Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Herbed Risotto

Some foods you think you love until you actually take the time to make them, then realize they are perhaps more trouble than they're worth. Other foods you stay away from in fear of the recipe, only to learn that it's quite simple.

This is the story of my past few days. Chris and I picked 22 pounds of cherries Saturday. I was so excited when I found the orchard where you could pick fresh! tart! cherries! I went crazy. We filled small boxes and dumped them into the flats, piling the red shiny orbs on top of one another.
The whole hour-long drive home, I daydreamed of my grandma's cherry jam! and cherry pie! and fresh cherries! that I would eat.

I did not realize how long it takes to pit 22 pounds of cherries.

I also didn't account for not having access to my grandma's cherry jam recipe. I went with Martha's. She may have great ideas for party decorations, but I now have serious doubts about her cooking skills. Let's just say the cherry jam did not so much work out. Now I have cherry tar. My enthusiasm for cherries has somewhat diminished.

Today, I was in search of a way to use up the rest of my CSA share from last week, when I found a recipe online in the New York Times Health section for herbed risotto.This week our CSA share was pretty light- we had a fennel bulb, sage, mint, chives, thyme and radishes. On Saturday I used the fennel and some sage in a pasta dish, but that left me with a ton of fresh herbs to use.

I haven't made a ton of risotto, but for some reason I always had the impression that it took forever to make. My previous attempts at risotto had been 1-2 hour fiascos and sometimes ended up crunchy.

But I was pretty excited to find something in which I could use up all of my herbs. And, this took probably 35-40 minutes total to make and it made for a nice satisfying way to use up those herbs. The taste is creamy, bright, interesting and the best part, a pretty purple color with bright green bits mixed in.

Purple and Green Risotto
adapted from Martha Rose Shulman for the New York Times

7 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup chopped red onion
2 cups finely chopped herbs (such as: sage, mint, thyme, chives, anise, basil, cilantro).
2 T olive oil
salt to taste
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 tsp chopped lemon zest
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
Start the chicken stock simmering while you gather the herbs and chop them up. Put them aside with one of the minced garlic cloves. Next, heat the olive oil in a pan and cook the onion until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and remaining garlic cloves. Cook until it starts to crackle and pop, a few more minutes. Add the wine and cook until it's absorbed. Next, ladle some of the simmering stock into the rice - about 1/2 cup at a time. The stock should just cover the rice and be bubbling. Cook about 20-25 minutes until rice is soft but has some bite. Take off the heat, then add the lemon zest, lemon juice, herbs and Parmesan cheese.

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