January – Brown Rice Risotto with Edamame Beans and Spinach

January – Brown Rice Risotto with Edamame Beans and Spinach

Can you make a risotto with brown rice? It was a challenge I set out to investigate. There are several recipes for baked rice out there, even baked brown rice. Ina Garten has an easy baked Parmesan “risotto” method which only requires a few minutes of stirring at the end. Her recipe is similar to America’s Test Kitchen’s baked brown rice. The blog Cookie + Kate combined the two in her recipe for baked brown rice risotto with mushrooms. That sounded delicious and I wanted to go one step further (faster?) and cook it in the electric pressure cooker. Over Christmas, a friend’s daughter made a more traditional risotto with arborio rice in the Instant Pot, it was creamy and everything you want a risotto to be. So here goes…

My inspiration came from a recipe in Suzanne Goin’s book Sunday Suppers at Lucques for shell bean risotto. Fresh shell beans weren’t available but frozen edamame beans are in most grocery stores. Her recipe also has a healthy dose of greens with the addition of chopped spinach.

Because you don’t get any evaporation in a pressure cooker, the quantity of stock has to be reduced. For each 1/2 cup of brown rice, 1 cup of stock should be used. And the quality of the stock is crucial since it gets concentrated in the rice, unsalted homemade is best. When added, the wine should be cooked until it mostly evaporates, otherwise the flavor will be too strong. Trust your nose on this one.

It would be easy to convert this to vegan by using only olive oil and a good quality or homemade vegetable stock.

Ingredients:

6 small side dishes, 2-3 main

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter (divided)
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons of thyme leaves, fresh (if using dried 1/2 teaspoon)
  • 1 chile de Arbol, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup of dry white wine
  • 1- 1/2 cups of short-grain brown rice
  • 3 cups of broth – I used chicken stock but vegetable would make it vegetarian
  • 1 cup of cooked edamame beans
  • 2 ounces of baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of flat-leaf parsley, chopped for garnish

Method:

  1. Using the saute setting, heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter.
  2. Add the onion, thyme, and chile de Arbol. Saute for 5-10 minutes until the onions are turning golden brown.
  3. Add the rice and stir to combine, toasting the rice for about 1 minute.
  4. Add the wine and stir constantly until is mostly evaporated.
  5. Hit cancel or stop to end the saute setting.
  6. Add the stock and stir well, scraping the bottom of the pot to ensure there are no bits stuck to the bottom.
  7. Put on the lid and lock it in place, make sure the vent is set to sealing. Set it to high pressure for 24 minutes.
  8. When the cooking cycle is complete, allow the pressure to release naturally for 15 min, then quickly release.
  9. Remove the lid, add the second tablespoon of butter and stir for 1 – 2 minutes to create a creamy texture.
  10. Stir in the beans, spinach, and parsley.

I served this with an oven-roasted boneless chicken thigh, a recipe to be posted. The risotto was supposed to serve 6 as a side dish. Don’t believe it, there were no seconds to be had. I would say 4 as a generous side dish, maybe 2 for a main dish with some leftovers. It all depends on the appetite and enthusiasm of your eaters.

Unfortunately, it was gobbled up before I had an opportunity to take any photos of the risotto itself.

It turned out creamy and delicious. Who could have guessed? The brown rice added a nutty fullness to the flavor. I think it would be even more delicious with mushrooms. A combination of dried (use the soaking liquid as part of the broth) and fresh (saute them and add them at the end) would be memorable. Stay tuned for next time.

October – Roasted Eggplant & Tomatoes with Miso-Tahini Sauce

October – Roasted Eggplant & Tomatoes with Miso-Tahini Sauce

This small plate elevates roasted vegetables to a new high. It could serve as a vegan main course if you tossed it with some brown rice or put it on top of a crisp pizza crust.

It’s also perfect as part of a tapas spread with flat bread, some dolmas, feta and olives.

Roasted Eggplant & Tomatoes with Miso-Tahini Sauce

Roasted Eggplant & Tomatoes with Miso-Tahini Sauce

End-of-season tomatoes or even out-of-season ones would be fine as they are roasted to concentrate their flavors. The miso-tahini sauce further enlivens the dish and would also be delicious on a baked sweet potato or butternut squash, or as a dressing for green or grain salads.

Serve this just out of the oven or at room temperature.

The recipe comes from the cookbook the Weekday Vegetarians by Jenny Rosenstrach. It’s a cookbook I recieved for Christmas this past year and have just started using more frequently.

the Weekday Vegetarians

the Weekday Vegetarians

Their premise is that, as a family, they agreed to be vegetarians during the week and only eat meat on the weekends. There are lots of interesting recipes most of which are very vegetable forward.

