February 10, 2012

Risotto with Roasted Parsnips and Kale

MM and I recently went out to eat at a restaurant that we used to love, but which has gone down hill within the past couple years. It appears to be making a slight rebound as MM loved his steak. I ordered seared bay scallops, which came with lobster risotto, and was looking forward to having two seafood items that I don't make for myself at home. The scallops were great, but the risotto was terrible. The rice was mush and there was no lobster to be seen. Just tiny pieces of tomato and some spinach.When I asked the waiter about it, he said, "Oh, it is made with lobster stock, there isn't supposed to be pieces of lobster in it." Excuse me? If I make risotto with chicken stock I don't call it chicken risotto. Let's call tomato and spinach risotto what it is!

So I decided that I had to make a satisfying risotto at home. I had some parsnips and kale in the fridge that I needed to use and stumbled upon this recipe for Risotto with Parsnips and Greens in the NY Times. The recipe was created by David Tanis who is a chef at Chez Panisse and has two award-winning cookbooks, A Platter of Figs and Heart of the Artichoke. I bought Heart of the Artichoke on Gilt for a really good price and while I haven't made anything from it, the pictures are incredible and Tanis's storytelling is top-notch.

This recipe turned out well and did satisfy my craving for good risotto. I altered it slightly to be more to my liking (I prefer a higher ratio of vegetables to rice) and more streamlined for a home cook. I find that when professional chefs try to create (write) recipes for home cooks, you can still tell they are coming from a professional origin and usually use more pans than necessary and are a little fussy. (Although my adaptation still uses 3 pots and 1 baking sheet. Sorry!)

Risotto with Roasted Parsnips and Kale
Adapted from David Tanis, NY Times
Serves 4 generously

Approximately 3/4 lb parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
Extra virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
Approximately 3/4 lb kale, leaves torn from the stems and cut into 1/2 inch strips
1 large onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup vialone nano or arborio rice
1/3 cup dry white wine
4 cups vegetable broth
1-2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. On a baking sheet, toss the parsnips with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast until slightly browned, about 20 minutes.

2. While the parsnips are roasting, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Blanch the kale until bright green and tender, about 3 minutes. Drain, cool and set aside.

3. In a small saucepan, bring the broth to a low simmer and maintain the simmer.

4. Warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper and saute until soft, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and stir until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the rice and cook, stirring continuously for about 2 minutes. Add the wine and stir until it has evaporated. Add 1/2 cup broth to the rice and stir until it is absorbed. Continuing adding broth 1/2 cup at a time, until it is all gone and the rice is al dente. This will take about 20 minutes. I usually start tasting the rice around the 15 minute mark. The rice should have a bite, do not overcook your risotto.

5. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter, parsnips, kale and some cheese. Taste for seasoning and serve with more cheese.

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