Day 30 of the pandemic means that I cook very differently than I used to.
April normally means bringing home fresh picked asparagus from the Farmers Market to make asparagus risotto. Now, instead of going to the market or the grocery store, I try to rely on my freezer, my pantry, and my ingenuity.
I had fresh organic baby spinach and tomatoes . . . but really didn’t want to just have another salad for dinner.
I also had a red onion that hadn’t yet gone bad, some Arborio rice, a can of artichoke hearts, and some homemade stock we made from potato peels and aging vegetables that were too sad to eat on their own.
This had the makings of a decent dinner!
(In addition to relying on my pantry . . . I also need to rely on my wonderful husband to help me chop veggies because I am still recovering from hand surgery to repair a broken wrist sustained from a fall during our March trip to New Zealand.)
Make sure you thoroughly rinse both your Arborio rice . . .
. . . and your artichoke hearts.
Sauté the red onion and garlic, and then add the rinsed Arborio rice . . .
Some leftover white wine went into the pan, followed by ladlefuls of hot stock – then I added the artichoke hearts and chopped spinach . . .
When the rice was cooked al dente (yes, slightly firm to the bite – just like pasta), I added the mint, basil, and parsley that my thoughtful hubby had minced . . .
. . . followed by cored, seeded, and chopped tomatoes, a bit of unsalted butter, and grated Parmesan.
Maybe we were just famished, but it was so surprisingly good, that it almost made me forget about the asparagus risotto that I originally craved.
And, because we are trying to use every scrap of food before we venture again to the grocery store, we used the leftover risotto as a base for a baked egg dish for our Sunday brunch.
Just grease a small baking dish, add the leftover cold risotto, and make a nest for an egg or two. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes (based on the size of your eggs and how you like them cooked). I served ours with some (slightly) freezer burned vegetarian sausage patties, and the rest of a previous meal’s baguette sliced into rounds and toasted in the oven.
It wasn’t a fancy brunch, but it was healthy, tasty, and filling.
In these challenging times, it brightened my spirits to know that I essentially made two meals out of my pantry, fridge, and freezer, and kept my hubby from going out to the grocery store.
I hope you and your families are practicing social distancing, and staying healthy and safe. Let’s all make do with what we happen to have on hand and minimize any trips to the stores until we have flattened the curve and it is safe for us to cut back on our social distancing.
- 5 cups vegetable stock (canned or your own home made stock from potato peels and veggie scraps)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided use
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 red onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
- Salt and pepper
- 1¼ cups Arborio rice, rinsed
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, rinsed and quartered (or chopped if you prefer)
- 3-4 cups cups organic baby spinach, cut into slivers or chopped
- 3 organic tomatoes, cored, seeded, and chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil, torn into small pieces
- Freshly grated Parmesan
- Heat the stock in a saucepan and keep warm over low heat.
- Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet and add the olive oil. Sauté the red onion over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, followed by the garlic, salt and pepper. Sauté for another minute or so.
- Add the rinsed Arborio rice and sauté for 2 minutes.
- Add the white wine, and sauté until all the wine has evaporated.
- Add about a cup of the hot stock, and continue to stir.
- When the first cup of stock has been absorbed by the rice, add the rinsed and quartered (or chopped) artichoke hearts.
- Continue to slowly add stock, allowing each cup to be absorbed by the rice. When you are down to about one cup of stock, taste the rice and see how close to al dente it is.
- Add the spinach and the last cup of stock. Stir until most of the stock is absorbed but the risotto is still fairly "saucy." (If you run out of stock before this stage, you can add a use some boiled water to continue to cook the rice without harming the flavor.)
- Add the chopped tomatoes and the herbs, and cook over low hear until the rice is al dente (firm to the bite, but cooked through). Stir in some grated parmesan and the last tablespoon of unsalted butter, and season with a little more salt and pepper.
- Serve with a modest (or ample) sprinkling of Parmesan - depending on your taste and how much you have left of the wedge in your fridge!
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