3 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, cut into roughly 1cm/½in chunks
2 celery sticks, trimmed and cut into roughly 1cm/½in chunks
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
275g/9¾oz risotto rice, such as Arborio
100ml/3½fl oz white wine (optional) – locally/nationally sourced
1 litre/1¾ pint stock (made with 1 vegetable cube)
1 small lemon, finely grated
50g/1¾oz Hard cheese locally sourced finely grated, plus extra to serve
salt and freshly ground black pepper
freshly chopped parsley, to serve (optional)
1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan or medium flameproof casserole. Add the onion, carrots and celery, stir well then cover and cook over a low heat for 10–12 minutes, or until soft and lightly browned, stirring 2–3 times to prevent it sticking. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more, stirring.
2. Stir in the risotto rice and cook for a minute, stirring constantly. Pour in the wine, and bring to a simmer. Cook for 30–40 seconds, stirring.
3. Add all the stock to the risotto. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook uncovered for 22–25 minutes, or until the rice is tender and very creamy. Stir the risotto every 4–5 minutes for the first 10 minutes of the cooking time, then more regularly as the liquid reduces and the rice swells; stirring constantly for the final 5 minutes.
4. Stir in the lemon zest and hard cheese and some fresh spinach (optional).
Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve topped with extra cheese and freshly chopped parsley if you like.