I'm feeling happier, more inspired in the kitchen than I have been in months. I'm going to credit the green in the trees and the access again to all things spring at the market. Like with anything, if you have wonderful raw material, the end product is going to be out of this world. That's how I feel about this risotto. I could eat bowls of it for days on end and be perfectly content with life.
For many, some of spring's offerings can be a little foreign. How exactly do I use garlic greens or broccoli raab? Is there anything I can do with radishes that doesn't involve a salad? There's plenty you can do with all the above. That's what this series is about, encouraging you to dip your toes into the world of local eating. I want to give you ideas that make sense, can form full meals, so you can get the best value out of the local products you buy. The raw materials may be a touch more expensive, but in the end, the final product goes further, I promise you.
So, at this point, maybe you were inspired by the post earlier this week explaining what you can pick up during this time of year and what to start doing with it. It's page one in my new series "The Lighter Side of Local". If you have a second, take a look back and read it, see where I'm going, get on board, and ask some questions. I'd love to hear from you all throughout this process.
This risotto is a way to use some of those garlic greens, broccoli raab (or rapini), and radishes you can find at market this time of year. Here's the beauty of this recipe, you can basically sub out whatever you want. Don't have broccoli raab? Try spinach or arugula in this instead. Can't find garlic greens? You can use garlic scapes (more mature greens) or garlic itself, just reduce the amount you're using. The best part about risotto is that it's versatile, you can adapt it to whatever you have on hand which is perfect when you're buying produce at a market.
Remember, often you may head to your local market or farm with something in mind, but they don't have it. It's OK, move on, find something better that week. I'll introduce you to some basic recipes (like this risotto) that can be adapted no matter what. In this risotto's case, simply make the recipe up to the addition of whatever seasonal produce you're adding (in this case broccoli raab) and then add whatever you have on hand. I always use garlic in this risotto, in this case I used a cup of garlic greens, however, I'd usually use 2-3 garlic cloves, minced.
Other ideas for this week
If risotto just isn't your thing or you're looking for some ways to use up some of the produce you have on hand, here's a few ideas or things I'm doing with what I picked up.
Broccoli Raab (or Rabe or Rapini, a bunch of spellings)
Penne with Sausage, Garlic, and Broccoli Raab (this is a favorite in our house and easy)
Simple Sausage and Broccoli Raab Soup
Radishes (they're also just perfect sliced over salad)
Radish Green Pesto (making this tomorrow)
Spinach (my go-to salad base)
Flank Steak Stuffed with Blue Cheese and Spinach
Baked Spinach and Gruyere
You can sub out this for regular garlic (increase amount) or in place of leeks or chives in recipes. Perfect in an herbed butter, or scrambled into eggs or even a quiche (which is what I think I'm going to be doing this weekend)
I've already used this in a turkey sandwich with my Caramelized Onion & Cheddar Pumpernickel, and it's perfect in salads or on top of pizza.
I'm dying to try this at some point from Fine Cooking and I have corn frozen from the late fall still usable in the freezer.
Risotto with Corn, Spicy Sausage, and Wilted Arugula
OK, on to the main event now. If you have ideas or recipes for seasonal produce, please send them along, I'd love to feature them as suggestions every week!
Spring Risotto with Pan-Fried Radishes
2 cups roughly chopped broccoli raab (rapini)
2 cups chicken broth plus 1 cup water
2 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 large shallots, chopped (you can also use 1 small sweet onion here as well)
1 cup Arborio Rice
1 cup chopped garlic greens (or 2-3 garlic cloves minced)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground back pepper
3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 cup sliced radishes (greens and ends removed)
1/3 cup flour
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons olive oil
First, let's blanch your broccoli raab. Boil water in a large saucepan. While it's coming up to a boil, take a large bowl and fill with ice and water. Once that water is boiling, dump your raab in and cook for 1-2 minutes, until just softened. Remove from boiling water with a sieve or slotted spoon and transfer to the ice bath. This will stop the cooking process and keep that beautiful green. Drain ice bath and set aside your broccoli raab.
Now, let's start on the risotto. First, you want to get your broth/water mixture warm. Combine the two in a small saucepan and heat until warmed, but not hot.
Next, in large dutch oven, oven medium heat, melt your 2 1/2 tablespoons of butter. Once melted, add your shallots and cool about 5-6 minutes until softened. Now, you want to add your arborio rice and cook until rice looks translucent. At this point, you can add your cup of garlic greens, stirring away until everything is nicely combined.
You can now start adding the warm broth to the rice, 1/2 a cup at a time, stirring constantly until the liquid is absorbed. Keep adding broth mixture 1/2 a cup at a time until rice is al dente. That's very important, you don't want it to get mushy. You may not use all your broth mixture, and that's OK.
Once you reach that desired consistency, stir in your blanched broccoli raab, salt and pepper. The last step here is to mix in your Parmesan cheese. Don't skimp here, it helps make that risotto even more irresistibly creamy than the rice itself. Keep that risotto warm on the stove while you quickly make up your topping.
In a small plastic ziploc bag or bowl, put your 1/3 cup flour and your radishes and shake or toss until they're coated. Now, in separate bowl, beat your egg and pour the flour-coated slices into the egg and make sure they're coated well. In that same ziploc bag or bowl, add your 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs, salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese. Transfer your now flour and egg coated radish slices into the panko mixture and shake or toss to coat.
In a large skilled over medium to medium-high, heat olive oil until shimmering. Add your coated radish slices and fry until just brown, flipping to get all sides. Serve the risotto with several radish slices as your topping.
And just because I'm happy and they're forever my little clean-up crew - here are Gordie and Gabbie the puggies. They're always at my feet when I cook, looking for whatever I drop.
North Shore Bloggers Consortium Weekend Picks 5/6-5/8
Spring Invitation Night
Friday, May 6th, 6-9 p.m.
Like during the holiday season, Newburyport shops and businesses will open up downtown and at the Tannery Marketplace in the evening with food and drink. Come, drink, eat, and be merry and check out all Newburyport has to offer. They're always a lovely and festive time!
Roaring 20's Gala
Saturday, May 7th, 6 p.m. until late
Firehouse Center for the Arts, Market Square, Newburyport
Tickets: $75 or $125 a couple
This is the single largest fundraiser for the Firehouse for the entire year. Find you flapper dress, get your bob on and prepare to dance to some jazz on Saturday night. They're transforming the center into a hub of the roaring 20's. Food, drink, and dance and a whole lot of fun for a good cause. The theme is "Building the Boardwalk Empire" and it's fashioned after the success of the HBO series Boardwalk Empire (fantastic by the way if you haven't seen it).
Bluegrass and BBQ
Sunday, May 8th, 2 p.m.
Belleville Congressional Church, 300 High Street, Newburyport
Tickets: $15 in advance, $20 the day of the concert.
Do something a little different for Mother's Day. Belleville Church Concerts presents the Spinney Brothers in an afternoon of bluegrass. Listen to their sounds while munching away on BBQ provided by American Barbecue
Check out what the other North Shore Bloggers are up to!
Check out what Seth of Lynn Happens has found for you here.
North Shore Dish spices things up with their weekend picks here North Shore Dish
Choices from all over New England at The Two Palaverers.
The wonderful Jane Ward has some great ideas, over at Food and Fiction.
Joey C of Good Morning Gloucester offers up his events here.