February – Cauli-Rice ‘Risotto’ Pilaf

February – Cauli-Rice ‘Risotto’ Pilaf

Cauliflower 'risotto'

Cauliflower ‘risotto’

I seem to be hooked on a theme this last week. This time is a carb-friendly, keto-friendly version of risotto. Again you can’t really call it risotto, maybe it’s more like cauliflower cheese. Anyway you call it, it’s creamy, cheesy, and delicious.

Cauli-Rice Risotto

Cauli-Rice Risotto

I added a couple of handfuls of chopped baby spinach to up the nutrition and add some color.

I don’t really have a recipe as such for this, but here goes the general idea. I used a one pound package of fresh pre-riced cauliflower. I like the pre-riced ones because they have a high percentage of stem. That means that the ‘kernels’ both hold their shape and are firmer, more like an actual grain of rice.

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz package of pre-riced cauliflower.
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 5.2 oz package of boursin with garlic and fine herbs (or 5 oz of cream cheese with garlic and herbs)
  • 2 tablespoons of heavy cream
  • 2 large handfuls of baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • salt and pepper as needed

Method:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet (one that allows you to spread out the cauliflower) over medium high heat.
  2. Add the cauliflower and spread it out in a single layer if possible. Let it sit for a couple of minutes until the bottom starts to brown, then stir. You want it to start to crisp a bit.
  3. Add the cream cheese and stir until it melts, adding the heavy cream to thin things out if necessary.
  4. Stir in the spinach, letting it just wilt a bit before you take it off the stove
  5. Taste for salt and add freshly ground pepper.
  6. Immediately transfer to a warm serving dish.

Really, that’s it.

Cauliflower ‘risotto’

I haven’t tried this with frozen riced cauliflower. I imagine it would be softer to begin with and you may need to increase the heat in step 2 to get browning.

Last Dr’s appointment my blood pressure was a little too high so I have been cutting back on salt. To my surprise I have found that food doesn’t need to be salted as much as my usual habit. So, taste for salt first. The cheese, especially if you use boursin, is already salted.

I served this with a big selection of roasted vegetables. After roasting to a charred brown, the vegetables were drizzled with toasted pumpkin seed oil and sprinkled with roasted pumpkin seeds. We didn’t miss the meat.

Cauliflower risotto with roasted vegetables

Cauliflower risotto with roasted vegetables

Roasted Vegetables

Roasted Vegetables

February – Brown Rice ‘Risotto’ with Mushrooms in the Instant Pot

February – Brown Rice ‘Risotto’ with Mushrooms in the Instant Pot

Can you make a risotto with brown rice? Can you make it in the electric pressure cooker? And, if you do use brown rice and cook it in a pressure cooker, can you call it risotto? Those are all valid questions. I can answer numbers one and two. Yes, you can make a delicious risotto-like dish with brown rice. And yes, you can do it in the electric pressure cooker. As to the question of ‘is it really a risotto’, the answer is more complicated. If to you a risotto is arborio rice, hand-stirred over a hot stove dish with slow additions of broth, the answer is no. But, if you are after a healthy and creamy brown rice dish made hands-off in an electric pressure cooker, the answer is yes. It is risotto-like. I think I can legitimately call it that.

Amazingly I have heard (but not tried) making a risotto with short-grain brown rice in the traditional hand-stirred method. You need to stir at least double the amount of time for the starch to develop. It sounds very tiring; but possible. Let me know if any of you try it.

As I wrote in my previous post, Brown Rice Risotto with Edamame Beans and Spinach, (also made in the pressure cooker) 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. Hey Nutrition Lady has a recipe for a brown rice risotto made in the InstantPot on her site. This dish is a combination of the recipes above. I wanted to combine the inherent nuttiness of brown rice with mushrooms and some healthy green spinach.

Because there is no 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 the flavor is concentrated in the rice. Unsalted homemade chicken or vegetable is the best. I add 1/2 cup of white wine, cooked down until it is mostly evaporated once the onion and garlic are finished sautéing. The wine adds a depth of flavor to the dish when it’s concentrated but would taste harsh if it wasn’t cooked down almost completely. Trust your nose on this one.

For the mushroom ‘risotto’ I used both fresh and dried mushrooms. I presoaked the dried ones in hot water and used the mushroom stock as part of my liquid. It deepened and intensified the overall finished mushroom flavor.

You could easily convert this to a vegan version by using olive oil and a good quality or homemade vegetable stock.

I have bolded short-grain brown rice because I think it’s important. I am not sure this would work with basmati or another long-grain rice. Short grain is higher in starch.

