Here’s another great way to use those beautiful and nutritious beet greens. Serve with a side of beets. I tend to shy away from precise cooking times on this dish. Times can vary depending on the brand of rice and type of broth you’re using. If you’re new to making risotto, please visit this helpful site to make sure you cook the perfect dish http://lifehacker.com/5890864/use-the-smear-test-for-perfectly-cooked-risotto
Chef’s tip: Homemade broth is best but if you do not have access to a quality, flavorful broth you can add fresh oregano and/or basil to help kick the dish up a notch.
Prepare all of the following risotto ingredients. Grate 1 cup of cheese. Finely mince your shallot and set aside. Smash and chop your garlic cloves and set aside. Chop up your beet greens and set aside.
For your vegetable broth, place in a separate stock pot and heat to a medium temperature. This is a key step and remember to always keep your broth at the same temperature that you cook your rice.
In a large saute pan (preferably something with a thick bottom so you don’t burn the rice) heat your butter and olive oil on medium/low heat. Using a really good quality butter will make a huge difference in how your risotto tastes (in my personal opinion) so stick with a good pasture butter like Kerrygold, Organic Valley or some nice homemade butter from your local farm.
Add your rice and minced shallots and cook (stirring frequently) until the rice is transparent and very lightly toasted. This should take around 3-4 minutes.
Now we add the wine and chopped garlic and red peppers. Gently stir the rice, wine and garlic until the wine is well absorbed by the rice.
At this point, we begin adding the broth. TWO ladles at a time. Add two ladles of broth and STIR your risotto constantly until the broth has been absorbed. Once that happens, you can add two more ladles of broth and repeat. Risotto is made by adding broth slowly over a period of time. Adding too much liquid at one time can make your risotto turn out runny and that's something Gordon Ramsey yells at people for. Yikes!
Now here’s the tricky part. Just because we have 8 cups of broth in that separate pan does not mean you’ll always use up the entire pot of broth. It’s always good to have a little too much broth leftover than not enough broth when you’re cooking this dish. Good judgement comes into play at this stage. As you’re stirring (you didn’t forget the part about stirring constantly right?) give your risotto a little taste. How close is it to being al dente? What the heck does al dente mean? This is where we use the smear test. (visit the lifehacker link provided above)
When your rice is CLOSE to al dente, add your chopped beet greens and continue to stir. It should take a few more minutes until you're close to being done.
Once your rice is AL DENTE, remove from the heat and add your cheese. Stirring well until all of the cheese has melted and is incorporated into the dish. Add salt and pepper to taste The final product should look creamy and firm but not runny. Enjoy!
After debating on what to cook the Italian Parsley in, I went with most decadent and classic option… Carbonara. Easy right? Eggs, noodles, guanciale (or a similar substitute such as pancetta or bacon) and cheese topped with some parsley. Carbonara is one of those things that rely on quality ingredients. First things first. The meat. Most traditional recipes call for something called guanciale, which is a cured meat taken from pork jowls or cheeks (yikes). This ingredient can be a bit tricky to find and if you can’t seem to get your hands on some, you can also use pancetta or a quality cut of bacon. I wasn’t able to get ahold of any guanciale or pancetta so I used bacon in my dish below. Luckily, we have our own chickens so the eggs were taken care of. Going with a nice pastured egg will give you a nice creamy and rich sauce. As for the cheese, find a quality Parmigiano-Reggiano and IF you can get your hands on any Pecorino (A hard Italian cheese made from sheep’s milk) it will make your carbonara taste like a million bucks. I also stick with a dry spaghetti noodle.
Now onto the topic of technique. If done wrong, you can wind up with scrambled eggs and noodles which isn’t exactly a good thing. I do suggest getting your eggs to room temperature before adding them to you dish. I always crack mine into a bowl and let them while I prepare everything else. When you’re at the stage of adding your egg mixture, always always always add to a pan that has been removed from the heat. Otherwise you’ll be eating scrambled eggs for dinner. Now, onto the recipe.
Bring a large pot of salted water bring to a boil.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, Pecorino and Parmesan. Set Aside.
Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until a bit firmer than al dente. Strain in a colander and toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and set aside. *** RESERVE 1 cup of the pasta water ***
While the pasta is cooking, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add your bacon (or guanciale or pancetta) and cook until the fat has rendered and the meat is crispy. Add half of the reserved pasta water to the pan.
Toss in the spaghetti and agitate the pan over the heat for about one minute.
REMOVE the pan from the heat and add the egg and cheese mixture. Stir quickly until your eggs thicken. The residual heat will cook the eggs. Continue to stir quickly to keep your eggs from scrambling. If your sauce seems a little too thick, add some more of the reserved pasta water.
Toss with minced parsley and season with fresh ground black pepper. Add salt if needed (the cured meat should be salty enough on it's own to season the dish).
Serve and top with a little grated Pecorino. Enjoy!
When I saw the yellow chard in my CSA box this week, I immediately thought of soup. Everyone in my house has been sick except for me (knock on wood) so making a quick soup sounded like a good idea. This soup can be made spicy or mild but I do implore the use of some quality spicy Italian sausage. If you’re a local here in western Washington, I suggest using some sausage from Heritage Meat here in Rochester or at your local Co-Op. I absolutely LOVE their seasoning and it works great in this soup (and my Mother-in-law’s famous meatballs)
The soup is reminiscent of a soup that shall remain nameless from Olive Garden but with a few more ingredients and some home cooked lovin’. The zucchini from this week’s box made a nice final addition to the recipe! Enjoy!
In a large stockpot, brown your sausage and onions over medium heat.
Once your sausage is brown and your onions have cooked, add the garlic and cook for about 2 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the white wine and scape up any little bits that are stuck to the pan.
Add chicken broth, the minced and roasted red bell pepper, potatoes, thyme, red pepper flakes and pepper. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for about 10 minutes or until your potatoes are FIRM but cooked.
Once your potatoes are firm (but cooked) add your heavy cream, swiss chard and zucchini. Now, cook the soup for another minute or two. I prefer my zucchini pretty firm so I like to add them at the very end with the chard and cream. If you like them softer, add them a little sooner!
Add salt to taste (if needed). I generally do not need salt, it all depends on the broth you used in the soup!