Archive for the ‘risotto’ Category

Enjoy Vivaldi’s Spring Concerto from the Four Seasons.



Spring is finally bursting free from the frosty fetters of winter here in Ohio. We welcome it with open arms. I know there will most likely be some cold days ahead. April is the cruelest month, after all. Last year, after 80 degrees the first week of April, we were treated to temperatures in the teens a week later, fatally freezing flower buds from trees and shrubs and making for a relatively drab season.

So far this year, daffodils, tulips, magnolias and rhododendrons have been spectacular and I’m hoping that our crabapples, which went from brown to green last year, skipping the anticipated bright pink flowers of previous years, will give us a beautiful display in the coming weeks.

The greening of the countryside brings us the first fruits of the seasons, or, vegetables, in this case. Fresh asparagus beckons me to the kitchen to come up with new ways to prepare one of my favorite vegetables. So far this year, we have steamed it and roasted it. Today, I will include it in risotto verde. You can call it “green rice” if Italian words scare off your family members from trying this most delicious side dish. Actually, I could make this an entree if I could afford the extra carbs.

Pioneer woman has a great photographically illustrated tutorial on risotto. Her humorous accounts of cooking and her life in general are greatly amusing and informative. Be sure to check out her photography and “lessons in Photoshop for the average person”.


What makes my “green rice” green, is the addition of spinach, asparagus, and peas, if all three are on hand. I usually have a few bags of frozen peas, and fresh or frozen spinach, and in the spring, and asparagus every other week or so. Grab some onion, white wine, chicken broth and parmesan cheese, and you’re good to go. This is perfect with any meat entree. With a tossed salad or some fruit, you have a complete meal.


Serves 6-8

2 c. onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 T. butter

1 T. olive oil

1 c. Arborio rice (it must be arborio rice or marked for risotto)

1/2 c. white wine

1/2 t. salt

2 (14.5 oz.) cans chicken broth, simmering, over low heat (homemade broth, if possible)

6 spears asparagus, cut into 1/2″ pieces, or however many you want

1 c. frozen chopped spinach (thawed and squeezed dry), or 2 c. fresh spinach, chopped*

1 t. dried tarragon

1/2 c. frozen green peas, thawed

1/4-1/2 c. parmesan, grated or shredded (try to get a hunk of parmesan, but go ahead and use the green package if that’s what you have

1-2T. butter, optional

milk or cream, optional


1. Heat butter and oil in large heavy saucepan. When hot, saute onion 5-7 minutes until soft and translucent, then add garlic and cook, stirring, one minute more.

2. Add the rice and stir one minute to coat the grains with oil.

3. Add the wine and cook, medium-low heat, stirring, until wine is absorbed.

4. With the risotto pot on a medium-low setting, begin gradually stirring in the hot broth, about 1/4 – 1/3 cup at a time, stirring quite often until it is nearly completely absorbed. Then add the next portion of broth, continuing to stir until absorbed.  Keep the pot of risotto simmering, not boiling. There should never be a lot of liquid in the pot which means that you must keep careful watch and stir often to keep the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Don’t worry – it’s not nearly as complicated as it sounds. You’ll catch onto the idea of gradually softening the rice as you prepare the recipe and you will know when it is done.

5. When adding the last bit of broth, add the asparagus, peas and spinach. Stir to combine. Taste a few grains of rice. If they are still firm, add more broth (or water if you have used up all the broth) and continue the process, tasting every minute or two until the rice is creamy and tender. 

6. Add the tarragon and parmesan. Stir in the last tablespoon of butter, if you want to boost the richness a bit. Let stand off the heat for 5 minutes.

7. Add a little milk or cream if desired if the risotto seems too dry. It should be creamy and moist.


The whole process can take as little as 20 minutes or more likely 30. It depends on the rice,  your stove, the temperature of the broth, the pan, and who knows what else. It can rest, covered, off the heat for a few minutes while you get the rest of the meal on the table. The constant stirring really is no big deal. It just means a quick stir every minute or so. Don’t paint your toenails, take an important phone call, or work in the yard while you fix risotto. That way lies perdition. And Minute Rice instead of risotto.

There are ways to partially prepare risotto ahead of time, methods used by restaurants whose patrons don’t usually want to wait a half-hour for their meals. I leave you to find those methods if you desire.

Give risotto a try and discover what Pioneer Woman and I have in common. Yum.

*I used a cup of leftover creamed spinach the last time I made this dish. It worked great!


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One of my favorite dishes is Chicken Marsala. I rarely order it in restaurants because I have had some pretty bad renditions. I only request it in restaurants that I trust to make it well. 

You can find a multitude of recipes for Chicken Marsala in cookbooks and online.  I use one for pork that is from Jane Brody. I don’t know if it was from one of her cookbooks, or from her newspaper column. The same recipe can be used for chicken breasts if they are boneless and pounded thinly enough.

