Wednesday, 17 April 2013



We have just returned from a FANTASTIC few days staying with friends in Belgium visiting Brussels, Ghent, Leuven and the Tintin Museum - Brussels is the birthplace of Herge and home to the Tintin Museum-

 a real must for all you fellow lovers of the boy reporter and his faithful sidekick Snowy.

We returned with some interesting Belgium beer, some great Tintin pictures and

 a bag full of walnuts..

Yes, walnuts. Not what you normally find amongst your holiday mementos but a much appreciated, very delicious gift, and a welcome change from postcards and boxes of chocolates.

Tintin everywhere

Belgium walnuts

As those of you who have kindly been following for a while know I always like to sample the local food and specialities, so you will be pleased to learn that the Not Just For Rabbits team sampled a range of waffles- plain, sugar and chocolate waffles and even ate a range of Stoofvees, the traditional beef in ale stew served on chips that is so traditional in Brussels.

Lots of places to eat in Brussels

None of these can really warrant a post in their own right, despite their popularity, however the walnuts proved the inspiration for a healthy risotto this evening.  I was really stuck for inspiration and just wanted something simple and veggie and luckily the walnuts were sitting on the kitchen top.

In this recipe the nuts and spinach provide an earthy simplicity and the raisins create a balance and add a subtle sweetness, whilst the cheese adds a light creaminess.


Serves 4
Preparation to plate time 25 minutes


250g brown rice
200g fresh spinach
2 red onions
40g raisins
1handful of fresh cracked walnuts about 50g saving some to sprinkle over the finished dish
Mixture of parmesan and cheddar cheese shavings- about a handful
Lots of salt and pepper to flavour
A glug of olive oil for frying


1.     Heat a pan of water and start to boil the rice for about 5 minutes.
2.     Finely chop the red onions and lightly soften in a large frying pan in the olive oil. After about 5 minutes add the broken walnuts and raisins and allow them to flavour the oil.
3.     Drain the rice into a bowl, keeping the water and tip into the pan with the onions, adding a couple of ladles of the rice water to enable it to continue to cook.
4.     Check every 5 or so minutes and keep adding more rice water to keep it cooking. Also at this stage add a couple of handfuls of spinach every few minutes and allow to wilt into the pan as you go.
5.     After about 20 minutes add some shavings of parmesan and a few shavings of cheddar and keep the rice moist until soft and creamy.

Spinach,walnut and raisin risotto

I used brown rice which takes longer to cook than traditional risotto rice but does add an earthiness to the flavour.

It took about 25 minutes in total but is an easy really tasty dish. You could use a blue cheese instead of the parmesan and cheddar but I think it would mask the sweetness of the raisins which would be a shame.

Ghent in Belgium

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