Tag Archives: cooking

Arborio Rice: Vegan Risotto & Atop Greens

A box of Arborio rice found its way into our Trader Joe’s cart last Sunday, along with my ambitions of finally tackling the art of risotto. This Italian short-grain rice is a member of the “grass” family, akin to corn, oats, rye, millet and, of course, wild rice.

Arborio is higher in starch, compared to say brown or jasmine rice; this characteristic lends itself to the creamy texture of risotto. Ergo, it’s an asset to the dish! I won’t try to mess with Italian assets, or their traditional dishes.

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I’ve never made risotto, and I’m sure many chefs and foodies in the world would argue that this version doesn’t count. Admittedly, there was neither wine (in the cooking process) nor parmesan cheese. There was Arborio rice, and a process of stirring.

I count it, so there’s that.

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This recipe came to our kitchen thanks to Jen Reilley’s Cooking with Trader Joe’s: Skinny Dish. I am lucky enough to work with Jen on occasion, and snagged a copy of this a few months ago. It has proven itself invaluable in our TJ’s stocked kitchen. I rarely make any recipe by the book; these are no exception. But a huge thanks goes to Jen for her genius vegan-friendly vision. I prefer my white wine in a glass, and had no parmesan on hand.

In place of the two, this dish uses one can of coconut milk + 1.5 cups of water. I substituted in diced mushrooms for the cubed butternut squash, and added a dash of red curry sauce instead of curry powder.

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This delicious combination will be undoubtedly be repeated, and gets a colorful stamp of approval from this apartment kitchen! I have a few vegetable substitutions in mind to keep it seasonal and fresh, and to keep having an excuse to make creamy risotto.

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In the next experiment, there was Light Vanilla Silk (Soy-milk).

Sweet potato arborio & greens

Sweet Potato Arborio over Cooked Greens

1/2 dry arborio rice
2 tsp olive oil
1.5 cups water
1/3 cup Light vanilla soy milk (or other milk alternative)
1 medium sweet potato, peeled & cubed
Salt, Pepper, Nutmeg
2 cups mixed cooking greens (collard, mustard & kale)
Trader Joe’s sells a bag of “Cooking greens”, near the salad options.

Heat the oil over medium in a deep sauce pan. Add dry rice and stir to coat; add water 1/4 cup at a time, stirring frequently, and mixing in the sweet potatoes + seasonings to taste. Add the water slowly, putting more in once the liquid is almost entirely absorbed. Add soy milk, continue stirring. Once all liquids have been added, cover to keep steam in (softening the sweet potatoes), remove from heat and stir frequently.

While the rice is cooking (and you’re busy stirring!), steam the mixed greens. That’s it. They’re easy. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until dark green. Serve rice + sweet potato mix atop the cooked greens. Sprinkle with pepper to taste, and enjoy!

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Arborio has been a good friend to our dinner plates and lunch leftovers this week! We’ll be having dates with this Italian “grass” more often.

What’s your favorite way to cook it?

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Roasted Cauliflower & Leeks with Arugula Pesto Pasta

As of late, there is one single factor that will motivate me to create in the kitchen – ingredients on their last leg, vegetables that may not live to see another crisp, fresh-feeling day.

Last week I purchased fennel, leeks and cauliflower to get the wheels turning. These aren’t frequent fridge visitors in our kitchen; a new ingredient means that I must make a new recipe, right? Exactly.

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Leeks were part of a list that was intended to create a Cassoulet, but that hasn’t happened yet. I can’t even recall the last time they stared at me from the fridge; who does this vegetable pair with? Where should it go? What does it taste like??

I sliced away, and made the assumption that this can be roasted, just like anything else. I also made the assumption that it can be friends with cauliflower, because that was to be roasted as well. Add in a blend of herbs, spices and oil, and you’re bound to have some sort of kitchen success!

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Roasted Cauliflower & Leeks

Heat oven to 400* and prepare a baking sheet with oil (spray or rub).

Slice 2 leeks; remove one head of cauliflower from the stalk, and cut into smaller florets. Combine in a bowl, and season with flavors of your choice!

I went with cayenne pepper (perhaps a bit too much…), nutmeg & cumin. I loved this blend, but could’ve gone a little lighter on that kicker. Add in 1 Tbsp olive oil, and mix well.

Roast for 35-40 minutes total – stirring at least every 10 minutes to prevent burning (see picture below – I could’ve done a few more “stirs”).

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Arugula Pesto Pasta

Meanwhile, get going on the rest of the dish!

Linguine Noodles (I made ~4 servings worth)
3 cups fresh arugula leaves
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Low-Sodium Soy Sauce
Salt/Pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp Chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)– optional
1-2 Tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese – also optional, I skipped it this time, but it’s part of a traditional pesto recipe

Cook pasta as directed. While it’s boiling, put the remaining ingredients in a Food processor and pulse until smoothly combined.

Once the pasta is cooked (al dente, of course), drained and ready to go, combine it all into one bowl.

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This has {hopefully just} a hint of spice from the roasted vegetables, but a settling, simple pleasure in the taste of arugula pesto-coated noodles.

An entirely new dish to our kitchen’s repertoire, and an entirely new way (for me) to use leeks,cauliflower and arugula (love that peppery leaf!). This is definitely filed under “experimental win!”.


What have you experimented with lately?

Any tips for leek-using to share? Next time it will either go in that cassoulet, or into a soup.

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