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Posts Tagged ‘side dishes’

Winter Squash Risotto with Radicchio

After a few months with our butts parked here in wintry Buffalo, it’s that time again, we are hitting the road. We leave Saturday morning for Austin, Texas for the South by Southwest Music Festival and Flatstock 29! I love this trip not only because we drive down, and I love a good road trip, but we also get a great dose of some much-needed sunshine and warmer weather plus great music, hang outs with our good friends, good food and so much more. As with all of our trips, though they are an escape from the every day and a bit of a vacation in that sense, they are very much about work and business, so the weeks leading up require a lot of long days and nights of prep. We have to wrap up any client projects we have on deck and we also have to pack and restock all of our handmade goodies, print stuff, sew stuff, etc. I have been trying in these two weeks before, to make meals that require one day of prep and cooking but gives us many meals. I have made pasta Bolognese, vegetarian shepherd’s pie, italian sausage, white bean and escarole soup, slow cooked black beans for tacos and this risotto. It’s been great because we have a ton of leftovers and we’ve been able to just focus on work and when need be, take breaks, heat up some dinner and then get back to work. I love it. Home cooked meals are most important to me when life gets busy and stressful.

This risotto is a nice, hearty winter dish that is comforting, while being light. I love all the different flavors, a good quality vegetable broth in itself has so many layers of flavors, the sweetness from the squash really compliments the sharp bitterness from the little bit of radicchio and the creaminess from the milk and the cheese finish it all off, perfectly. The rich, creaminess from the squash really makes this risotto feel sinful, but you can enjoy it, guilt-free. We served it as our main dish but it is light enough to be a side-dish. If you don’t care for radicchio you could add in baby spinach instead.

Winter Squash Risotto with Radicchio
serves 6
adapted from Cooking Light Magazine

1 butternut squash (about 4 pounds)
6 cups organic low-sodium vegetable broth
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 1/2 cups sliced radicchio
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons organic butter
1 small onion, finely diced
1 1/2  cups uncooked Arborio rice or other short-grain rice
1/4  cup dry white wine (I didn’t have any so I used dry vermouth)
3 tablespoons organic half-and-half or whole milk
fresh ground black pepper
kosher salt
3/4 cup  (3 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Cut squash in half lengthwise; discard the seeds and membrane. Place squash halves, cut sides down, on a baking sheet; bake at 375° for 50 minutes or until squash is tender. Cool. Peel squash; mash pulp. Set aside 1 1/2 cups pulp, reserving remaining pulp for another use.

Bring vegetable broth to a simmer in a large saucepan. Keep warm over low heat. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat until hot in a large pan or dutch oven. Add radicchio; sauté 2 minutes or until wilted. Place radicchio in a bowl. Sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon each of pepper and salt, set aside. Melt butter in Dutch oven. Add onion; sauté 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Add rice; sauté 1 minute. Stir in wine and 1/2 cup broth mixture; cook 3 minutes or until the liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add 2 cups broth mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of liquid is absorbed before adding the next (about 15 minutes total). Stir in squash pulp. Repeat procedure with remaining 1 1/4 cups broth mixture (about 9 minutes total). Stir in radicchio mixture and half-and-half. Season to taste with black pepper and kosher salt. Remove from heat; stir in cheese. Sprinkle with a bit more cheese and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.

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Spicy Spaghetti with Fennel and Herbs

 

Yes, yet another pasta dish. I am a pasta-aholic, I can admit it. I cannot get enough of the stuff and I am always excited to try out new recipes. The possibilities really are endless and it’s rare that I meet a pasta dish that I don’t love. This recipe is no exception. I came across it a while back and couldn’t wait to try it with a few subtle changes. Even with the bacon and cheese, it is still very light and healthy pasta dish. See you can have your bacon and eat it, too!

The subtle crunch and bold flavor from the fennel is so wonderful and the heat from the chilies is what I live for in a spicy dish. The original recipe calls for red jalapeños, though I could only find green, I think the red would have really been nice for a pop of color. It also called for seeding the chilies, but I left them in, when I tasted the peppers while I was cutting they didn’t have too much heat, and I really wanted a good kick. It is rare that I find something to be too spicy. If you want a more subtle spice, certainly leave the seeds from the chilies out and you can always make it spicier at the end, if it needs it, by adding in some red pepper flakes. The recipe also called for adding in crushed fennel seeds untoasted, I felt like toasting the whole seeds first would give a much better flavor by releasing it during toasting, not only did it taste great, the house smell amazing. Additionally, the original recipe called for pancetta instead of bacon. Since we buy all of our pork from Sojourner Farms, a local pasture-raised farm, I decided to use some of the delicious bacon that we purchased from them, instead. I would advise not to substitute dried herbs for the fresh stuff in this dish, it would surely be missed. It is also important to use a low-sodium broth, as you will reduce the broth down and you will also be getting some salt from the bacon (or pancetta), you can always add more salt to taste, before serving. I am a big fan of using the pasta water to thicken and bring back liquid to a pasta dish, just go slow so you don’t add too much, but don’t leave this step out, it can make or break a dish without sauce, like this one. Obviously, I also changed the original recipe by substituting gluten-free spaghetti, if you aren’t gluten-free you can use whatever your favorite pasta is, a nice whole-wheat spaghetti would be great, I am sure.

If you wanted to make this vegetarian you could easily leave out the bacon and use a vegetable broth instead of chicken, you may just want to add in a bit more fresh herbs to bump up the flavors. It would still be very tasty and hearty.

 

Spicy Spaghetti with Fennel and Herbs
serves 8
Adapted from Bon Appétit Magazine

6 slices of farm fresh local, pasture raised bacon, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 large jalapeño chiles, finely chopped – remove seeds if you want less heat
2 large fennel bulbs, stalks trimmed, cut into thin wedges with some core attached
1 1/2 cups low-salt organic free-range chicken broth
4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley, divided
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
11/2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 pound gluten-free organic brown rice spaghetti (or whatever your favorite pasta is, gluten-free or not)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups finely grated Pecorino Romano or Pecorino Toscano cheese, divided

Toast the fennel seeds in a large dry skillet over high heat, until slightly brown and fragrant. Remove the seeds and set aside. Sauté bacon in the same large skillet over medium heat until golden and a bit crispy. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels and set aside. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the bacon drippings in skillet. Add garlic and chiles; sauté over medium heat 1 minute. Add the fresh fennel; cook until beginning to soften, 5 minutes. Mix in broth, 2 tablespoons parsley, lemon juice, and the toasted fennel seeds. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until fennel is very tender, 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cook pasta until tender; drain. Reserve 1 cup cooking liquid. Transfer pasta back to the pot or a large serving bowl.
Uncover skillet with fennel mixture and return to high heat. Cook until almost all liquid is absorbed, about 4 minutes. Add fennel to pasta. Stir in 2 tablespoons oil, 1/2 cup cheese, and pancetta. Add cooking liquid by 1/4 cupfuls if it’s too dry. Toss pasta; transfer to serving bowl if it was in a pot. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons parsley over. Serve with cheese.

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Citrus Quinoa Salad with Toasted Almonds

 

I have sung quinoa’s praises many, many times on this blog, so I think you know by now how I feel about it. It really is a super food and incredibly versatile. This salad caught my eye while I was searching the web last week, looking at recipes. I couldn’t wait to make it as a side for dinner and to enjoy the leftovers throughout the week for lunch. I ended up doubling the recipe so we had extra for leftovers.

This salad has a bright and sunny taste to it and it was the perfect side with the grilled pork steaks from Sojourner Farms that we were making. It was even more perfect being that it finally warmed up a bit here. It was a balmy 42º when we were getting ready to start dinner last night and rather than heating up the oven and cooking inside, we decided it would be the perfect night to fire up the grill. Honestly, it felt a bit like a heat-wave, it has been such a brutal and frigid winter here. I am actually calling “Uncle” on the 2010/11 Winter season, officially here and now! I am done, I want to see the sun, some lovely flower buds and the beautiful green grass and trees. We have been buried since early December in so many feet of snow. Don’t get me wrong, I love the snow and I still, after all these years of living here, get excited with each and every flake that falls and even the major storms, but this year I have hit my limit. Thankfully Spring is just around the corner and with the Spring comes more green and more fresh produce, which I am equally missing.

Oranges and other citrus are in season right now, but I have never been a big orange eater. However, I have been trying out different types of oranges and tangerines and I am liking them more each time, I particularly like them in dishes instead of just plain. The tangerines in this salad were perfectly juicy and sweet but not too overpowering. You could certainly use your citrus of choice, oranges would be just as good. The fresh scallions and parsley were both perfect, I changed the original recipe a bit by adding garlic and adding a bit more sriracha, since I like spicy, though even with increasing the sriracha it was still a very subtle spiciness, not intense by any stretch of the imagination. This salad is best served room temperature and it was perfect with the grilled pork and green beans with pine nuts that I also made. This salad was great as a side, but would also be great as the main dish or an appetizer. Additionally, it would be a nice vegan dish to bring to a party. If you double the recipe as I did, just top each individual serving with the toasted almonds and keep them on the side, this way they won’t lose that lovely crunch by sitting in the fridge with the salad. Just top each serving individually as you serve them.

Citrus Quinoa Salad with Toasted Almonds
Serves 4
adapted from Cooking with Amy

1 tangerine, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks (remove as much of the membranes as you can)
1 cup organic quinoa, rinsed well
1 3/4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for serving
1/2 lemon, preferably organic
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium scallions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons Italian parsley, minced
1/2 tablespoon sriracha, or more to taste
2 tablespoons thinly sliced toasted almonds

Toast your almond slices ahead of time and set aside.

Rinse the quinoa thoroughly, then toast it in a dry medium saucepan, over medium heat for a few minutes until it is fragrant.

Add the water and salt to the quinoa, and bring to a boil over a high heat. Cover and reduce the heat to medium, and simmer until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Spread the quinoa out on a baking sheet to cool to room temperature quicker, while you prepare the salad.

Before cutting the lemon, finely grate the zest and then squeeze the juice into a large serving bowl. Add the olive oil, garlic, scallions, parsley and sriracha. Once the quinoa has cooled and is room temperature add in the quinoa and tangerine pieces, season to taste with salt and top with almonds and a bit of fresh parsley just before serving.

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