Having arrived late at night, there wasn’t much I could see but I was shown to my new home, a beautiful caravan in the garden! I fell asleep exhausted and in anticipation of what my surroundings would be like by daylight. I wasn’t disappointed! The centre is a 17th century house set amongst olive groves, fruit trees and rolling hills. It's no wonder groups of yoga lovers come here year after year to enjoy the amazing sense of peace and calm and to practice yoga on the incredible platform, which overlooks the valley. I fell in love with it all immediately!
So, my first week of cooking has come to an end and its been a lot of fun. I spent the first few days finding my way around the kitchen and making menu plans for the coming days. But with a thriving vegetable garden at my disposable, as well as buckets of olive oil from the trees, it wasn’t long before I found my flow! I’ve been making use of the masses of greens, especially chicoria, which is extremely bitter and needs to be boiled for sometime before you can begin to use it. Once boiled, it's completely delicious, sautéed with some olive oil, garlic and lemon and tossed with salt and almonds. On the vegetable and salad front there's been lots to choose from, although I can see my creativity will be put to the test with the vast numbers of tomatoes, courgettes and aubergines which seem to emerge from the garden on a daily basis! I've also been experimenting with risotto but risotto made with brown rice and no dairy. It may sound dull but my risotto primavera (spring vegetable risotto) was one of this weeks most favourite dishes. Typically, it's made by adding grated potato, carrot and courgette to the risotto rice - as well as lots of butter and parmigiano, of course! But this dish is also delicious with no parmesan or butter. Olive oil is used instead and the potato helps to make the brown rice really creamy. The end result is a beautifully creamy and colourful risotto, which is light and nutritious.
The week ended on a high note with a little party by the pool and lots of dancing. This group of yogis knew how to have a good time! But it was soon time to say goodbye and prepare for group number 2 - the Austrian ashtangas. We shall see how this next week unfolds!
300g short grain brown rice
3 tblsp olive oil
1 onion diced small
2 cloves of garlic crushed
2 carrots grated
1 potato grated
1 medium sized courgette grated
Juice of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 lemon
1.7 litres of veg stock
150ml white wine
handful of herbs (parsley, chives, basil, mint or whatever's available)
Salt and pepper
Heat the olive and saute the onion until soft and translucent
Add garlic and potato and saute until the potato begins to go creamy (about 5 mins)
Add carrot and courgette, place lid on pot and allow vegetables to soften together
Add rice, coating in the veg and oil
Add stock a little at a time and keep stirring gently until rice is cooked but leave it a little al dente
Add wine towards the end, as well as lemon juice, zest and herbs
Add salt and pepper to taste
Its as easy as that!