Sundried Tomato and Courgette Risotto

Risotto has often been referred to as “the death dish’’ on Masterchef and is particularly hard to master. However, I think that if given the chance, my dish would be loved by the Masterchef judges.

Sundried Tomato and Courgette Risotto

A risotto is an Italian rice dish and originates from North Italy and is cooked with a broth to create a creamy consistency and often butter and wine is also added. It is often served as a first course (Primo), but I have mine as a main for dinner as it’s that yummy!

Over the years I have perfected this dish and believe that this is one dish you cannot leave out of your sight. It also makes a great workout for your arm muscles through the constant stirring to avoid the rice from sticking and scorching at the bottom of the pan, whilst also helps to incorporate the fat and starch from the rice to create that beautiful creamy texture that risotto is renowned for.

Perhaps cooking could be your new gym workout, it’s definitely a lot more interesting than running on a treadmill on an endless journey to nowhere!

So, what are the key steps to make the perfect risotto? Here are my top 5 key points:

  1. Make sure you use Arborio rice or Carnaroli (an Italian short-grain rice variety).
  2. Sauté the rice in butter with onions first to coat them in fat to avoid the rice releasing starch too early in the cooking process.
  3. Ensure your broth is simmering and not too hot to prevent the starches from hardening and creating that creamy texture. Also only add one ladleful at a time, and once absorbed then add the next.
  4. Use a wooden spoon. The wooden spoon is probably my favourite kitchen utensil and is definitely your saviour when cooking risotto to ensure all the rice is coated and to get into the edges of the pot. A flat wooden spoon is best for this.
  5. Stir! You need a good deal of patience when making risotto and as I said before, it makes a great workout, and you’ll get toned arm muscles in no time!

Now that you know the core steps, here is my recipe for a Sundried Tomato and Courgette Risotto, topped with Smoked Salmon.


  • ½ Onion
  • 2 pieces garlic diced
  • 2 birds eye chillies diced (optional)
  • Thumb-sized piece of ginger, diced
  • ¼ teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 Courgette, rinsed and grated
  • 10 sundried tomatoes in oil, drained and sliced
  • 750ml vegetable or chicken stock (home-made is best)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or oil from the sundried tomatoes
  • 200g short-grain Italian rice (Arborio or Carnaroli)
  • 30g butter
  • 30g Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • 50g smoked salmon


  1. Peel and finely chop the onion, dice the garlic, ginger and red chilli and grate the lemon zest and leave to one side.
  2. Cut off the courgette ends and coarsely grate without peeling, then thinly slice the sundried tomatoes.
  3. Pour the stock into a small saucepan and gently simmer.
  4. Heat the oil in another pan over a medium heat, and add the onion, garlic, ginger, chilli and lemon zest. Stir until the onion is soft, but not brown.
  5. Add the rice and stir until all the grains are coated.
  6. Add one ladleful of the simmering stock to the rice and continue to sit until all the liquid has absorbed. Continue to add one ladleful of stock at a time once the previous ladleful has been absorbed, stirring constantly. This should take approximately 20 minutes.
  7. With the last ladleful of stock, also add the grated courgette and sundried tomatoes to the rice and continue to stir until all the liquid has been absorbed.
  8. Stir in the butter and parmesan cheese and add salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.

Either eat as it is, or also add some delicious smoked salmon on top. Bon appetite!