Roasted Eggplant & Tomatoes with Miso-Tahini Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds of small eggplants (if you can get Fairy Tale ones, those would be perfect…I couldn’t)
  • 1/2 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 8 Italian plum tomates or 10-12 smaller ones
  • freshly chopped flat leaf parsley for garnishing

Sauce:

  • 4 tablespoons of tahini
  • 2 teaspoons of white miso
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, or squeezed juice of 1/2 small one
  • 2 teaspoons of maple syrup
  • 3-6 tablespoons of water

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  2. Cut the eggplant into 1-inch-thick slices and toss them with the olive oil in a large bowl, add salt and pepper. If you manage to get smaller eggplants, cut them in half. Place them in a single layer on the parchment lined sheet pan.
  3. Cut the tomatoes in half (or quarters if large) and add them to the same bowl, coating them with the remaining oil. Nestle them between the eggplant slices.
  4. Bake on the lowest shelf of your oven for 20 minutes, then turn the eggplant slices and return the sheet pan to the center of the oven. Bake for an additional 10 to 20 minutes until the eggplant is browned and crispy and the tomatoes are shriveled. I removed the eggplant slices and returned the tomatoes to the oven for another 10 minutes as they needed more time.
  5. Meanwhile prepare the sauce. In a small bowl or jar combine the tahini, miso, lemon juice, maple syrup and 4 tablespoons of water. Whisk or shake the jar vigorously to combine, adding the additional 2 tablespoons of water to thin it if needed.
  6. Transfer the vegetables to a serving platter, drizzle with the tahini-miso sauce, top with choped parsley.

You can serve this warm or at room temperature.

Roasted Eggplant & Tomatoes with Miso-Tahini Sauce

Roasted Eggplant & Tomatoes with Miso-Tahini Sauce

Note: My tahini sauce was so thick it was impossible to measure. I processed it in a small food processor until it was smooth and pourable. That made it much easier to manage.

Roasted Eggplant & Tomatoes with Miso-Tahini Sauce

Roasted Eggplant & Tomatoes with Miso-Tahini Sauce

June – Cauliflower Cutlets with Arugula Salad

June – Cauliflower Cutlets with Arugula Salad

The inspiration for this cauliflower cutlet (or pancake or fritter) recipe came from G. Daniela Galarza at The Washington Post. As written it is vegetarian, gluten, and dairy free. I’ve modified it slightly, adding more seasoning and using fresh riced cauliflower rather than frozen. I will include instructions for both using both fresh and frozen cauliflower. I like the addition of some soft goat cheese but that is entirely optional, the original recipe did not call for it.

The ingredients are mostly pantry staples; rice or chickpea flour and frozen riced cauliflower. I’ve made them with both brown rice flour and chickpea flour. Chickpea flour produces a tender, meatier fritter; brown rice flour fries up crispier. These cutlets or patties or fritters make a perfect lunch dish out on the patio now the weather has warmed. Or make them for a light supper. Or as a side for a BBQ. Or simply put a poached egg on top and call them savory pancakes.

Leftovers are good the next day in a sandwich with some sharp mustard, lettuce and slices of summer tomato.

Cauliflower Cutlets with Arugula Salad

Cauliflower Cutlets with Arugula Salad

Ingredients for about 10 cutlets:

  • 1 (10 oz) package of frozen cauliflower rice or measure 10 oz of fresh cauliflower (about 1/3 of a large head), chop into chunks and pulse in your food processor until you have finely chopped bits or 10 oz of already riced cauliflower from the store.
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, grated
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely minced or grated
  • 3/4 cup (about 3-3/4 oz) of rice flour or (2-1/2 oz) of chickpea flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • optional: 1/2 cup of fresh goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 avocado or grape-seed or canola oil plus more if needed

Salad

  • I small cucumber, sliced or chopped
  • 1/2 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 4 radishes, sliced into coins
  • 1/2 can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 – 3 handfuls of arugula or mixed greens
  • 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons of wine vinegar or lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup of flavorful olive oil
  • kosher salt to taste
  • optional: chopped fresh parsley, crumbled fresh goat cheese

Method:

  1. Make the cauliflower cutlets: If using frozen – microwave the cauliflower on high for 3 minutes until partially steamed. If using fresh from a head – chop about 10 oz into chunks (about 1/3 of a large head) and process in your food processor until the texture of rice, steam in the microwave about 3 to 4 minutes on high. If using fresh already riced – Steam in the microwave for 3 – 4 minutes. In all cases, cool before using.
  2. Line a tray with a cooling rack or paper towels, set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until frothy. Whisk in the grated onion, garlic, rice or chickpea flour, salt, spices and goat cheese if using. Stir in the riced cauliflower.
  4. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat with 1/4 cup of oil. Add a large spoonful of the batter, spreading into an oval.
  5. Flatten into an even thickness and cook until the bottom is golden brown and small bubbles appear on the top. Gently flip and fry until the other side is golden brown.
  6. Remove to the tray to cool slightly.
  7. Repeat as needed until they all are cooked, adding more oil if needed.
  8. In a large salad bowl combine the dressing ingredients. Add the tomatoes, cucumber, garbanzo beans and radishes tossing to coat them with the dressing. Add the arugula and toss again.
  9. Serve the fritters warm, with the salad and optional goat cheese on top.
Cauliflower Cutlets with Arugula Salad