Brown Rice ‘Risotto’

Ingredients:

6 small side dishes, 2-3 main

  • 1/2 cup of dried mushrooms, I used porcini (about 1/2 oz)
  • Boiling water to cover
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil plus 1 tablespoon of butter to saute the onions and garlic
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 chile de Arbol, crumbled
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or grated
  • 1/2 cup of dry white wine
  • 1- 1/2 cups of short-grain brown rice
  • 3 cups of liquid – mushroom soaking water (strained) plus chicken or vegetable broth

Fresh mushrooms:

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil or butter to saute the mushrooms
  • 2 cups of fresh mushrooms, trimmed and sliced (about 6 oz)

To Finish:

  • 2 ounces of baby spinach, roughly chopped (or peas, or blanched asparagus tips, or…)
  • 1/2 cup of freshly grated parmesan
  • optional pat of butter stirred in at the end

Method:

  1. Place the dried mushrooms in a small bowl and add hot (I used just boiled) water to cover. Leave for at least 20 minutes. Once soft, cut off any hard bits and chop into pieces about 1/2 inch in size.
  2. Using the saute setting, heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter.
  3. Add the onion and chile de Arbol. Saute for 5-10 minutes until the onions are turning golden brown then add the garlic and continue cooking for another minute.
  4. Add the rice and stir to combine, toasting the rice for about 1 minute.
  5. Add the wine and stir constantly until is mostly evaporated.
  6. Add the softened and chopped dried mushrooms.
  7. Hit cancel or stop to end the saute setting.
  8. Add the stock and mushroom soaking liquid, stir well, scraping the bottom of the pot to ensure there are no bits stuck to the bottom.
  9. Put on the lid and lock it in place, make sure the vent is set to sealing. Set it at high pressure for 24 minutes.
  10. When the cooking cycle is complete, allow the pressure to release naturally for 15 min, then quickly release.
  11. Remove the lid, add the second tablespoon of butter (if using) and stir for 1 – 2 minutes to create a creamy texture.
  12. Stir in the spinach, sautéed mushrooms, and parmesan.

If you are making this for company it will take about an hour total to cook, but most of it is hands off. You can saute the onion (or shallots) and garlic ahead of time. Same with the fresh mushrooms. Measure out all your ingredients. When you are ready, turn the machine back to saute and proceed with the recipe from step 4. The cooker will take about 15 minutes to reach full pressure once you turn that function on, then 24 minutes at high pressure, 15 minutes to release. It’s simply a matter of stirring and adding the spinach, fresh mushrooms and parmesan (plus an optional pat of butter) at the very end. Make sure you serve it in preheated bowls.

It isn’t a particularly beautiful dish, being mostly brown. The spinach helps. If you have some fried shallots you can sprinkle them on at the end for some textural interest, or some chopped parsley.

Brown Rice 'Risotto'

Brown Rice ‘Risotto’

It’s been ages since I joined the virtual blogging part over at Fiesta Friday hosted by Angie. It’s Fiesta Friday #470 and I think they will enjoy this time saving and healthy dish. Come on over to find posts on decorating, cooking and crafts. And consider adding your own post.

November – Roast Vegetable Salad with Horseradish Goat Cheese

November – Roast Vegetable Salad with Horseradish Goat Cheese

Roasted Vegetable Salad

Roasted Vegetable Salad

This is another recipe from salad freak.

salad freak

Salad Freak by Jess Damuck

I have found this book very inspiring, especially useful because I am not feeling very inspired in the kitchen these days. I seem to be there way too often since Covid hit. I served the salad as a side with a juicy steak off the grill, the horseradish goat cheese was a perfect match. This was also useful as a ‘clean out the fridge’ salad, you can use whatever is hanging out and needs to be roasted before the new week’s shopping. I found a small head of Romanesco cauliflower (or is it broccoli Romanesco?), some Brussels sprouts and carrots. With shallots and garlic cloves from the pantry it was a go. The original recipe adds fingerling potatoes. If you have some in your pantry or fridge, by all means add them. Just wash and cut them in half, no need to peel.

The important thing is to check the timing on the vegetables as some items may need longer or shorter times in the oven.

Broccoli Romanesco

Broccoli Romanesco

If you want some extra crunch, add toasted torn croutons. I find torn ones are much more interesting than ones cut into little squares. The craggy bits become that much more toasty.

