Sunday, August 19, 2007
Cool enough for risotto!
It's been a hot coupla weeks here in Lake Wobegon, my hometown, so when the weather cooled down and the rain started, I was ready to stand over the stove a spell. I have been craving risotto and have so many lovely vegetables to add from my garden that I was inspired. I found a recipe that used green beans. You can follow any risotto recipe, which is basically 1 1/2 cups of arborio rice to 6 cups of broth and 1/2 cup of wine. First you saute whatever you want in some olive oil (I used onions, carrots, shallots and garlic) briefly, add the rice, stir and saute for about 3 minutes, then start adding broth, 1 cup at a time. Stir pretty continuously. You don't want it to stick to the bottom of the pan (I use a large iron skillet). When most of the broth is absorbed, add the next cup and stir more. Keep it on a medium/low flame. The entire process will take about 45 minutes. When you have added 5 cups and it has been absorbed, add the wine and stir. Once that is absorbed, add the final cup of broth and the colorful things. Prepare them in advance so they don't need cooking. I blanched the green beans in boiling water for 4.5 minutes. They had lost their squeakiness but were not overcooked. Also be sure to add about 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese at this point. This gives the dish the signature creaminess that is so delicious. The final dish will be creamy and al dente. Eat immediately if possible. It is difficult to reheat if you don't have a microwave, so eat it all up.
As a side dish, we had fresh baby collard greens sauteed in butter and schmaltz. Some people like to use bacon for this, which is very good. I melted the butter and schmaltz (about 1.5 tablespoons each), added sliced shallots and garlic and cooked until they were soft. Then I added the cleaned and chopped collards, turned the heat to low, put on the lid and waited about long enough for one song on my iPod. Then I added two tablespoons of kombucha, a fermented tea. Most Magidows add vinegar or lemon juice at this point, but I had a batch of kombucha that was smelling a lot like vinegar, so I tried it. It is a marvelous beverage and tonic, and is very nice for salad dressings or anything that calls for an acidic ingredient. The result was quite marvelous. Jeff made fresh bread and we picked some sweet cherry tomatoes from the garden to round out the meal: