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Archive for May, 2010

First fruits of my labor

Asparagus:

Bell pepper:

Sweet Grand Marconi pepper:

Can’t wait to eat these guys. 🙂

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I’d been craving a good, creamy risotto for several days when I came across some pencil-thin asparagus on sale last weekend. I combined it in my risotto with fresh parsley, spring onions, and some other Local Box goodness, and I had a winner. I topped it with prosciutto that I tossed in the oven for a few minutes to crisp up, like bacon.

Now, risotto does require a bit of elbow grease in the form of near-constant stirring. You might break a sweat. I usually do. But the stirring is necessary to unlock the starches in the Arborio rice and give the risotto that telltale creamy texture, so just do what I do: put on some good music, pour a glass of wine, and sing along as you stir. It’ll go by before you know it. I promise.

Spring Risotto with Asparagus and Parsley

2 tbsp olive oil
1 bunch of spring onion bulbs, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 leek, thinly sliced
1 carrot, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 cup Arborio rice*
1/8 tsp saffron threads, crushed
3/4 cup white wine*
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 lb thin asparagus, bottom 1 1/2 inches removed, the rest cut into 1 in. pieces
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
4 oz thinly sliced prosciutto

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lay prosciutto slices on a greased cookie sheet and bake 7-8 minutes, until crisp. Set aside.

Heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, leek, and carrots, and cook 4 minutes or until tender. Meanwhile, bring broth to a simmer in a small saucepan and keep warm. Add rice and saffron to vegetable mixture; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir wine and cook 1 minute or until liquid is mostly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of stock is mostly absorbed before adding the next — this takes about 25 minutes total. When you’ve gone through about half of the stock, add the asparagus. When rice is cooked, remove from heat and stir in cheese, salt, and pepper. Top with parsley and crumbled prosciutto.

Makes about 4 servings.

*It’s important to use Arborio or another short-grain rice — don’t try to sub regular long-grain rice. It doesn’t have the starch necessary to produce a creamy texture.
*3/4 cup is about the amount in a picnic bottle of wine. I don’t like putting my drinking wine in my dishes (feels like a waste), so I buy the little four-packs of wine and use those instead. It’s much better than that salted “cooking” wine you buy in the vinegar section of the grocery store.

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I love me a good slaw. This one has extra crunch from both jicama and green apples, and a citrusy dressing provides just the right amount of tartness. You can find jicama by the potatoes in the grocery store, and it does kind of look like a russet potato. It has a very mild flavor, so it’s great for recipes like this where you just want something that adds a bit of crunch but doesn’t overpower the dish.

If you have a food processor, this recipe will come together in about 15 minutes. I use mine all the time, and you don’t need to go all Williams Sonoma and spend $500 on one. I’ve used my cheapo Black and Decker for about 10 years with no problems. I couldn’t find a link to mine online (like I said, it’s old) but this one is similar. If you don’t have a food processor, use the large holes on a box grater to shred the veggies.

Anyway, enjoy this slaw with grilled shrimp or grilled bbq tofu kebabs. Or pretty much anything else grilled. Heck, it was so good I just ate a big bowl of it as a snack.

Jicama, Apple, and Cabbage Slaw

2 cups shredded cabbage (I used green, but Napa is fine)
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and shredded
1 jicama, shredded (about 12 oz)
2 carrots, shredded
1/2 cup sliced spring onion tops (or green onions)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
Juice of two oranges (about 1/4 cup)
Juice of two limes (about 4 tbsp)
2 tbsp olive oil

Combine cabbage, apples, jicama, carrots and onion tops in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine. In a small bowl, combine orange juice, lime juice, and olive oil. Pour over veggies and toss to combine.

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Have y’all been there yet? Mason spotted it this morning while he and Ryan were out getting breakfast, so they came home to get me and we headed over. Holy crap. It might be bigger than the downtown Austin farmer’s market at Republic Square park, no joke. They had TONS of farms there — you could get produce, eggs, all kinds of meat, flowers, honey, beignets and pralines, Goodpops (this by itself makes the whole thing worth it — there aren’t many things better than a pineapple basil popsicle), and so much more. They even had musicians playing at a small stage in the front.

Anyway, wanted to give you a heads up to check it out if you get a chance. I just got a box of produce yesterday, but I picked up some home-grown tomatoes there. It opens at 9 am on Saturdays behind the Cinemark in the big shopping center on 1431.

ETA: Found their website.

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