A risotto is a great, comforting thing – and not just for winter in my view. Once you've mastered the art, it can be easily adapted for all sorts of seasonal ingredients. I've used sea lettuce here which you can gather easily from the beach when the tide is on the way out – it gets left behind as the water gets shallower and, handily, it's difficult to mistake with its fine, bright-green leaves.
Live cockles are as much of a treat as clams – except you need to ensure that they have a good old wash under running water for an hour or so, and that they are agitated every so often with your hand or a spoon to remove the grit from the grooves in the shell.
Half a glass of white wine
A handful of samphire, cleaned and woody stalks removed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the risotto
4 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
60ml olive oil
400g Carnaroli rice
1 litre hot vegetable stock
1tbsp double cream
120-150g edible seaweed like sea lettuce, washed well (or you can buy a mix for seaweed salad from Japanese supermarkets)
First make the risotto: gently cook the shallots for a few minutes in the olive oil until soft. Add the rice and stir it well with a wooden spoon. Gradually add the hot stock a little at a time, stirring constantly and ensuring that each addition has been fully absorbed by the rice before adding the next.
When the rice is almost cooked, add the seaweed and keep adding stock until the rice is soft and plump; the risotto should be quite moist by this stage. Then add the cream, butter and correct the seasoning.
Meanwhile, give the cockles a final rinse and place in a pan with the wine and samphire and lightly season. Cover with a lid and cook on a high heat for a couple of minutes, shaking the pan a couple of times until they open.
To serve, spoon the risotto into warmed bowls and place the cockles and samphire over the top with a little of the liquid.Reuse content