Fall is finally here. And in LA that means the temperature has dropped to below 60 (gasp!) and that there have been some rainy days. Yesterday was a rainy Sunday, so my mom and I decided to take advantage of staying indoors all day and make risotto.
Risotto is time consuming, but SO worth it. You know I love my crockpot wonders, but every once in a while, it’s really nice to spend some serious time in the kitchen. This risotto requires some serious prep work (blanching asparagus, lots of chopping and ingredient prep) and once on the stove, you are stirring like a crazy woman. But the end result is pure heaven.
(Yes, I cook in Q’s big sweatshirt and no make-up… don’t judge)
I would recommend making this dish for a special occasion or when you have a rainy Sunday afternoon and happen to have all the ingredients in the fridge like we did! This dish is truly exceptional, just make sure to read through those directions a FEW times before embarking on this one!
Preserved Lemon and Spring Vegetable Risotto with Grilled Shrimp
Serves 6 to 8
- 24 to 32 deveined shrimp, shell on
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons Pernod (or another anise aperitif)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
- Zest of 1/2 large lemon
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary leaves
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 bunch asparagus, woody stems removed, cut into 2-inch lengths
- 6 to 8 cups chicken stock
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 1 small fennel bulb, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- Fine sea salt
- 2 cups arborio rice
- 1/2 cup Pernod, or other anise aperitif
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup mascarpone
- 2 tablespoons rinsed and finely diced preserved lemon rinds
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped mint leaves
- 2 cups peas (frozen are fine)
- Freshly ground white pepper
- In a shallow dish just large enough to hold the shrimp, mix the shrimp with the olive oil, Pernod, garlic, lemon zest, rosemary, and salt and pepper. Let the shrimp marinate at room temperature while you make the risotto.
- Prepare all the risotto ingredients: Blanch the asparagus for 1-2 minutes in salted, boiling water and set aside. Heat the stock in a medium saucepan over low heat. Have everything measured and close at hand by the stove. Once you start stirring the risotto, there’s no stopping.
- Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven (like a Le Creuset). Add the onions, fennel, and garlic and sweat over low heat for about 10 minutes until soft and translucent. Season with salt to taste, about halfway through.
- Add the rice and raise the heat to medium-high. Stir to coat and slightly toast the rice, about 3 minutes. You should hear a lively crackling in the pot. The rice will take on a shiny, translucent coat.
- Add the Pernod and lemon juice to the rice and continue stirring until the liquid is almost completely absorbed.
- Add a ladleful of hot stock to the rice and continue stirring. It’s important to regulate the heat at this point. The rice should neither boil vigorously nor cook too slowly. You’re looking for an even, medium heat that gives the rice a billowy loft and brings some bubbles to the surface.
- As the stock is absorbed, continue adding it by ladlefuls and stirring. If you watch carefully, you’ll see that toward the end the rice really gives itself over to the liquid, releasing its starch to make a kind of cream. Stop incorporating stock once the rice is creamy but still al dente, cooked but not too soft. This should take between 20 and 30 minutes, and between 6 and 8 cups of stock. (*Our rice was really dry so it took all 8 cups).
- Remove the risotto from the heat and immediately fold in the butter, mascarpone, preserved lemon rind, most of the mint (save some for the garnish), the peas, and several grinds of white pepper. The risotto will cook the peas. Stir slowly to blend, check a final time for seasoning, and carefully fold in the asparagus. Put a lid on the risotto and let it rest while you prepare the shrimp. The risotto will expand slightly in volume, and take on a marvelous sheen.
- Grill or broil the shrimp for about 60 seconds on each side, or until the flesh is completely opaque.
- Top each serving of the risotto with 4 shrimp, garnish with the remaining mint and a flourish of pepper and serve.
Slightly adapted from The Food52 Cookbook
I feel like lunch is a pretty boring meal…kind of a midday, on-the-run, place holder between breakfast and dinner. This may also be because of my love of breakfast (I could eat it for every meal if I had the chance) and the sociability of dinner (some good food, good wine and friends). But lunch? Just an inbetweener.
My mom and I made this deconstructed spicy tuna roll over the weekend for lunch and it was the best meal I had all day (and pretty much all week). It really put my “lunch as a place holder” theory to the test, since I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
The bowl is a combination of all things spicy tuna (rice, tuna, avocado, spicy mayo, seaweed with the addition of some tomatoes). I love how this bowl turned out in texture and flavor and would make this again and again to “spice up lunch” (I couldn’t help it with the pun there).
Deconstructed Spicy Tuna Roll
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
- 2 cups cooked white or brown rice
- 2 Japanese cucumbers (or 1/2 an English cucumber deseeded), cut into 1 inch cubes
- 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 pound sushi grade tuna, cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1 avocado, cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons Spicy Mayonnaise (recipe below)
- Roasted Seaweed Pieces, shredded
- Soy Sauce (for drizzling)
- Wasabi, to taste
- Divide the rice between two bowls.
- Make a bed of cucumbers and tomatoes in a flat circle on the rice. Set the tuna cubes on the cucumbers and tomatoes.
- Combine the avocado, lemon juice and salt in a bowl and mix gently. Arrange the avocado on top of the tuna.
