Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Brilliant (If Random) Solution For Dinner

I've already confessed to being a cookbook addict, with shelves of titles from well-known authors like Diana Kennedy, James Beard, Marcella Hazan and Betty Crocker. Then there are those that cover cuisines ranging from Moroccan to Chinese to Latin American, and more that focus on a technique like pickling or grilling.

And then, of course, there's the internet, with millions of recipes available at the stroke of a few keys. But, honestly, some of our best meals have come from random rummaging in the fridge and the pantry for something…anything…to make for (yet another) dinner.

For example, the other evening I'd spent far too long bouncing around on Facebook or Twitter, trying to keep up with the endless conversations and very important links to the latest cat-in-a-box videos. Then I heard Dave's truck drive up outside and thought, Holy crap! Dinner!

I ran to the fridge like some demented TV housewife, hoping that somewhere in it would be the solution to my family's evening repast. Now, it's not like anyone at our house gets bent out of shape having scrambled eggs or leftovers for dinner, but I do feel a certain obligation to put an at-least-decent meal on the table.

After a few minutes I'd found a bulb of fennel and some spring onions from the farmers' market, and with chicken broth made from our last grilled roaster and some rice from the pantry, I had my answer. One that I think Di, Jimmy, Marcella and Betty would approve of!

Roasted Fennel and Spring Onion Risotto

1 fennel bulb, chopped
1 large spring onion or leek, chopped
3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 Tbsp. butter or margarine
1 Tbsp. garlic, minced
2 c. arborio rice
1 tsp. fennel seed
1 tsp. tarragon
1/2 c. dry white wine or dry vermouth
4 1/2 c. chicken stock
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
1 c. parmesan
Salt and pepper to taste
Fennel fronds, chopped fine, for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 400°.

Toss chopped fennel and onion in 1 Tbsp. olive oil and a sprinkling of salt. Place in small roasting pan and roast for 20 minutes or until vegetables are slightly brown on the edges and tender.

Over medium to medium-high heat, melt 2 Tbsp. oil and butter in medium saucepan. When it's bubbling, add garlic and heat briefly, then add rice to pan and stir till heated, about 1-2 minutes. Add fennel, tarragon and wine and stir until the liquid is absorbed. Add stock a ladle at a time, stirring after each addition until it is absorbed into the rice. After second ladle of stock, add the roasted vegetables. Continue ladling the rest of the stock, and when rice is still toothy, remove from heat. Add lemon zest, juice and parmesan and stir. Salt and pepper to taste, then garnish with fennel fronds, if desired, and serve.


Anonymous said...

Resourceful, quick, & delicious - nicely done! I can't tell you how many restaurant "specials" are created similarly.

Kathleen Bauer said...

I take that as a huge compliment from someone who has mad cred and fab skillez!