We grow leeks and sage in our Keynsham vegetable patch, and this recipe makes use of them while they are in abundance in January. Despite being meat-free, it still feels satisfyingly hearty for the cold winter days and has the added benefit of being gluten- and dairy-free, so for once those dietaries should be easy!
1 medium leek, trimmed and finely chopped
1 stick celery
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1.25l low-salt or homemade vegetable stock*
200g carnaroli or arborio rice
1 x 400g tin cannellini beans
Small bunch of fresh sage, chopped
200ml rapeseed oil
* A low-salt, or even no-salt, vegetable stock is easy to make in advance by boiling leek, onion, carrot, celery, bay leaves and fresh herbs (use up the stalks here and keep the leaves for the finished dish). Marigold Bouillon does a good low-salt option too.
Begin by making your oil infusion: add one of the crushed garlic cloves and half of the sage to 200ml rapeseed oil, then leave this to stand.
Bring the stock to the boil.
In another pan, gently warm the beans and keep them warm.
Soften the rest of the garlic, the leek and celery on a moderate heat in a wide, heavy-bottomed pan, then add the rice.
Turn up the heat, and stir to coat the grains with oil. When they are hot start adding the stock, a ladleful at a time, waiting until each ladleful is nearly absorbed but the rice is still sloppy before adding another.
After about ten minutes, add the warm beans and half of the chopped sage. Continue adding the stock but in smaller amounts, still waiting for each addition to be absorbed before adding more.
Test the rice often and, when it is cooked to your taste – probably after about 14 minutes – remove from the heat and serve immediately with a drizzle of garlic and sage oil to finish.