- Place a dollop of the Spicy Mayonnaise dressing in the center of the tuna with a dab of wasabi.
- Sprinkle on roasted seaweed shreds and add. Serve with soy sauce and wasabi.
Makes 1/2 cup
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 2-3 teaspoons Sriracha (or spicy chili oil)
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce, preferably low sodium
- Combine the ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk together. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Adapted from My Japanese Table
Doesn’t it feel like Monday today? Something about Columbus Day and my whole travel schedule has thrown me off. When my mom and I discussed what to make for dinner last night, she suggested going with the whole “Meatless Monday” idea we have been doing lately. I was really confused thinking it was Sunday (haha)…but in the end we decided to go with one of my favorite vegetarian dishes, this Red Lentil Stew with Caramelized Onions.
This meal has been a favorite in our house for a few years now. The lentils are filling and delicious, but it is the sweetness of the caramelized onions that really pulls the dish together. We like to serve ours over white Jasmine rice to really create a dinner out of it and since there are only 3 of us, we usually eat leftovers the next day for lunch (always a plus).
Red Lentil Stew with Caramelized Onions
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 cups small red lentils (picked over and rinsed)
- 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 to 3 cups boiling water
- 1 lemon, halved
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
For Caramelized Onions:
- 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 medium onions, halved through the root and thinly sliced lengthwise
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 6 cups cooked white Jasmine rice
- Coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
- Plain or Greek yogurt
- In a large heavy saucepan (we used our Le Creuset), combine the oil, onion, bay leaves and cinnamon stick over moderately low heat, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens, 4 to 5 minutes. Uncover, increase the heat to moderately high, and add the ginger, garlic and cayenne. Cook, stirring until the garlic and ginger are soft, about 3 minutes.
- Add the lentils and cook, stirring, until they are coated with the oil, about 3 minutes. Add 2 cups of the broth and 2 cups of the boiling water and bring to a boil. Reduce the head and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Squeeze the juice of the lemon through a strainer into the lentils. Add the lemon halves, salt, and the remaining 1 cup broth. Cover and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the lentils have broken down into a thick puree, 40 minutes. They should be soupy; if they get too thick, add more boiling water as necessary, 1/4 cup at a time.
For Caramelized Onions:
- About 45-60 minutes before serving, prepare the caramelized onions. In a large nonstick skillet, combine the butter, oil, sugar and onions. Cook over low heat until the onions are browned and form a small pile (they will be very soft and have cooked down a lot). Stir the onions every 5 minutes to ensure all pieces are browning evenly. The process should take about 45-60 minutes (onions can be removed earlier, but will not be as sweet and caramelized). After cooking, season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Discard the lemon halves and cinnamon from the lentils and season with the salt and pepper to taste. Serve the lentils in bowls over white rice, topped with the caramelized onions, cilantro and yogurt.
Adapted from A New Way to Cook
My first memory of lentils is on New Years Day when I was about 6 and my Uncle Ken brought over a huge pot full of them over to our house. He told me that the number of lentils that I ate on the 1st of the year was the amount of money I would make that year. I think I made it through about 2 spoonfuls before giving up. I think lentils are one of those acquired tastes that you learn to like as you grow older (like my relationship with mushrooms). I never really loved lentils until the past few years and now I love them.
Lentils tend to be pretty bland, but this recipe is filled with flavor- the nuttiness of the walnuts paired with the parmesan will knock your socks off. We ate this dish as a side to fish the first night and I’ve been eating it as my lunch for the best few days. I would make this dish over and over again. Next time I may add some dried cherries to try something different.
Lentil Salad with Spinach, Walnuts and Parmesan Cheese
Serves 4 to 6
- 1 cup green lentils, picked over and rinsed
- salt and pepper
- 6 1/2 cups water
- 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 5 garlic cloves, lightly crushed and peeled
- 1 bay leaf
- 12 ounces spinach
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 1 1/2 ounces coarsely grated Parmesan cheese + more for garnish
- Place lentils and 1 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Cover with 4 cups warm water (about 110 degrees) and soak for 1 hour. Drain well. (Drained lentils can be refrigerated for up to 2 days before cooking).
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Place drained lentils, 2 cups water, broth, garlic, bay leaf and 1/2 teaspoon salt in medium saucepan (we used a Le Creuset). Cover and bake until lentils are tender but remain intact, 40 to 60 minutes.
- While lentils are cooking, place 12 ounces of spinach and 1/2 cup water in bowl. Cover and microwave until spinach is wilted and volume is halved, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove bowl from microwave and keep covered for 1 minute. Transfer spinach to colander; gently press to release liquid. Transfer spinach to cutting board and roughly chop. Return to colander and press again. Set aside.
- Whisk oil and vinegar together in a large bowl. Set aside.
- Drain lentils well; remove and discard the garlic and bay leaf. Add drained lentils, spinach, walnuts, shallot and Parmesan cheese to oil and vinegar dressing and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to serving dish and top with slices of Parmesan cheese (I used a vegetable peeler to get the larger slices).
Recipe adapted from the September/October 2011 issue of Cook’s Illustrated