Monday, October 21, 2013

Green Risotto


Confession time: A couple weeks ago my husband went out of town for several days, leaving me alone  (over a weekend even!) with the kids. In order to maintain my sanity, I resorted to my usual coping method of sugar, sugar, and more sugar. Needless to say, by the end of the weekend, I had way overdone it and was feeling pretty yucky. My junk food overload had left me craving healthy, green food to try to rid myself of the yuck. I started pulling out everything green I had in my fridge, and trying to come up with a way to combine it into something that would counterbalance the artificial reds, blues, pinks, and yellows of all the candy and sweets I'd been having. One catch, though, was that it still had to be simple, because I was still playing the single parent and absolutely didn't have the time or energy for something new and exotic.

So, I turned to a basic risotto recipe - one of my tried and true simple recipes. I tweaked it just enough to add in all my green stuff - pureeing peas, parsley, kale, and spinach into a very green "smoothie" mush that would give it a strong green color, as well as also adding in chopped kale, spinach, peas, and dill at the end to add even more green color and texture. It turned out beautifully green, as well as being a delicious hit with adults and children alike. I was especially amazed at how kid-friendly it ended up being - I served it at a potluck dinner with several families with young children, and from what I could tell, most of the kids there (including my own!) ate it up without any apparent questioning of the distinct greenness of it.

Note: If you've never made risotto, and think it sounds complicated and exotic - it's not! I promise you, it is quite simple. Make sure you read all the directions before you jump in, but really the hardest thing about it is that you do have to pay attention to it throughout cooking because the broth needs to be added one cup at a time as the rice cooks. Also, risotto turns out best if you use Arborio rice (which can be found at most any supermarket). I usually don't have Arborio on hand, though, and have found that it turns out reasonably well with plain old short-grain white rice.



Green Risotto 
6-8 SERVINGS 
PREP: 15 minutes           COOK: 20 minutes            READY IN: 35 minutes


  SIMPLE         HEALTHY      YUM
pic name       pic name      pic name

INGREDIENTS


  • 6-7 cups chicken or vegetable broth (preferably low sodium)
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 cups rice (preferably Arborio rice)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • 2 cups frozen peas, defrosted (divided)
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 cups chopped kale (divided)
  • 2 cups chopped spinach (divided)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried dill
  • 1/4-1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (optional)
  • 1-2 tablespoons butter (optional)

DIRECTIONS


  1. Separate one cup of your broth, and place it in a blender (or in a container that you can use an immersion blender). Blend it with one cup each of the peas, parsley, kale, and spinach, - making a very green "smoothie." Set aside this cup of green broth until step 5.
  2. In a large skillet or medium-sized pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat, add the onion and saute it until it is soft and translucent. 
  3. Add the rice and garlic, and stir well for about 3-4 minutes.
  4. Turn heat down to medium. Add broth, one cup at a time (adding a small amount at a time is an important part of making risotto) to the rice. Stir frequently until the liquid is absorbed by the rice, then add the next cup of broth. Continue stirring and adding more broth (again, only one cup at a time), until the rice reaches a point that it is uniformly soft, but not mushy. 
  5. When you see that the rice is almost cooked, add the set aside cup of green broth that you prepped earlier. Stir it in as you did with all of the other broth, and let the liquid absorb. 
  6. Finally, when the rice is cooked, fold in the other cup of peas, chopped kale, chopped spinach, and dried dill. Fold in the Parmesan cheese and butter, if desired (these will give the risotto a more creamy, smooth texture). 
  7. Serve warm and enjoy!

NUTRITION FACTS



    1 cup serving    260 calories   4.0 g fat   46.9 g carbs    8.1 g protein    2.3 g sugar   
We enjoyed this with a simple tilapia filet on the side for more protein. The recipe makes quite a bit, and my kids loved having the leftovers for several days afterward. Just reheat a small amount in the microwave - it gets a little more mushy once it has sat and been reheated, but nobody seemed to mind. I found that this made a really great baby meal, and I've never seen my 1-year-old eat so much green stuff so happily. You could also freeze small baby-size amounts (for example, in ice cube trays) to warm and serve to kids as an easy lunch or even dinner.

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