Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sunflower choke, baby squash, springtime risotto.
I love risotto.. and one of the first signs that the new oil-free, plant-based thing might just work out, was the fact that i could still cook risotto! Oil-less and cheese-less.. but magical none the less. This was the dish served last night before the avocado chocolate mousse that led to the blog!

Sunflower choke, baby squash, springtime risotto.

Serves 4 (pigmen and up to 6 civilized eaters)

2-3 Eschalots, finely diced
1 clove minced garlic
3-4 carrots, finely diced
3 celery stalks, finely diced
salt and pepper
1 1/2 c arborio rice
2/3 cup white wine
1 punnet button mushrooms/portabella mushrooms sliced thickly
8 cups vegetable broth
2 c water (a little less, a little more depending on the quality of the arborio, the heat of the stove etc.,)
1 handful of sunflower chokes, peeled and sliced
1 1/2 c baby squash (kept whole if they are tiny)
1 small bunch asparagus, finely sliced on the diagonal 
To serve:
zest of 1 lemon and a squeeze or two of juice
finely chopped parsley

Turn stove on to high heat. To a barely warmed large cast iron pot add the eschallot, garlic, carrot and celery with a good pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover briefly with the lid to create a little steam to help prevent sticking, then stir vigorously and add the arborio rice.
Stir to coat the grains with the oil-less vegetables and add the wine. 
Stir again and keep stirring. (Pull up a bar stool. Pour yourself a glass of wine.)
Once the wine is almost absorbed, but the mixture is still smooth and silky, add 2 cups of broth and stir.
And then add the mushrooms.
Another 1 1/2 cups of broth.
More stirring, more absorption.
Another 1 1/2 cups of broth.
More stirring, more absorption.
Add sunflower chokes and another cup of broth.
Once that's absorbed, add the baby squash and add the final 2 cups broth.
Start to test the arborio around this point to see how much more cooking and extra water you'll need. 
Always keep it smooth with enough liquid and easy to stir, don't let it stick.
Risotto is not meant to be mushy and overcooked rice goop - so go carefully, tasting and adjusting as necessary. Remember it keeps cooking in the cast iron pot once you've turned the stove off, so turn the heat off when it's still a little al dente (but god forbid not still raw).
Once you've turned off the heat, add the finely sliced asparagus and stir it through thoroughly, as it will cook through the heat of the risotto and once it's a vibrant green serve immediately with a little lemon zest, juice and a sprinkling of parsley!

This dish works well with a finely chopped crisp kale salad..

But enough for tonight. 

Cheers :)

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