Showing posts with label Italian. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Italian. Show all posts

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Forbidden Rice Risotto


comfort food.  that's what cold weather is all about...
but with a HEALTHY TWIST

let's just say that this is NOT your typical "risotto".
i would call it "risotto-like"...but it definitely fits the comfort-food category

all the deep rich flavors from the slow cooking and reducing are there, but the black rice has a different texture...almost "al dente-like" to regular rice.  it maintains it's shape no matter how long you cook it.  i cooked this for a good 1 hour and 20 minutes!  the black rice does not act like the Arborio used in classic risotto, but it does make an interesting twist on a popular comfort food dish.  
the end result was delicious and worth the effort, but i think i'll leave the risotto up to the professionals.
on the other hand....
for a fabulous easy recipe using this super-food rice...one on the sweet comfort food list, check out my post on "Black Rice Pudding".  i'm not sure i will make the risotto again (due to the time and effort), but i will surely be making the rice pudding for a healthy dessert alternative or breakfast treat..



Forbidden Rice...once revered for Emperor's only...is now considered one of the new "super-foods".
not only is it full of antioxidants, it is packed with a load of health benefits and more are being discovered.  for more information you might want to click HERE  and  HERE.


FORBIDDEN RICE RISOTTO

1 cup dried forbidden rice
2 1/2 - 3 cup vegetable or chicken broth
NOTE...i ended up using 4 cups homemade broth AND almost 1 can of low sodium broth (see more notes)
1 tbsp butter
1/2 medium shallot chopped fine
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 big Tbsp shiitake mushroom powder
1/3 cup white wine
1/8 cup grated parmesan cheese
fresh thyme, basil or Italian parsley for topping
8-10 crimini mushrooms, sauteed and browned for additional topping

in a saute pan, melt the butter over medium heat and saute shallots until translucent.  do not brown.  add the forbidden rice and cook for a minute, stirring well so that the rice is well coated with butter and shallots.  deglaze the pan with the white wine and stir to incorporate.  when the wine reduces turn the heat to medium-low and add warm chicken stock...1/2 cup at a time.  add the dried thyme and shiitake mushroom powder.  when 1/2 cup has absorbed, add another...then do this again and again until all stock has been used and risotto looks creamy, done and delicious.  i guess this is "risotto 101".  i have never made risotto, but this is what i was told to do.  i'm sure it takes practice for a perfect risotto.
when you feel it is done, check for seasoning, stir in some grated parmesan and top with fresh thyme, basil OR Italian parsley...and sauteed crimini mushrooms.

A FEW NOTES...if i were to cook this again...i would probably pre-cook the black rice.  then go on with the risotto-like instructions.  i bet it would shorten the overall cooking time, make for a softer bite and it would take less stock.  the recipe called for 2.5 cups of stock and i went through about 5-6 cups of liquid AND it was on the stove for about 1 1/2 hours before it was done..
also when reheating (i had left-overs) just add a little more stock.




Thursday, June 7, 2012

Spicy Sausage Marinara (low carb Pasta)


i'll bet most home cooks have their own version of an Italian Marinara Sauce in their back pocket.

OR...know someone with the best red sauce recipe...OR you have your in-laws' Italian Grandma's hand written "gravy" recipe framed on the kitchen wall..well, i do know someone, but i usually just wait for her to have a big family dinner and hope for leftovers.  i just never turned out a good sauce for myself.  i must admit i've had a few batches of "just okay" or what i call "so-so sauces", but this one was tasty and good enough to share and post so i wouldn't forget.  i think it had a lot to do with the San Marzano Tomatoes, good spicy sausage and definitely the extra long cooking.  i'm not claiming any authentic Italian marinara here...just some good red meat sauce.  
it's pretty simple and comes together fairly quickly, but it really should cook for a few hours.  

so...i've finally learned the basics...set the day aside, buy the right ingredients, channel the Italian Grandma Gravy Gods...AND have my best friend Kim, whose a solid New York Italian known for her sauce, on speed dial...i think i called her 5 times.  maybe 6...


everyone's tastes are different so you might want to add a dash of something here and a smidgen of whatever there.  the key is to cook, stir, taste...cook some more and taste some more and so on.  i like my sauce thick and a little chunky with a bit of a kick.  too thick?...add stock or add some pasta water.  too chunky?...get out the immersion blender...to spicy?...add the pepper flakes toward the end or let the diners control the heat.  works well with any shape pasta, poured over steamed vegetables or this new "almost" spinach fettuccine i recently came across.


 let's talk a minute about this pasta...
it's NOT PASTA by any means,
BUT it is only 5 calories per serving!
believe it or not...this whole bowl with meat sauce has about 200 calories.


visually Pasta Slim does the trick.  we eat with our eyes and this truly looks like the real thing.
taste?...really has no flavor at all, but it does take on what ever you serve it with.
texture?... they are a little slippery right out of the bag and must be washed and dried as much as possible...and...some of the strands can be a bit long...like 4 feet long!... so they might need cutting.
other than that, they are a great diet, WHEAT FREE, carb conscious pasta substitute.
they definitely serve as a great vehicle for "sauce to mouth"


on with the recipe...

SPICY SAUSAGE MARINARA
makes about 6 - 7 cups.  use what you need then freeze the rest

1 med. yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, diced small
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
3 spicy Italian pork sausage
1 sweet Italian turkey sausage
(sausage equaling about 1 1/4 lbs.)
1 28oz can San Marzano peeled plum tomatoes
(cut up as they go in the pot.  don't lose juices)
1 15oz can San Marzano diced tomatoes
1 15 oz can San Marzano tomato sauce
2 big Tbsp San Marzano tomato paste
1 big tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried basil
1 - 2 tsp dried red chili flakes (more or less)
5-7 fresh basil leaves, torn or chopped
3 big Tbsp grated parmigiano reggiano
2-3 cups water

in a large stock pot...
start with olive oil and onions (med. heat), then add garlic.  remove casing from sausage and add meat to the pot. lightly brown the meat until it's cooked through.  separate the sausage lumps while cooking...it should resemble hamburger meat. 
add all tomato ingredients (with all juices), dried herbs, chili flakes and 2 cups water.
bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.  stir occasionally.
after about an hour...add parmigiano and fresh basil.  if it looks to thick add a little more water.
simmer for 1 more hour. 
 taste for seasoning.
it should be ready to serve at this point...BUT...it will get better and better if you cook it for at least another hour.
NOTE...my best friend Kim (New York-Italian) cooks hers alllll day long, but she makes a HUGE pot with pork chops instead of sausage...so it cooks until the meat is just falling apart.  it's enough to feed an army of hungry Italians.  i had her on the hot line as i was cooking and she said leave it on...let it cook.

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