Tag Archives: Italian

Risotto with Spring Vegetables

27 Apr

2 cups shelled fava beans (about 1 1/2 pounds unshelled)
1/2 cup fresh green peas
4 cups chicken or veggie stock2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped shallots
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1 cup uncooked Carnaroli or Arborio rice or other medium-grain rice
1/8 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed
1/2 cup white wine
8 ounces thin asparagus, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 cup (4 ounces) grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


1. Cook beans in boiling water 2 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water; drain. Remove tough outer skins from beans; discard skins. Cook peas in boiling water 2 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water; drain well.
2. Bring Homemade Chicken Stock to a simmer in a small saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat.
3. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add shallots and carrot to pan; cook 4 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add rice and saffron; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in wine; cook 30 seconds or until the liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add 1 cup stock; cook 4 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add remaining stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of stock is absorbed before adding the next (about 25 minutes total). Stir in fava beans, peas, and asparagus with last addition of stock. Remove from heat; stir in cheese, parsley, salt, and pepper.

David Bonom, Cooking Light, May 2010

This risotto is absolutely perfect for those cool, rainy April days we’ve been having in Chicago.  It incorporates plenty of early-spring produce that’s now popping up in local farmers markets, including asparagus, carrots, fava beans, onion and peas.  The white wine and saffron enhance these fresh veggies and the Parmesan adds a nice floral zing.

In case you’re new to the wonderful world of fava beans, as many Americans are, here is a little background.  Fava beans are one of the oldest beans around, originating approximately 3000 BC.  They’ve been a staple in Europe and Asia for centuries, but have remained fairly obscure in the U.S.  As such, there are a little overpriced in our markets, but still doable.  I’ve also found a newfound love of cooking with fava beans because they are so satisfying to shell; the beans are big enough that they don’t get lost in the process and they pop out really easily.  They have a buttery and slightly bitter taste and add quite a bit of texture to this and any other dish.

This is a great weeknight meal but, as with any risotto, be prepared to spend some time hovering over the warm stove.  I’m a major wimp compared those strong Italian women and after cooking risotto my arm is always tired and I’m hot as hell.  No worries, there will be cold white wine at hand.

Advertisements

Romanesco Broccoli and Rigatoni

28 Nov

Salt & Pepper

1 pound rigatoni pasta

3 tablespoons butter

1 large onion, chopped

2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 cup chicken or vegetable stock

1 head romanesco broccoli or broccolini, cut into florets

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

2 sprigs rosemary, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

2/3 cup grated pecorino-romano cheese, plus more to pass around

1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add pasta and cook until al dente.  Drain reserving a couple ladles full of pasta cooking water.

2. While the pasta is working, in a large heavy saucepan or Dutch over, melt the butter over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and garlic and cook until golden, 6-7 minutes.  Stir in wine for 1 minute, then the chicken stock.  Add the broccoli, lemon peel, rosemary and crushed red pepper.  Season with black pepper.  Cover and cook for 10 minutes.

3. In serving bowl, toss pasta, reserved pasta cooking water, cooked vegetables, cheese and nuts for a minute.  Season with salt and black pepper and serve, passing extra cheese at the table.

Everyday with Rachel Ray, December 2009

This recipe is incredibly fast and easy.  There is an interesting interaction between flavors, from the florals of the cheese to the walnuts and earthy broccoli.  That said, there are certainly more fun and flavorful pastas out there.  The sauce is either non-existent or a little watery, but the broccoli and nuts add a nice texture and the passing cheese thickens the sauce.  This is not the most exciting recipe, but it’s a nice option for a quick meal.  The ease  of preparation balances the lack of any powerful flavor.

Smoked Mozzarella and Chicken Sandwiches with Italian Barbecue Sauce

27 Nov

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1 red onion, finely chopped

2 large cloves garlic, chopped or grated

1 14.5 oz. can diced fire-roasted tomatoes

1/2 cup chicken stock

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Salt & Pepper

4 pieces skinless boneless chicken breast, halved horizontally

12 thin slices smoked mozzarella (1 pound ball)

2 cups loosely packed baby arugula

1/2 cup basil leaves shredded or torn

1 loaf ciabatta bread, split lengthwise and cut into 4 pieces

1. Preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat.  In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil, 2 turns of the pan.  Add onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add tomatoes and chicken stock and heat through, about 5 minutes.  Stir in vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce and lots of pepper.  Lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 7-8 minutes.

2. Drizzle chicken with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Cook on the grill pan, turning once, for 6 minutes.  Remove from the pan and layer 1 chicken piece with 2 mozzarella slices, another chicken piece and another mozzarella slice.  Repeat 3 more times to make 4 double-decker chicken stacks.  Tenant with foil for 1 minute to soften the mozzarella cheese.

3. Combine the arugula and basil.  Pile one quarter of the greens on each of the 4 bottom pieces of ciabatta.  Pile the chicken stacks on top, then cover with the barbecue sauce and bread tops.

Everyday with Rachel Ray, December 2009

This recipe is great for a quick, hearty dinner.  The size of the sandwich and abundance of sauce makes for a messy meal, but it’s definitely worth the napkin consumption.  I made this last night for my boyfriend and me so I only used two chicken breasts. I skipped the stacking of the chicken and cheese under Step 2 and simply melted the cheese on top of the chicken during the last few minutes of cooking.  The sandwich is messy enough with a single  layer – I’m not sure how one could eat a double-decker version.  I also used the fire-roasted tomatoes with green chiles from Trader Joe’s because they are always out of plain fire-roasted tomatoes, but I thought the chiles added a nice hint of spice to the peppery sauce.  I wouldn’t actually call this meal Italian or barbecue, more a mix of both with a dash of sloppy-joe American, but it certainly satisfies the best of both worlds.