Asparagus, Kale, and Mushroom Brown Rice “Risotto”

veggie risotto blog

This past weekend was filled with a few more meals eaten out than usual. Meals of the slim-on-vegetables variety. While I enjoyed what I ate, I was ready for lighter fare. I opted to break out my brown rice, and load it up with all the fresh spring vegetables I could find. Which, after my Saturday trip to the farmer’s market, was quite a lot. I’m notorious for buying every pretty thing I see at the market, and then wondering how in the world I will manage to eat it all before it goes bad.

I don’t cook with brown rice all that often. I like it – especially short-grain – but frankly, I often feel like the 40-45 minute cook time is too long. Which is funny, because honestly, making dinner usually takes me at least that long, once you factor in the dishes I am doing beforehand (from our lunches taken to work) and all. If I simply throw the rice on the stove to cook first thing, then tend to the dishes and the rest of the prep for this dish, it honestly doesn’t take any “extra time” at all. Dinner still happened at “normal” time. It was well worth it.

I mean, check out that result. The brown rice is nutty and slightly chewy, and holds up perfectly to this “risotto” style dish. With a ton of vegetables, and just a splash of cream to tie it together, it’s light and flavorful, and fresh, and plenty filling enough to be considered a main dish if you choose. And while it does have some dairy, it’s easily made dairy-free and/or vegan with a few simple swaps.

So go ahead – go gangbusters at the farmer’s market! Throw caution to the wind! Grab all the fresh green veggies that catch your eye. Throw them all together in this risotto, and you’ll be sure they’ll be enjoyed, rather than ending up sad and forgotten in the crisper. You won’t be sorry.

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Asparagus, Kale, and Mushroom Brown Rice “Risotto” (gluten-free, vegan-adaptable)

2 1/4 c stock (chicken or vegetable)

1 c short-grain brown rice

2 T butter or olive oil

4 oz crimini mushrooms, quartered (or cut into eighths if they are large)

1 green onion, minced

1 small head green garlic, minced (can use 2 cloves of regular garlic if you don’t have green garlic)

1 t fresh thyme leaves, chopped

1/2 c white wine

8 oz asparagus spears, cut into 1/2-inch lengths

8 oz frozen peas, thawed

1 c chopped fresh kale (I used Red Russian, but you can use any variety)

Salt and pepper to taste

1 T butter or olive oil

1 T cream (can use almond, soy, or coconut milk for vegan)

2-3 T shaved parmesan (omit for vegan)

1/4 c fresh parsley, chopped

In a medium saucepan, bring the stock to a boil. Add rice and reduce to a simmer. Cover and allow to cook for 40-45 minutes or until cooked through.

Heat a large skillet to medium heat. Add butter/olive and allow to heat for a minute. Add the mushrooms and sauté until tender, stirring occasionally, about 3-4 minutes. Add the green onion, garlic, and thyme leaves and sauté an additional minute or until fragrant. Add the white wine and cook, stirring occasionally, until the wine has evaporated. Add the asparagus, peas, and kale and sauté for a minute or until the asparagus is bright green and heated through.

Add the rice and stir in, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Finally, stir in the butter/olive oil and cream. Serve, topped with parmesan and fresh parsley.

Serves 4.

 

Arroz Con Pollo

arroz con pollo

Somehow, it seems that I never managed to make arroz con pollo. It just never appeared on the “to do” list. Obviously, this was a terrible oversight on my part. Now that I’ve made it, I’m not quite sure how I got by without it all these years.

I realized that I’d made this oversight this past week, (Okay, so I was watching Top Chef and one of the chefs made Spanish arroz con pollo. Top Chef is one of my guilty pleasures.) and started to research recipes. I looked at Spanish versions, Cuban versions, and all sorts of other variations. Some recipes called for a ton of peppers, some, none at all. Some called for long grain rice, others, short-grain. Some used saffron, some annatto, and some turmeric. A few versions called for olives, and I even came across a recipe that used beer. After my research, I then decided to compile snippets of each recipe and make my own. It leans towards Cuban, but I won’t attest to its authenticity, as I’m not Cuban and have not had the pleasure of enjoying any Cuban food other than what has come out of my own kitchen. (Someone should really help me rectify this…are there any good Cuban restaurants in Dallas? Can someone fly me somewhere where there are good Cuban restaurants, please?) But regardless of origin, it was a hit with my husband and me. We ate until our bellies were full, enamored by the flavorful, slightly sticky Valencia rice with its aroma of saffron and tomato. The chicken was tender and echoed the same flavors as the rice. The jarred roasted red peppers added a perfect piquant punch that complemented the creamy, sticky rice.