Cauliflower Cutlets

Cauliflower Cutlets with Arugula Salad

Cauliflower Cutlets with Arugula Salad

I am taking this dish to Fiesta Friday #383, hosted by Angie and cohosted this week by myself. Please come on by to read blogging posts about cooking, gardening and crafts.

April – Lamb and Almond Patties with Sumac Yogurt Sauce

April – Lamb and Almond Patties with Sumac Yogurt Sauce

Lamb and Almond Patties with Sumac Yogurt Sauce

Lamb and Almond Patties with Sumac Yogurt Sauce

This recipe is based on one from Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook Simple. Year’s ago when I first saw his books I thought they were a little esoteric. That has all changed with time. Ingredients like lemon grass, pistachios, rose harissa, good quality tahini and pomegranate molasses are more common in grocery stores. Sumac, urfa chili flakes, and za’atar can be found on-line or from better quality spice vendors. Recipes for making preserved lemons abound on the web and are superior to those purchased at stores. There are less obstacles to cooking from his books even in these days when shopping is more limited to places closer to home.

We are members of the Oakland speaker series which has, for the past year, been via Zoom because of the pandemic. Last month’s lecturers were Yotam and Samin Nosrat author of the cookbook Salt Fat Acid Heat. The show airs during our usual dinner time and I was inspired to make something from one of the books. Lamb and pistachio patties with sumac yogurt sauce jumped out at me (although I didn’t have any pistachios in the pantry). But an easy substitution would be almonds, and I had a wonderful new dairy free yogurt in the fridge to try…Nancy’s Oat Yogurt. The patties themselves didn’t contain any breadcrumbs so the dinner was both dairy and gluten free.

I could easily see these patties (made a little smaller) as part of tapas meal…or even as meatballs in a Moroccan styled tomato sauce. Or made larger and stuffed into a pita with the sauce and some summer sliced tomatoes. They will definitely become part of my regular retinue in some form or another.

Lamb and Almond Patties with Sumac Yogurt Sauce

Lamb and Almond Patties with Sumac Yogurt Sauce

It was fun to snack on these patties with the yogurt sauce while we listened to their take on the pandemic and how their lives have changed.

Ingredients:

For the sumac yogurt sauce:

  • 1 cup of Greek style yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon of sumac
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice

Method:

  1. Mix together all the ingredients for the sauce and keep in the fridge until needed.

To make the patties:

  • 1/2 cup of shelled pistachios (I used almonds, toasted for a few minutes in a dry skillet)
  • 1 1/4 cup arugula
  • 1 onion quartered
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 lb 2 oz (I used a lb.) of ground lamb
  • about 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Method:

  1. Toast the almonds if using and cool on a plate (not necessary if using pistachios)
  2. Put the nuts into the bowl of a food processor. Blitz for a few seconds to roughly chop, then put into a medium sized bowl. Add the arugula to the processor, blitz a few seconds to roughly chop, add to bowl with nuts. Continue with the onion and garlic, to form a smooth paste, and add to the bowl. Add the lamb, 1 tablespoon of oil, 2/4 tsp of salt, and a good grind of pepper. Mix to combine, then with wet hands from into about twenty patties. Each should be about 2 inches wide and 3/4 inch thick, weighing about 1 1/2 oz. You can make these ahead for a day, uncooked, or they can be made in advance and reheated through 5 minutes before serving.
  3. Put 1 tablespoon of the oil into a large nonstick pan and place on medium heat. Once hot, add the patties. You can add as many as possible without crowding. Cook for about 7 minutes total, turning halfway, until golden brown and cooked through. Repeat with the remaining patties, adding more oil if needed.
  4. When done, pile onto a platter with the sumac sauce. More arugula in a salad is a nice addition.
Lamb and Almond Patties with Sumac Yogurt Sauce

Lamb and Almond Patties with Sumac Yogurt Sauce

Next time I might add some chopped mint with the arugula, maybe some zested lemon as well. The lemon would play off the lemony flavored sumac in the sauce and also add a touch of brightness. I’ve also stocked up on pistachios. Try this one and let me know what you think. What adaptations did you need to make for your pantry?