Rice is such a great food to eat if you have a sensitive gut. It is filling, provides a good source of energy and it can be tolerated by most people. There is little in rice to upset anyone.
Risotto is made from special short grain rice such Arborio or Carnaroli which release their starch during cooking to give the dish a creamy, semi liquid consistency. Other ingredients have to be added to risotto to make it taste good. Here lies the problem for those who find onions and garlic difficult to tolerate. Risotto is usually made with both garlic and onions. Even the classic stock used to cook risotto is flavoured with them.
In the recipe below we have used garlic oil and the green part of salad onions to flavour the risotto. I also experimented with using a dilute miso stock which I liked. Alternatively make your own stock. There is a great recipe here. You can then add other nutritious ingredient combinations to your risotto base such as chestnuts, a little butternut squash and sage; red pepper and goats cheese; or young, spring vegetables such as baby carrots, courgettes and green beans.
One of our favourite risottos is smoked salmon and lemon served with a shaved salad of fennel, rocket and orange. Smoked salmon is an oily fish which is good to eat weekly. The vegetables are an excellent source of micronutrients and dietary fibre which helps to keep the body and its microbiome healthy.
Risotto takes about 20 minutes to cook. The more it is stirred during cooking, the creamier the consistency of finished dish. This is not time wasted. Stirring food rhythmically at the stove is time during the day when you can still your mind and be peaceful. This is very important if you have a sensitive gut as a still, calm mind can help prepare the gut for eating. The calmer you are the calmer you gut is likely to be.
Risotto is often a good emergency meal as most of the ingredients for a basic risotto are store cupboard items. Once you have mastered a basic risotto you can experiment with your own combination of ingredients to add to it.
Smoked salmon and lemon risotto
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic sliced
- green leaves from 4 salad onions or a tbsp chopped chives
- 1 stick celery, finely chopped
- 300 g/11oz risotto rice
- 1 small glass of dry white wine or dry white vermouth
- 1 l warm, homemade vegetable stock or 2 tsp miso dissolved in 1 l warm water
- 60 g/2 oz Parmesan cheese, finely grated
- 1 lemon, grated rind and juice
- 150 g/5 oz smoked salmon, cut into strips
- handful of baby spinach leaves
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the salad
- 100g/3 oz rocket
- small bulb fennel, cut into thin slices
- 1 small orange peeled and sliced
Sweat the sliced garlic in the oil and discard the slices of garlic when they begin to brown. Add the salad onion/chives and celery to the oil and cook for 5 minutes or until soft. Add the rice and continue to cook for 5 minutes until it just begins to brown.
Add the glass of white wine, or vermouth, and allow this to evaporate before gradually adding the warm stock a ladleful at a time.
Stir the risotto continuously with a wooden spoon until the rice is soft but still has a slight bite (this will take about 20 minutes). Add the baby spinach and continue cooking for a couple of minutes to allow the leaves to wilt. Stir the grated lemon rind and Parmesan cheese through the risotto and add little lemon juice to taste. Finally stir the strips of smoked salmon through the risotto to warm through.
Dress the rocket, fennel and orange with a sprinkle of sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil.
Serve the risotto with the salad and more grated Parmesan cheese.
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