Saturday, November 6, 2010

It's Fall! Pumkin Risotto with Brussels Sprouts

It's Fall! And while in San Francisco, that means weather that most people think feels like summer and leaves that don't turn any colors at all, it still makes me want to eat Fall foods like pumpkin, squash, brussels sprouts and lasagna. Yummmmmm. My sister emailed me a recipe for simple pumpkin risotto a few weeks ago and I decided to give it a try. Learning from my past experience making Risotto with Radicchio and Portobello Mushrooms, I thought I would top this dense, creamy dish with bitter, crispy brussels sprouts. A Fall food match made in heaven!

First set up the brussels sprouts. Cut the bottom of the stem off each sprout and clean off the outer leaves. Slice each sprout into at least three slices. In a mixing bowl, toss the sprouts with a little olive oil, a splash of balsamic vinegar, and a few shakes of salt, pepper, hot pepper flakes and nutritional yeast. Place the sprouts on a large baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for about 20-25 minutes. Now make the risotto.

The risotto recipe is pretty much the usual one, with a few additions:
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves, garlic
2 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/4 cup white wine
6 cups vegetable broth
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 can pumpkin
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
salt and pepper to taste

Heat all of the vegetable broth in a pot until hot, but not boiling. Meanwhile heat the oil in a large pan, then add onion and garlic and cook 2 minutes or so. Add the rice and cook an additional 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the wine and stir to scrape everything off the bottom of the pan. Add all of the broth, a little bit at a time, all the while stirring the rice. By the time all of the broth has been absorbed, the rice should be cooked and al dente. Always taste the rice several times during the process. If you need more liquid, that's fine. If you don't use all of it, that's fine too. Just stop when the rice tastes right. Lastly, mix in the lemon juice, pumpkin, yeast and salt and pepper.

Serve the pumpkin risotto topped with brussels sprouts and garnish with lightly toasted pumpkin seeds. This dish could not possibly get any better. This now beats out all other risotto recipes I've ever tasted. I know I've said this before, but I cannot say enough good things about the mixture of thick, rich, creamy risotto and something crisp and bitter. The brussels sprouts are THE perfect topping for this. So light a fire, bundle up, and make some pumpkin risotto! That is, unless you are in San Francisco. Then you should open all your windows, put on a tee shirt and make it anyway.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Smothered Cauliflower with Potatoes

I decided to try an entirely new recipe called Stuffed Cauliflower. I got this one from Vegetarian Times, and it sounded so crazy to me that I just had to try it. The result turned out to be something I would not actually call "stuffed" so I decided to call it Smothered Cauliflower. The flavors were fantastic, and it is a great new way to eat cauliflower as a new dish. Maybe I'll change the name to Smothered Cauliflower with Potatoes.

When I got started on this recipe, I truly had no idea what to expect. I didn't change a thing from the original recipe (except to use less oil...I can't help it, I'm my mother's daughter!) because I didn't feel that I understood the recipe well enough to stray from it. The result is a very unique and authentic Indian tasting dish that was completely satisfying while still being extremely healthy. Plus it looks hilarious!

First gather all of the ingredients:
1 medium-large head of cauliflower
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 jalapeno pepper, some seeds an
d ribs removed, chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tsp. whole cumin seeds
1 Tbsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. garam masala
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. canola oil
1 large yukon gold potato, peeled, boiled and grated
6 medium yukon gold potatoes, sliced

First clean the cauliflower of all of its leaves and the thick, tough part of the stem. Place the entire head in a steamer basket (I have a tiny one that fits all the way in the bottom or a stock pot) with a couple inches of water and steam for about 10 minutes. This gives the cauliflower a head start on the cooking process. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and boil your large potato in some water. I was a little confused by the instructions "peeled, boiled and grated" at first. This is one of those times when I wished I could have talked to the person who wrote the recipe to be sure I was doing it right. But I just went with my instinct and boiled the potato until fork-tender, then grated it on a large cheese grater. It fell apart a little bit, but it didn't seem to matter much.

Next combine the onion, tomato sauce, jalapeno, ginger, garlic and cumin seeds in a blender and blend until a thick paste forms. Heat a medium skillet, add the onion paste and cook for about 3-5 minutes. Stir in the coriander, turmeric, cayenne, garam masala and lemon juice and cook 2 minutes more. Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup water and the grated potato.

While you let the cauliflower and the tomato mixture cool a little bit, place the sliced potatoes in a bowl with hot water and let them sit for about 10 minutes. This removes some of the starch and allows the potatoes to cook up crispier. Drain the potatoes, pat dry and toss them with the remaining 1 Tbsp. canola oil.
Place the cauliflower in a large baking dish. This part gets a little messy, but I thought it was fun. Slowly take handfuls of the tomato mixture an smooth it all of the the outside of the cauliflower as if you were frosting a cake. It should stick fairly well and you should have enough to cover the entire head. I guess you could use a spoon to do this, but I found my hands worked quite well. When you are done, carefully add the potatoes around the edge of the pan and bake the whole thing for 25-30 minutes.

When it's done, this dish will smell incredible. Slice the cauliflower into thick "steaks" and serve with the potatoes. I don't quite know how to describe this dish, except to say that it tasted like authentic Indian food to me and it was a very nice change of pace. We loved it and will definitely make it again. I decided to serve the cauliflower and potatoes with a healthy serving of crispy kale chips, the (very simple) recipe for which you can find here.

Nutritional Facts: 1 serving = 1/3 cauliflower with 2 yukon gold potatoes. 415 calories; 9.8 g fat; 0.7 g saturated fat; 280 mg sodium; 81.3 g carbohydrate; 14.3 g dietary fiber; 15.2 g sugars; 14.3 g protein.