Temperature dropped here yesterday by a few degrees, and I longed for comfort food. I didn’t have much to work with: a head of cauliflower, a leftover carrot, a sad looking bell pepper, nothing substantial, I didn’t even have cheese to make mac n cheese. So I turned to a favorite – the trusty risotto.
Risotto, is more like a process than a recipe. You learn to make the basic risotto, and then you have a whole bunch of recipes in your repertoire. I start off my risotto with mirepoix (or well since it’s Italian, soffrito), saute, add rice, saute till translucent, add wine (if using), keep adding simmering stock in parts and stirring till the rice absorbs everything, and repeat. Just before the last installment of stock, add flavoring, herbage, cooked veggies, salt, pepper and finish off when rice is creamy and still has got a bite to it. Finish off with grated Parmesan if you want. That’s it. It is that simple! Rice to liquid ratio is usually 1 cup rice to 3-4 cups liquid.
Liquid usually is 1/2 cup white wine and remaining, stock. Homemade stock is the best, if store bought, but low sodium type. Rice must be a starchy short grain rice, preferably Arborio or Carnaroli or Vialone Nano. Do not rinse the rice too much, you need all the starchy goodness.
Armored with this method, we can make tens of different kinds of risotto! I made a roasted cauliflower risotto.
Cauliflower – 1/2 a small cauliflower, separate the florets, and cut the stems into a dice
Onion – 1 medium sized, diced
Carrot – 1 diced
Garlic – 2-3 cloves, minced
Short grained rice – 1 cup
Vegetable Stock – 4 cups
Thyme – 1 stem
Bay Leaves – 2
Salt and Pepper
Olive oil – 2 – 3 tablespoons
1. Roast the cauliflower florets on a cookie sheet with a bit of olive oil salt and pepper in a 400’F oven for 20 – 30 min. Turn them around once in the middle. (Don’t crowd the florets on the sheet).
2. Boil the stock and keep it on a gentle simmer.
3, Add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil on a heavy bottomed pan, saute onions, carrots and cauliflower stems (instead of the normal celery)
4. Add minced garlic, bay leaves and continue to cook for a minute.
5. Add the rice and saute till your kitchen is filled with a nutty aroma.
6. Add 1/3 of the simmering stock, and stir till the liquid is absorbed. Add the next 1/3 of stock and keep stirring often.
7. Add thyme leaves, and the roasted cauliflower florets, salt and pepper.
8. Add 1/2 of the remaining liquid. If the rice is creamy and al dente, remove off heat, top off with a sprinkle of lime or lemon zest.
1. Add cheese at the very end. Or better, at the table. Even better, forget cheese, the risotto is creamy enough.
2. Roasted asparagus, wild mushrooms, artichokes.. replace cauliflower with any vegetable that you have on hand.
3. Add salt at the end, because the stock has enough salt in it.