Caramelised onion risotto with ale and balsamic vinegar

  • Serves 4
  • Hands-on time 1 hour 15 min
  • Easy
The deep, warming flavours of the ale brings a hearty richness to this vegetarian risotto. Paired with sweet and sticky caramelised onions, this recipe will go down a treat with vegetarians and carnivores alike.

Nutritional info per serving

  • Calories513kcals
  • Fat13.5g (5.4g saturated)
  • Protein13.3g
  • Carbohydrates79.6g (16.4g sugars)
  • Fibre3.8g
  • Salt 2.3g
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  • Olive oil for frying
  • 3 red onions, finely sliced
  • 1½ tbsp brown sugar
  • 1.2 litres vegetable stock 
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 300g vialone nano risotto rice (from Ocado, Waitrose and delis)
  • 350ml pale ale (we used Tribute Cornish pale ale) 
  • Juice 1 lemon
  • 2½ tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp crème fraîche
  • 200g chard, roughly chopped
  • Bunch fresh parsley, leaves picked and roughly chopped
  • 50g freshly grated parmesan (or vegetarian alternative) or crumbled goat’s cheese to serve


  1. Heat a glug of oil in a large, deep heavy-based frying pan over a low-medium heat. Add the onions and fry for 30 minutes until soft and beginning to caramelise. Add the sugar and cook for 5 minutes more. 
  2. Warm the stock in another pan. Add the garlic and rice to the onions in the pan and cook for 5 minutes, stirring continuously, until the rice is turning translucent at the edges. 
  3. Pour in nearly all the ale and cook, stirring, until the liquid has been absorbed. Begin adding the warm stock, ladle by ladle, waiting until the liquid has been absorbed before adding more, stirring continuously, until the rice is almost cooked through (30-35 minutes). 
  4. Add the lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, crème fraîche, remaining ale and the chard. Cook for a further 5 minutes, adding water or more stock to loosen the risotto if it thickens too much. Stir in the parsley and serve straightaway with the grated or crumbled cheese.
  • Try different types of risotto rice, such as arborio or carnaroli – or pearl barley.
  • Caramelise the onions (step 1) up to 24 hours in advance. Cool completely, then cover and chill. Warm before continuing.

From October 2017

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