cosy linen blanket and get ready to enjoy a spot of slow home cooking.
At Once Milano, it's a time of the year when we delight in a stomach-warming risotto: food that is good for the soul as much as it is smooth and rich, luxurious, soft and creamy... we're hungry already.
Ingredients (serves 4):
400g fresh mushrooms, sliced and washed
300g risotto rice, such as arborio or carnaroli
1L vegetable stock
4 tbsp olive oil
1 golden or white onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 glass white wine
25g butter a handful of parsley leaves, chopped
50g parmesan, freshly grated
1. Warm 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, then cook for about 5 mins until soft Stir in the mushrooms, and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Remove mushrooms and their liquid, and set aside.
2. Add the remaining olive oil to the skillet, and stir in the onion. Cook for 5 minutes until tender and translucent. Add the rice, stirring to coat with oil for about 4/5 minutes. When the rice has taken on a golden colour, pour in the wine, stirring constantly until it is fully absorbed.
3. Keep the pan over a medium heat and pour in a quarter of the stock. Simmer the rice, stirring often, until the rice has absorbed all the liquid.
4. Add about the same amount of stock again and continue to simmer and stir - it should start to become creamy, plump and tender. Before the final quarter of stock is added, stir in the mushrooms with their liquid.
5. Continue stirring until the rice is cooked. If the rice is still undercooked, add a splash of water. Take the pan off the heat, add the butter and scatter over half the cheese and the parsley. Cover and leave for a few mins so that the rice can take up any excess liquid as it cools a bit. Give the risotto a final stir, spoon into bowls and scatter with the remaining cheese and parsley.
6. Serve it immediately on a wonderful Once Milano linen placemat, napkins or lovely linen tablecloth.
ASPARAGI DI BASSANO
HOW TO SET A COLOURFUL TABLE