Monday, July 10, 2006

The Accidental Italian (Meal).

As I flipped through cookbooks yesterday afternoon, I noticed the recipe fo Summer Risotto with Tomatoes, Leeks and Fresh Corn. M. and I love risottos, but haven't made them at home for the longest time (for whatever reason). This particular recipe was in The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen by Peter Berley which is a cookbook I've not used nearly enough (although I seem to be remedying this fact of late). And just like that, dinner was decided. I decided to pair the risotto with a side dish of Pan-Seared Summer Squash with Garlic and Mint mostly because the recipe sounded very intriguing, and I had some lovely fresh spearmint needing to be used. Coincidentally, the summer squash recipe comes from Fresh Food Fast, also by Peter Berley. And, our meal would begin with caprese salad because we had some fresh mozzarella to use up from Friday. And, you can never have enough caprese salad.

Once I chose this recipe that involved corn kernels, M. and I both realized we'd need the Kuhn Rikon Corn Zipper. Luckily (or unluckily depending on your perspective) we have a kitchen store right around the corner who happened to have the Corn Zipper in stock. Using it was very easy, and despite the fact that it has somewhat of an eerie face I think it'll be a tool earning its drawer space frequently this summer.

It was only after I began cooking that I realized we were having an Italian meal of the evening of Italy's World Cup win. Sometimes I even amaze myself. :)

Summer Risotto with Tomatoes, Leeks, and Fresh Corn
The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen - Peter Berley (and Melissa Clark)

Author's notes - A quick and flavorful broth can be made from the corn cobs and leek tops.. Simply wash the leek tops well, place them in a pot with the corn cobs, cover with six cups of water and simmer, uncovered for 30 minutes. Strain off and discard the trimmings, and proceed with the risotto using the corn cob broth instead of vegetable broth.

My notes - I missed this notation about corn cob broth and used store-bought broth instead.

5 cups All-Season Vegetable stock (or store-bought), or water
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups thinly sliced leeks (white and tender green parts only)
1 cup arborio rice
1/4 cup dry white wine such as a Sauvignon Blanc
2 cups kernels scraped from 2 ears fresh corn
1 lb ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 cup torn basil leaves
1 teaspoon unsalted butter (optional - I added)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (optional - I added)
Coarse Sea Salt
Freshly Milled Black Pepper

1. In a 2 quart sauce pan over high heat, bring stock to a boil. Reduce heat so that stock maintains a steady simmer.

2. In a heavy 3 quart pan over medium heat, warm the oil. Add leeks and saute for 2 minutes until softened. Stir in rice and saute for 2 minutes, until grains are translucent. Pour in the wine and let simmer until absorbed.

3. Add the corn, tomatoes, garlicc and thyme. Add the stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until te liquid has been absorbed before adding each subsequent 1/2 cup stock. Continue stirring and adding stock, until grains are tender and creamy about 20-25 minutes. Add the basil during the last five minutes.

4. Stir in butter and cheese if using, and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Pan-Seared Summer Squash with Garlic and Mint
Fresh Food Fast by Peter Berley (and Melissa Clark)

Author's notes- Pan searing the squash carmelizes it and produces a nice crust. The sugars become concentrated, and their juices locked in. You can use the same technique with eggplant slices, and onion rings.

My notes - This was a really tasty recipe, but kind of a pain to make. The pan-searing took forever, and I think were I to make it again (and I would) I might grill the veggies instead. I tinkered with the amounts since I only had 1 1/2 pounds of squash. I used all the lemon juice, garlic and mint but only about a tablespoon of oil. And it still tasted great. Very garlicky, but very good.

2 pounds summer squash, sliced 1/2 inch thick
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh mint
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon coarse salt, plus additional to taste
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly milled black pepper

1. Warm a large, heavy skillet, griddle or grill pan over medium heat. Arrange the squash in a single layer and sear until speckled with brown and beginning to blacken (about five minutes). Flip the squash and cook for five minutes more. Repeat with remaining squash.

2. In a serving bowl, combine lemon juicce, mint, garlic, salt, and red pepper flakes and let marinade for 5 minutes. Whisk in oil.

3. Transfer seared squash to bowl, toss to coat with dressing and let rest for about five minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper, and serve.

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Tanna said...

Love that corn photo and the new zipper. I'll have to look for that, they produce terrific tools. I like the sound of the garlic. Terrific meal and post!

Mama Duck said...

Mmmm, making me hungry!