It happens to the best of us. You’re roaming the aisles of the supermarket, wondering what you’ll make for dinner/Sunday lunch and you’re stumped. You want to do something different, for once, but inspiration is short-handed.
Suddenly, you come across a new product, read all the labels on the box and think “Well, that sounds nice. I could do something with this.” So you put it in your cart/basket. Once home, you put it in the pantry or fridge … and pretty much forget about it. Until the day when you open the door, stare at it for the 1000th time and decide that you should really do something with this.
One such product I encountered during my Christmas holidays in Greece was trahanoto. I saw it on the shelf, in its little grey box that boasted “the Greek version of risotto, ready in 5 minutes!” I like risotto, but isn’t it nice when you change up the starch a bit?
Trahanoto is made from trahana, which is a typically Greek, middle-eastern product. You can find it under similar names in pretty much every country from Hungary and Bosnia, all the way to Iran. It is a starch that looks something like a coarse couscous or bulgur, made of wheat flour and milk or yogurt, which is mixed then let to ferment and dry. It is usually served as a soup.
There are 4 types of trahana, so far as I know: sour (made with fermented goat’s milk), sweet (with milk), lean (made with water and eaten during Lent) and xinohondros (literally, sour and coarse).
So it seems someone in Greece came up with the idea to prepare it in a different way, and I found that quite nice. The trahana in the box resembled pasta, and it does what it says on the box: it’s ready in 5! I was very surprised, as I wasn’t expecting it to be ready so soon.
I used a risotto recipe that I have been doing for quite some time, so it goes without saying that you can very well use risotto rice.
- 2 tbsp butter
- 200g / 7 oz. courgettes/zucchini (about 1 medium), chopped
- A handful fresh mint leaves, torn
- A handful fresh parsley, chopped
- 4 shallots, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 300g / 10.5 oz. / 1½ cups trahanoto or risotto rice
- 1 glass white wine
- 900ml / 4 cups vegetable stock
- 100g / 1 cup fresh Ricotta
- 100g / 1 cup grated Parmesan
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Optional: fresh lemon zest
In a sauté pan, melt half the butter over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, sauté the courgettes until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the mint and parsley. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
In the same pan, melt the remaining butter. Add the shallots and garlic and sauté until softened, about 2-3 minutes.
Add the trahanoto or risotto, and stir with a wooden spoon, until all the grains are coated and glistening. Pour in the wine and stir until completely absorbed.
If using trahanoto, pour in the stock and allow to simmer, stirring regularly, until all the liquid is absorbed.
If using risotto rice, add 1 ladle of stock and stir continuously until absorbed. Re peat, one ladle at a time, until the rice is cooked but still has a little bite. It should take 18-20 minutes and you may not need all the stock.
Add the ricotta and parmesan, and mix well. Season with salt and pepper, add the courgettes and mix.
Cover and allow to rest for 2 minutes before serving, topped with fresh lemon zest.