Thursday, July 09, 2015

Tuesday Night Fun Cooking (on Wednesday): easy risotto

After a rather long and not entirely intentional hiatus, Tuesday Night Fun Cooking! has returned!! At least for the time being. I'm taking the kids on a road trip the last couple weeks of July and then in early August - fingers crossed the contractor is ready - a badly needed, years overdue renovation (addition, kitchen overhaul, some other stuff) will begin and our whole house will be in upheaval for a few months. TNFC may happen in the bathroom on a hot plate because I am not interested in three months of takeout.

But that's in the future. I'm not really going to believe that project will start until it does. We've had several delays already and we still just have a vague idea of the date they start digging.

Back to TNFC, however...for now, I've decided to have the kids help me cook on Wednesdays instead of Tuesdays, for purely logistical reasons. We pick up our CSA share every Wednesday afternoon, which means that by Tuesday night I'm throwing together dinner from whatever pitiful scraps of broccoli and wilted cucumber are left in the fridge, whereas on Wednesday we have a beautiful array of crisp, fresh produce to work with. We have the benefit of getting an email from the farm on Tuesday afternoon with weekly reminders, a newsletter, and a list of everything that will be in our box. This week I decided to make easy risotto with parsley pesto and fresh vegetables.

We were a little short on the arborio rice required for risotto, so I found some short grain brown rice to augment the recipe. The kids learned how to measure and dump into the rice cooker.

This is the edge of our 60+ year old porcelain kitchen sink. I can't wait to see it go.
After the brown rice got cooking, we made pesto out of the large bunch of parsley that came in our CSA share. First they rinsed the parsley and then spun it in the salad spinner. 

Kids love using the salad spinner.
The next task was to strip the parsley leaves off the stems and put them in the food processor. Daniel kept dropping his on the floor and had to re-rinse them. He found this annoying and had fun creating some drama about it.

"WHY???!!!!"
 I

Anya, who is fully recovered from her knife injury of last month, carefully cut up some garlic scapes for the pesto.


Daniel measured broth for cooking the rest of the rice.


And that's the last of the progress pictures from last night's TFNC (on Wednesday) adventure because when it came time to chop onions and sauté them, the onion fumes were so strong Daniel had to flee the kitchen and I took over for a while. I think we need to get him some onion goggles.

My dinner plate! Risotto with vegetables, salad with pesto dressing, hunk of goat cheese for good measure.
Parsley Pesto
Note: This made enough pesto to use in the risotto, plus some extra. I used the leftover to make salad dressing by adding more olive oil, some cider vinegar, and chopped green onion.
  • 1 bunch Italian flat leaf parsley (about 2 cups of leaves)
  • 2-3 garlic scapes (or one clove garlic)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3-4 T. toasted sunflower seeds (I used unsalted)
  • 3-4 T. extra virgin olive oil
  1. Wash the parsley and strip leaves from the stems. Roughly chop the garlic clove or scapes. 
  2. Place parsley leaves, garlic, salt, and sunflower seeds in food processor.
  3. With blades running, drizzle in the olive oil and process until you have a nice smooth paste. Taste for salt.
Easy Risotto
This is easier than regular risotto because you bake it. Normally, risotto calls for more than a half hour of stirring while you add the broth a little bit at a time. That's the superior way to make it, I know, but when you're cooking with kids and have to make salad and clean up before dinner, I'll live with a slightly inferior end result in exchange for time to get that other stuff done. 
Also, I rarely make risotto the same way twice. It's a great way to use a variety of vegetables or use up small amounts of things in one dish. You can put pesto in or not. You can use meat or not (I didn't this time).
  • 3 T. butter or olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 zucchini or yellow squash, chopped
  • 1 and 1/2 cups arborio rice
  • about 4 cups broth (chicken or vegetable), warmed
  • 1/2 cup parsley pesto (see above recipe)
  • 2 cups fresh peas
  • grated parmesan or crumbled goat cheese for garnish
  1. Warm the broth in a saucepan or in the microwave and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350.
  3. In a cast iron or oven proof dutch oven (this is important!!) heat the butter or oil and sauté onions for several minutes or until soft.
  4. Add the garlic and chopped zucchini and cook another 3-4 minutes or until the squash is soft.
  5. Stir in the arborio rice.
  6. Add the broth all at once and bring to a boil.
  7. Put the lid on the dutch oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until the rice is cooked.
  8. Remove the dutch oven and stir in the peas and pesto. Put the lid back on and let everything steam for a couple of minutes while you grate cheese, set the table, make salad, or whatever else you need to do at the last minute.

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