Comfort food at its finest. We’ll be having this again, I promise!

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Arroz con Pollo (gluten-free, dairy-free)

1 3-4 lb chicken, cut into 8 parts

1 t dried oregano

1 t ground cumin

1/2 t black pepper

3/4 t kosher salt

1 T red wine vinegar

2 T olive or coconut oil

1 c finely chopped onion

1/2 c red bell pepper, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 c tomato puree

1 c white wine

3 c chicken stock

1/4 t saffron threads

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 lb Valencia or other short-grain rice (Arborio is an acceptable substitute)

1 c frozen green peas, thawed

Jarred roasted red peppers, for garnish (optional)

Blot the chicken dry with paper towels. Toss the chicken in a large bowl with the oregano, cumin, pepper, salt, and red wine vinegar. Allow to marinate for 15 minutes.

Heat the oil to medium-high heat in a large Dutch oven or other casserole dish. Brown chicken pieces all over, 2-3 minutes per side. (I did this in batches) Set chicken aside on a platter.

Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic to the remaining oil in the Dutch oven, and cook over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Add the tomato puree and cook for another minute. Add back the chicken, wine, chicken stock, and saffron. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cover and allow to simmer for about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the rice in a fine-meshed strainer and rinse until water runs clear. Drain. When the chicken has simmered for 25 minutes, add the rice and stir in. Bring to a boil again and reduce to a simmer, cover, and allow to cook until rice is tender, about 20 minutes. (If you peek in on it and it seems too dry, you can add a bit of water and stir.) When it’s just about finished, stir in the peas.

Garnish with roasted red peppers and serve.

Serves 4-6.

 

Vietnamese Shrimp Summer Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce

Before I went gluten-free, I would often treat myself to Vietnamese for lunch. A gigantic bowl of steaming pho and summer rolls could turn even the most difficult of days into a better one. There is something just so satisfying to me about the bold, in-your-face flavors of those two dishes. They’re addictive, but in a good way.

But after going gluten-free, I’ve had trouble finding a good pho shop. While many ingredients in both pho and summer rolls are gluten-free, there are still a lot of hurdles. The hoisin sauce often used in the pho is full of gluten. Who knows how they prepared the broth. And while most rice noodles are indeed made with just rice, some aren’t. So I usually opt to make my own.

Summer rolls, or salad rolls, are a fresh roll consisting of an assortment of vegetables, rice vermicelli, and possibly a meat or seafood, all wrapped up in rice paper, and served cold or at room temperature. They’re not deep fried like egg rolls. Not sure how they arrived at the name “summer roll”, but it fits – they are so perfect for a hot summer day. I could eat tons of them.  Like I said, they’re addictive.

These rolls take a bit of preparation, but once you have all of the ingredients ready, they’re fairly simple to assemble. And they keep well for a day or two, which is a nice bonus. They might keep longer, but I wouldn’t know – I’ve never had them last that long!

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Vietnamese Shrimp Summer Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce (gluten-free, dairy-free)

For the rolls:

1/2 t fish sauce (can use gluten-free soy sauce instead)

1/2 t fresh lemongrass (can use lime zest instead)

Salt and pepper to taste

1 T olive oil

8 oz medium-sized shrimp, peeled and deveined

6 oz dried rice vermicelli

16-18 round rice papers

1 head of green leaf lettuce, leaves separated and torn into 2-3 inch pieces

1 c julienned carrots

1 c julienned red bell pepper

1 c julienned cucumber

1 c julienned daikon radish

1 mango, cut into thin slivers

18-24 each mint leaves and basil leaves, or substitute with Thai basil, if you can find it

For the dipping sauce:

1 t olive oil

3 garlic cloves, minced finely

3 T gluten-free soy sauce

1 T honey

1 T chili garlic sauce

1/4 c creamy peanut butter

1/4 c water

In a medium bowl, whisk together the fish sauce, grated lemongrass, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the shrimp and stir to coat. Marinate the shrimp for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, boil a large pot of water. Remove from heat, add the rice vermicelli and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain again. Set aside.

