Thursday, August 11, 2011

Roasted Vegetable Risotto

Risotto may seem like some kind of fancy, complicated meal but more times than not, I make it when I want to clean out my fridge. Doesn't sound very extravagant when you put it that way, but when you have veggies, stock, cream/milk, cheese, etc that's about to be borderline and you just need an easy way to get rid of all in one fell swoop... risotto is my favorite go to meal for that. It's great also because it can be as light or as heavy as you want, and can be vegetarian, vegan or you can go all out carnivore and throw in all kinds of meat. And once you've made it you'll find that all it takes is some attentiveness and a good stirring spoon.
Toasting the arborio and farro before adding in wine and stock
Thinking that I'd make ratatouille at some point this past week (my plans were foiled by the discovery of crawfish), I had some eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes and thyme lying around, and also some ricotta and piave, as well as some vegetable stock that needed to be used asap. Instead of sauteing I decided to roast the vegetables, allowing for a deeper flavor to emerge as well as not letting the eggplant soak up oil like a sponge, as it is known to do over a stovetop. So the risotto was made solo, with both arborio and farro, then the cheese and vegetables added once everything was all done. The wine I used was a sharp, citrus-y sauvignon blanc and that lent a nice lightness to the dish, as well as not using any cream or butter. It was still rich and creamy but also not too heavy and the roasted vegetables were the perfect accompaniment to keep it feeling like a summer meal.

Roasted Vegetable Risotto
1/2 c. arborio rice
1/4 c. farro
4-5 c. stock- can be chicken, beef, vegetable- and could be a little more or less
1 c. dry white wine
2 Tbl. olive oil
1/3 c. ricotta
Salt and pepper to taste
Piave, or another hard Italian cheese for shaving over
Vegetables for roasting: I used eggplant, zucchini, chayote, and cherry tomatoes- chopped
4-5 cloves unpeeled garlic
1 tsp. fresh thyme
1/2 tsp. rosemary

1. Preheat oven to 425. Chop up vegetables and then toss with 1 Tbl. olive oil, salt, thyme and rosemary and lay out flat in a baking dish. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes- vegetables should be browned, but not blackened. Keep baking and checking at 10 minute intervals until done.
2. Heat a skillet with the remaining Tbl. olive oil over medium heat. Add the rice and farro and lightly toast until browned. Stir in the wine, which will likely steam. The rice will absorb the liquid and once the liquid gets low, start adding in the stock, 1 cup at a time until the liquid is absorbed. Continue to stir. Once the rice starts to plump up, taste, and continue to add stock as necessary until rice is cooked- approximately 25-30 minutes.
3. Once rice is fully cooked taste for salt/pepper and stir in the ricotta. Take vegetables out of the oven and peel the garlic. Turn off the heat and add the roasted vegetables and then shave the piave over. Serve immediately.

And I guess I haven't really had a dear diary post in a little while because I wouldn't even know where to begin. The summer's going out with a bang and I'm down to taking it a day at a time. There are a lot of things on my mind lately but I feel like it's too much or too early to process, so I'm just keeping my head down, staying happy, looking forward to vacations and visits and friends, and letting everything else work itself out with time.

Also, big congratulations to my youngest (and littlest) cousin Katie on the birth of her little boy, Jaxson, today. Such a unique and great way to keep a family name alive (Jackson is my Mom's- and her Mom/my aunt's- maiden name, and with only 4 girls, they were the last Jackson's of that line).

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