Friday, July 30, 2010

Summer Garden Risotto

Use a medley of vegetables from the summer garden or your local Farmer’s Market to make this fresh veggie dish sparkle. In my house, this risotto reflects the daily harvest. Here is a standard version with red peppers, tomatoes, onions, and zucchini.


1 cup uncooked exotic rice blend
½ cup chopped onion
2 cloves crushed garlic
¾ cup finely chopped red peppers
2 cups finely chopped tomatoes
2 cups finely chopped zucchini
2-3 tbsp. olive oil
¼ cup dry red wine (e.g., a merlot)
5-6 cups soup stock (or hot water with a dissolved vegetable bouillon cube)
¼ tsp. black pepper
3 tbsp. fresh thyme
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
salt to taste


If you have some vegetarian soup stock set aside (or care to take the time to make some), use it in this recipe, otherwise warm the water and dissolve a vegetable bouillon cube in it. Chop the vegetables so that they are ready to go when you need them. The onions, garlic, and red peppers will be added together. The tomatoes and zucchini will be added later.

In a large deep dish frying pan, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Sauté the onions, garlic, and red peppers for a couple of minutes, stirring frequently. Add the rice and continue to sauté for another 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently so that all the rice is sautéed. I like to use a rice blend of long-grain brown rice, red rice, black rice, and wild rice. Next add the red wine and stir until it is all absorbed. Turn the heat down to a simmer.

Add the soup stock ½ a cup at a time, stirring frequently until the liquid is absorbed before adding another ½ cup. Keep adding stock (and stirring occasionally) for about 20 minutes, then add the tomatoes, zucchini, and herbs, except for the basil (save that out awhile longer). Continue to add soup stock and continue to cook (and stir occasionally) for another 20 minutes. Then add the basil.

Now it is up to your taste. The rice should remain a bit crunchy (not turn to mush), but just how crunchy depends on what you perceive as done or not done. You can continue cooking the risotto, adding small increments of water/stock for as long as it takes for the rice to reach your idea of “done.” Be careful not to add too much water/stock (you don’t want it soggy). Once you are satisfied with the rice, turn the risotto out into a casserole dish and add the Parmesan cheese, stirring it in well so that it melts throughout. The vegan version of this dish is, of course, without the cheese.

Other vegetables that go well in this dish are green beans, fresh corn cut off the cob, asparagus, peas, carrots (for a bit more sweetness), and green peppers. Mix and match for delightful variations.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!

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