With the last tender winter cabbages, as their leaves start to toughen, we love to make this traditional vegan Greek risotto. Costas prefers the version with tomato, although many people like it white, adding leek or chopped scallions, and of course plenty of lemon, and some dill at the end.
To make it substitute cabbage for the other greens in the recipe for Risotto with Greens.
Although I think that it tastes best piping hot, it could also be served at room temperature, as my husband likes it too.
Serves 3 as main course; 5-6 as a side dish
About 1/3 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onions
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced (optional)
4-5 cups shredded cabbage, not too thinly
2 medium carrots, grated
1 ½ tablespoon tomato paste
1 ¼ cups Arborio rice or other good-quality medium grain rice
1/2 cup white wine
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
Salt and plenty of Aleppo/Maras pepper flakes, to taste
½ cinnamon stick
About 8 cups very hot vegetable or chicken broth, or water (see NOTE)
Good olive oil for drizzling
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Diced feta, Grated Parmesan, Grana Padano or aged Graviera (optional)
1 lemon or lime, quartered (optional) .
Warm the olive oil and sauté the onions for about 8 minutes, on medium-low, tossing often. Add the garlic, if using, and toss a few times then add the cabbage and carrots and increase the heat to medium-high. Sauté another 4-6 minutes, until the cabbage is softened and glistening.
Add the tomato paste and toss a few times. Pour in the wine, add salt and pepper flakes, and cook for another cook for a few minutes, until the wine evaporates.
Add the rice and the cinnamon stick and stir a few times, then pour in 1 cup of hot broth and cook, stirring frequently. Add the cherry tomatoes and continue adding broth by the ladle, as the rice absorbs the liquid, until it is almost cooked, about 15 minutes until the rice is al dente.
Remove from the heat. Add pepper and lemon juice, if you like and fold in the cheese, if you like, or serve the cheese separately. Ttaste to correct the seasoning, finishing with a drizzle of good olive oil and some finely grated lemon juice and zest, if you like.
Instead of vegetable broth, soak 1/2 cup dried Porcini mushrooms in warm water for 20 minutes. Chop them finely with scissors and add to the rice with their strained liquid, after the wine has evaporated. Cook the risotto as described, adding boiling water in place of stock as needed.