Those ready-cooked pouches of rice are a godsend. I always have a few in my cupboard, ready to microwave in two minutes when time or energy are short. I’ve been slow to realise that they also make a great improvised risotto and the more they are at the cheapie own-brand end of the range, the better the result. The fatter the rice, the more it resembles the proper Arborio version. I made this on a Sunday evening when the fridge had little in it and was awaiting an online delivery the next day. Some chestnut mushrooms, some sprouting broccoli and chicken stock – and it was all done in 15 minutes flat. Use any dried or fresh herb of your choice for extra flavour– I added some of my home-assembled Italian herb and spice mix but dried thyme, tarragon or dill would be equally good.

Serves 2

1 red onion

2 crushed garlic cloves

1 teaspoon dried herbs of your choice (see above)

5 large chestnut mushrooms

4 sprouting broccoli spears

Teaspoon of butter

1 pouch of supermarket own brand cooked rice

1 tablespoon tomato puree

325 ml chicken or vegetable stock

70g parmesan cheese

Soften the onion in a little oil and add the garlic at the last moment. Sprinkle in the dried herb of your choice.

While this is happening, trim away the mushroom stalks and fine chop them. Reserve three of the mushrooms and fine chop the other two. Slice the reserved mushrooms thickly into neat rounds or half moons. Cut off the broccoli florets and fine chop the stems.

In a separate pan, briefly fry the mushroom slices in a little butter.

Add the finely chopped mushroom and chopped broccoli to the onions. Open the packet of rice and use your hands to carefully break up the clumps. Shake the rice into the pan. Add the tomato puree to the stock and pour it, a little at a time, into the pan, stirring gently with a wooden spoon. Add enough of the liquid to produce a soft juicy texture. Let it simmer for about two minutes – this will be enough to cook the broccoli. Grate half the parmesan into the rice. Check the seasoning – it may not need any more as there is salt in the rice and cheese but if it seems a little bland, add some ground black pepper.

Turn the risotto into deep warmed dishes and add the fried mushroom slices to the top of each, offering the rest of the parmesan at the table.