Risotto with Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Risotto is one of my most favorite comfort foods; one I only discovered about four years ago. I’ve finally started to broaden my horizons and make versions other than my absolute favorite recipe. This one was on my meal plan for a few weeks, as I had some spinach and sun-dried tomatoes that I really needed to use up. But because risotto takes a lot of time – it’s not a meal that you can quickly cook – I kept bumping it further and further back. Finally, I found a little bit of free time to make this version of risotto – I’m very pleased with the result, and I also feel that Liz will be especially relieved that I finally made it!

Risotto with Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

adapted from My Favourite Pastime

  •  6-8 cups stock/broth
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 4 cups spinach, washed & shredded
  • 6 sundried tomatoes, drained and chopped (mine were vacuum sealed, not in oil)
  • ½ cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
  • salt & pepper
  1. In a saucepan, heat the olive oil & butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until they begin to soften.
  2. Add the garlic and rice and stir for about 2 minutes until it just starts to brown a little.
  3. Add the wine and reduce the heat. Stir constantly until the wine has been absorbed.
  4. Add a cup of your stock to the rice, and stir. When the rice has fully absorbed the liqud, add more stock – a little at a time.
  5. One all the stick has been absorbed, your right should be nice and soft, with a creamy texture. Add the spinach and tomatoes. Add salt & pepper to taste, then add the parmesan cheese. Toss into the rice, and serve hot.

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It’s a colorful meal, isn’t it?

I will absolutely make this again, especially once CSA season rolls around again and I have plenty of fresh chard & spinach. If you don’t like parmesan, you can always change the cheese to mozzarella – I think that would taste just as great. I also wonder what this would taste like with a little lemon zest. I ended up taking the leftovers for lunch; I honestly don’t mind leftover risotto, unlike someone else I know 😉

In the meantime, if you’re expecting yet another winter storm, I highly suggest putting this on the docket for dinner. It’s comforting, flavorful and warms you right up!

 

Baked Rice with Butternut Squash

I’ll confess: baking with squashes other than spaghetti squash intimidate me. I don’t know why; maybe there’s this subconscious worry that anything I make using it will make it taste, well…squashy. Kind of like the butternut squash soup I made awhile back. Ick.

I have some squashes leftover from my CSA that are juuuuust at the end of their shelf life, and need to be cooked up quickly, before they start to go to waste. This was one recipe that I found that utilized a butternut squash that I had, and I really enjoyed the end rest. It’s great for a chilly, snowy evening.

The rice that the recipe calls for is actually the risotto (Arborio) rice that many of you know and love. However, any type of short-grain rice will work, too.

Baked Rice with Butternut Squash – adapted from myrecipes.com

  • 1 butternut squash
  • 2 cups vegetable stock (chicken stock works okay too)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, or to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 350*. Place the squash (whole) on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes until tender. Let cool. Meanwhile turn the oven up to 400*.
  2. Peel the squash, & cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out the goop, and cut into 1/2 inch pieces.
  3. In a medium saucepan, bring the broth, water, and sage to a simmer (do not let it boil). Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. To the skillet, add the onion; sauté for about 5 minutes. Add garlic; sauté for about two minutes (be careful not to let it brown too much. Add rice& toast for about 1 minute. Stir in the squash, broth mixture, wine, chopped thyme, salt, and pepper. Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Coat a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray. Pour in the rice mixture. Bake for 30 minutes in the oven (already preheated at 400).
  6. Remove from oven & stir mixture gently. Sprinkle with cheese; bake an additional 5 minutes or until cheese melts.

 

Delicious. Savory. Not squashy.

Delicious. Savory. Not squashy.

This would also be a great dish to bring to a fall/winter potluck or family dinner. I served this with baked chicken; the leftovers reheated very well also.

One of the things that most impressed me with this recipe how you baked the squash before cutting it up. Before, I’d grab the sharpest knife in my house, say a prayer, and start hacking away at the gourd. Baking it will soften it up so that the knife will go through easily, and you’re less likely to cut off the tip of your thumb! 😉 If you ever are cooking with an entire squash again, try this technique!

I’m very pleased with how this turned out, and am glad that I finally found a successful recipe for butternut squash. It’s no longer a stranger lurking in my pantry, and I’m very confident that I can make other delicious dishes with it now.

Sage Risotto with Fresh Mozzarella & Prosciutto

Ah, risotto. So creamy, so delicious, so comforting. In my house, it’s a food filled with love.  If you ask my husband what meal I can make best, he will tell you that this is in the top 3. He may even tell you that this dish is #1. I think it depends on the day, though.

Making a good pot of risotto takes time – you need to make sure you make this on an evening where you are not doing anything other than cooking and relaxing. At least an hour, I’d say. This is not food that you can just set up and forget about – you have to stir the risotto constantly. You have to keep an eye on the heat as well, and not go any higher than a medium setting. Failure to do so will create a dish that is crunchy and undercooked – yuck! Trust me – the longer this dish takes to cook, the better it is. And for those who wish to use plain old white rice – don’t. Spend the extra dollar or two and get the Arborio rice. You will not be disappointed.

This past time that I made the dish, Mike insisted that I wait until it was a night where he was home to eat it ‘fresh’ and not as leftovers. In my humble opinion, however, the leftovers are just as good as the fresh pot.

While there are many different types of risotto recipes out there, this one is still my number one favorite. I love the combination of prosciutto and fresh mozzarella; while I am not the biggest sage fan, the sage in this recipe truly ‘makes’ the dish.

Sage Risotto with Fresh Mozzarella and Prosciutto – adapted from Cooking Light 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 carton less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 bunch green onions (used this time because I had no leek!)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/4 cups Arborio rice
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup white wine (I usually use pinot grigio)
  • 1 tbsp dried sage
  • 4 oz fresh mozzarella, finely chopped (about 1/2 a ball)
  • 4 slices prosicutto, chopped (I use scissors)
  1. In a medium/large saute pan, melt butter, over medium heat. Add leek & garlic; cook for about 3 minutes until the aromatics start to brown a little – make sure to stir frequently.
  2. Add rice, salt & pepper. Cook for a minute, stirring constantly. Add wine and stir until liquid is nearly absorbed.
  3. Add broth, about a 1/2 cup at a time, and stir frequently until addition of broth is absorbed, before you add more broth again. You know you are getting close to ‘the end’ when the rice is very puffy and the texture in the pan is creamy. Stir in sage.
  4. Remove risotto from heat. Stir in mozzarella and prosciutto. Serve right away.

Yum!

If you have the time and the patience, I highly recommend you try your hand at risotto. The ones you live with will love it, and if you live by yourself, the leftovers are worth it.