Roasted Vegetable Salad with Horseradish Goat Cheese

Ingredients:

  • 2 bunches of small carrots, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half (quartered if very large)
  • 1 small head of Romanesco cauliflower or regular, separated into florets
  • 4 shallots, peeled and cut in half
  • 1 head of garlic, cloves separated and peeled
  • 1 tablespoon of jarred horseradish
  • 2 lemons
  • 5 ounces of fresh goat cheese at room temperature
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups of fresh chopped parsley or arugula

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F
  2. On a rimmed parchment lined baking sheet, toss the carrots with 2 tablespoon of oil and season with salt and pepper. Separate them so they are not touching.
  3. On a second parchment lined baking sheet, toss the Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, shallots, garlic and potatoes (if using) with another 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. They will roast to a toastier brown if cut side down.
  4. Roast the vegetables for about 25 minutes, then give them a toss. Roast for another 10 minutes until they are brown and crispy.
  5. Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool a bit.
  6. Make the horseradish goat cheese. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the horseradish with the goat cheese, the zest and juice of 1 lemon, salt and pepper. Blend until whipped and smooth.
  7. Spread the roasted vegetables on a platter, squeeze the other lemon over and taste. Add more olive oil, salt and pepper as needed. Scatter the parsley or arugula on top and dollop with the horseradish goat cheese. Alternately you can first spread the horseradish goat cheese on the platter and arrange the salad on top.
Roast Vegetable Salad with Horseradish Goat Cheese

Roast Vegetable Salad with Horseradish Goat Cheese

Roast Vegetable Salad with Horseradish Goat Cheese

Roast Vegetable Salad with Horseradish Goat Cheese

October – Health Food Salad

October – Health Food Salad

Health Food Salad

Health Food Salad

I am giving you a post Thanksgiving recipe today, a salad you may want to eat after the glorious overindulgence in traditional Thanksgiving sides and desserts. I know I will be serving it. You could even toss in some leftover turkey to make it a whole meal. I think the folks over at Fiesta Friday may want to tag it. Fiesta Friday is hosted by Angie, it’s Fiesta Friday #458 this week. Come on over and plan your menus for the holidays, decorate your home, or keep the kids busy with activities or baking.

This is another recipe from salad freak. You are going to be seeing more great recipes from this book. My version, as usual, has some changes as not all the ingredients were available. But it is definitely true to the spirit of the recipe. I added a small handful of shredded pecorino which was not in the book, leave it out for a vegan version.

Adding the cheese was inspired by a recipe in Molly Wizenberg’s book A Homemade Life. She has a very simple but delicious Red Cabbage Salad with Lemon and Black Pepper which couldn’t be easier. Here it is:

In a small bowl whisk together 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon of grated garlic, 1/8 teaspoon of kosher salt. Very finely (essential) shred about 1-1/2 lbs of cored red cabbage. Discard any with white cores. Toss the cabbage in a bowl with a large spoonful or two of the dressing. Add the Parmesan and toss again. Add a generous grind of fresh pepper. Taste and add more dressing or salt and pepper.

Anyway, on to the current version of this cabbage salad.

I used the fine blade of my food processor to shredd the cored cabbage, and the shredding blade for the carrots. You could certainly do this with a knife (a bread knife might be easier for the cabbage) and the large shredding side of a box grater.

Feel free to improvise here with whatever is in your fridge. Thinly sliced fennel would be good, celery as well.

Health Food Salad

Health Food Salad

Health Food Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 small head of red cabbage
  • 4 carrots, peeled
  • 2 large handfuls of sprouts, any kind you find. I used sunflower and pea shoots, but radish, lentils or alfalfa would all be fine.
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 cup of raisins (I used a mix of golden and black currents because of was out of the dark ones…much to my last minute surprise)
  • 1 cup of roasted shelled sunflower seeds (I think pumpkin seeds would also be delicious)
  • 1/4 cup of hemp seeds (I didn’t have any and left them out)
  • 1 tablespoon of poppy seeds
  • 1/2 cup of shredded Parmesan (leave out for a vegan version)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt

Method:

  1. Core the cabbage and shave it thinly into a large bowl. Grate the carrots into the same bowl.
  2. Toss in the sprouts, raisins, sunflower seeds, poppy seeds and hemp seeds, if using. Mix it all up and then add a large pinch of salt, a glug of olive oil and the juice of half the lemon. Taste and add more lemon juice, salt, Parmesan or olive oil if needed.

This salad keeps incredibly well and was still delicious the next night for dinner with some added rotisserie chicken.

Health Food Salad

Health Food Salad

From:

salad freak

Salad Freak by Jess Damuck

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