1 lb. pork tenderloin, sliced 1/2″ thick, and pounded to 1/4″

1 t. olive oil

8 oz. button mushrooms, halved if large or sliced if desired

1 shallot, minced

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 c. Marsala wine

1/2 c. red wine, dry

1 T. tomato paste

Chopped parsley, optional, for garnish 

 1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Brown the pork on both sides in the hot oil, in batches, and remove to a plate and keep warm covered with foil.

 2. Add the shallot to the oil in the pan, adding a little more if necessary. Cook, stirring, until translucent. Add the mushrooms and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring often.

3. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.

4. Stir in the Marsala, red wine and tomato paste. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer and cook for 5-10 minutes to reduce. 

5. Return the pork to the pan to reheat for a minute or two. Garnish with parsley if desired and serve.

What to serve with this? I suppose you could serve potatoes, although it doesn’t seem quite proper somehow. I would probably serve risotto, if I had the time and inclination to stand and stir it for 20-20 minutes. However, it is always worth the trouble.

A plain spaghetti or linguine would be good, also, especially if you made a little extra sauce to dress the pasta.

Naturally, I would have a salad, and maybe some vegetable, like broccoli spears, or broccoli rabe. The color would be great for the relatively colorless meat and sauce.

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Asparagus Risotto

After a big buffet party on April 1, we had leftovers galore! A delicious Honey Baked Ham provided many sandwiches through the past week and last night I decided to serve some of the slices for dinner.

I had some beautiful asparagus in the refrigerator and all the ingredients for risotto which seemed like a good accompaniment to the ham. With strawberries, pound cake and vanilla ice cream, we had all the makings for a delicious dinner. Best of all, the only thing I had to cook was the risotto. The recipe follows. It is from the Epicurious website from a 1995 Bon Appetit magazine.

ASPARAGUS RISOTTO (Makes 4-6 generous servings)

1 pound asparagus, trimmed, and cut into 2″ lengths (I cut the stems 1″ instead)

5 cups low-salt chicken broth
2 T. olive oil
1/2 c. chopped onion
1 1/2 c. Arborio rice (or medium grain white rice)
1/2 c. dry white wine
6 T. (3/4 stick) butter (I only used 4 T.)
3/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 oz.)

Blanch asparagus in a large pot of boiling, salted water for two minutes. Drain. Rinse under cold water and drain. Set aside.

Bring chicken broth to a simmer in a small saucepan. Keep on low heat on standby.

In another large saucepan, preferably one with a heavy bottom, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the rice and stir for 3 minutes.

Add the dry wine and cook and stir until the liquid evaporates. Add 1 cup of broth.
Stir nearly constantly until the broth is absorbed. Keep adding the broth, about 1 cup at a time, and stir constantly, until the rice is tender but still slightly firm in the center and until the mixture is creamy. This takes about 20 minutes. If it you run out of broth before the rice is tender, you can use water instead, and keep cooking and stirring until the rice is ready.

Add the blanched asparagus and stir gently until heated through, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Add the butter and stir until it is incorporated. Stir in the Parmesan cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

I added 1 cup of thawed frozen peas, microwaved for one minute, to the risotto just before adding the asparagus. In the past, I have added leftover cooked spinach, creamed or plain, at the same time. Fresh spinach could have been added as well. Here is a recipe for Risotto Verde (green risotto) that I want to try soon. It too has spinach and peas with arugula as well, but no asparagus. I bet it is a beautiful green color, perfect for spring.


I found the following recipe for Risotto Verde on the internet in Spanish. Google translated it thusly:

Ingredients for 4/6 people

300 gr. of rice type arborio
500 gr. of green vegetables of the time
1 small glass of dry white wine
60 gr. of parmesano cheese just rallado
1 onion small bite
20 gr. of mantequilla
1 liter of bird broth

salt, olive oil

Time of accomplishment 25 minutes


1. To clean or vegetables and to cut them to dices or in Julian. To cut the onion and to gild it in oil and mantequilla in a casserole or great stew.

2. To add the rice next to all vegetables. To let toast during moments, add the glass of white wine and leave evaporates. To add a dipper of the hot broth, to take it to boiling and to be adding broth dippers little by little and removing from time to time. To verify the salt point.

3. When the rice is ready, to add the parmesano cheese, a little mantequilla and to serve very hot.

Isn’t that great? I could follow that recipe with no problem. I might need to think a bit to convert the grams to whatever I could easily measure. I know “mantequilla” is “butter” but I’m not sure what type of bird to use for the broth. Robin, crow?

I’ve heard of eating crow and I’ve had to do it from time to time, but don’t tell anyone!


PS. The internet is a fount of information regarding food and the preparation thereof. One could spend, well, at least I could spend hours just jumping from site to site finding new tidbits of information about food and recipes. It is amazing and free. Just “Google” a type of food or the name of a recipes and watch what happens. Wow!

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