Heat a large skillet to medium-high heat and add olive oil, swirling to coat. Cook the shrimp in a single layer on the skillet for about 2 minutes, flip, and cook until shrimp is cooked through and pink, another 3 minutes or so. Remove and allow to cool a bit. When cool enough to handle, slice the shrimp through down the middle of its back.

Place about 1 inch of room temperature water in a large baking dish. Get all of your ingredients ready for assembly. Dip a rice paper in the water for about 2 seconds. Lift and allow water to drip off. Place on a clean, dry work surface. Blot off the top with a paper towel. (You’ll want to blot your work surface in between rolls as well)

Lay 3-4 halves of the shrimp in a line near the bottom third of the rice paper. Top with a leaf of lettuce, vermicelli, and the veggies and mango, topping with a mint leaf and basil leaf or two. Starting with the side closest to you, roll the roll tight, tucking the sides in periodically as you go, stopping halfway to tug back on the roll to tighten. Once rolled up, the paper will seal onto itself. Transfer roll to a platter and cover with plastic wrap to prevent drying. Repeat this process with the remaining ingredients.

For the dipping sauce, heat a small saucepan over medium heat and add oil and garlic. Saute for a minute or until fragrant. Add the remaining ingredients, stirring well, until warm. If the sauce is too thick, add more water.

Makes about 4 servings.

Seared Sea Scallops with Lemon Herb Risotto

Risotto, to me, is an ultimate comfort food. It’s creamy, starchy, and warm – all attributes of comfort food in most people’s minds. And while this version is gluten and dairy-free, and relatively low in undesirables as far as healthfulness is concerned (it’s not comprised of processed foods and has a moderate amount of healthy fat), it’s still on the “special occasion” list for me, as it is a less-healthy grain than say, brown rice. That being said, this is deliciously indulgent without wrecking your waistline. And with the bright flavors of lemon and fresh herbs, it’s also a lovely dish for spring.

I originally found a lemon risotto over at What’s For Lunch Honey, and this recipe is based off of Meeta’s. Of course, I adjusted to my needs and what I had on hand, much to our delight as we sat down for dinner the other night. With a few seared scallops to top our risotto, suddenly, all was right with the world. We slowed to savor each bite – the scallops were so unbelievably sweet, which elevated the sunny notes in the risotto. It was a comfort dish for sure, but a lighter version – one that definitely welcomes spring.

Seared Sea Scallops with Lemon Herb Risotto, inspired by What’s For Lunch, Honey

1 quart of chicken or vegetable stock

2 T olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped finely

3 garlic cloves, minced

4 carrots, diced

1 t fresh thyme leaves, minced

1 c Arborio rice

1/2 c light white wine, such as Pinot Grigio

2 lemons, zest and juice

Salt and pepper to taste

2 T chopped fresh parsley

1 T chopped fresh tarragon

1 lb sea scallops

Salt and pepper to taste

1 T olive oil

2 T hulled pumpkin seeds (optional)

In a medium saucepan, bring stock to a simmer. In a large skillet or low-sided saucepan, heat oil to medium heat and add onion, garlic, carrots, and thyme. Saute until vegetables are soft, about 8 minutes. If vegetables start to color, lower heat – you want them soft, but not brown. Add rice and continue to saute for another minute or so, stirring, to make sure each kernel is coated with oil. Add wine and deglaze pan, stirring to ensure any bits are scraped up. Cook, continuing to stir, until wine is nearly evaporated. Add a ladle-full or two of the stoc into the rice. Cook, stirring frequently, until liquid is nearly absorbed, and add another ladle. Continue with this process until the rice becomes plump and gives up a lot of starch, making the rice appear creamy. This should take about 20 minutes. Once your rice is nearing done, bite into a piece to check the doneness. In the center of the rice grain, there shouldn’t be more than a pinhead-sized white dot. This is al dente.

Meanwhile, while you are stirring your rice and it’s nearing done, pat the scallops dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat another skillet to medium-high heat and add oil. Once hot, add scallops and allow to cook undisturbed for a minute, or until scallop releases easily from the skillet and has a golden brown crust. Turn over and sear the other side. Be careful not to overcook the scallops – you want them to be slightly firm and not mushy, but you definitely don’t want rubbery. This should only take a few minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

Once your risotto is al dente, add lemon zest, juice, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add herbs and stir in. Serve immediately in low, shallow bowls, and top with a few scallops. Sprinkle a few pumpkin seeds over as garnish, if desired.

Serves 4.

This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays.