Vegetable Risotto

Vegetable Risotto

In true Paula Peck fashion, this seemingly vegetarian recipe actually includes bacon. It definitely adds a smokey deep flavor to the dish. Possibly so rich it could be eaten as a meal by itself. However, the bacon can easily be omitted for a slightly lighter, more vegetarian friendly version. I use what I know as the traditional method for making a risotto: stock or liquid is added a little at a time, allowing to absorb after each addition. Her recipe from “The Art of Good Cooking” is a little more like rice pilaf, where most of the liquid is added all at once and put in the oven until the liquid is absorbed. I personally like to watch the rice and texture as it softens to ensure the rice doesn’t overcook. I’m more comfortable with this stove top method and prefer to save the oven for pilaf but I have included both instructions below.
This is also a great recipe for using all of that wonderful spring produce that should be available any day now. Feel free to swap out the vegetables for whatever you have on hand.


2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 slices of bacon
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
2 carrots, diced
3 small zucchini, halved and sliced
2 cups shredded cabbage
1 – 10oz package frozen cut beans
2 cups arborio rice
3 1/2 – 4 cups stock or a mixture of stock and tomato juice
salt and pepper
1/4 grated Parmesan cheese

Combine butter, bacon, and olive oil in a deep, heavy pot. When hot and bacon is sizzling, add onion, garlic, potatoes, and carrot. Saute over high heat for 4-5 minutes. Add remaining vegetables and saute for another 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add dry rice and saute for a few minutes longer.

Stovetop Method
Meanwhile warm stock over medium heat until simmering. Remove from heat.
Add stock to rice mixture, about a 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each addition to absorb before adding the next, until the rice is tender but still firm to the bite and the mixture is creamy. About 20 minutes total. Season with salt and pepper and stir in Parmesan cheese.

Original/Oven Method
Add 3 cups of liquid (stock, tomato juice, or any combination), along with a good amount of salt and pepper. Place in 350 degree oven, uncovered, and allow to simmer until liquid is almost absorbed. Add a little more liquid, and continue to cook, uncovered until rice and vegetables are tender. A bit more or less, liquid maybe needed. Check seasoning and stir in grated Parmesan cheese.

Serves 6-8



Punjabi Vegetable Curry

Vegetable Curry

Adapted from “The Art of Good Cooking”

I was pleasantly surprised by the number of Indian style recipes in “The Art of Good Cooking.” This was the first one I tried from the book and to be honest, I was skeptical. I first experienced well made tasty Indian food in high school. I say “well made” because prior to this, my experience with Indian food consisted of overly spicy burning your entire mouth to the point that you can’t taste and might as well be eating canned dog food mixed with oil and heavy cream. My stepmother introduced me to healthier, flavorful dishes, mostly of north Indian decent.
This recipe uses curry powder which was more available than spices such as turmeric, cumin, and ground coriander that curry powder can (but not always) be essentially comprised of.
A vegetarian dish that if served with rice and a side of Raita is easily a full satisfying meal. It has over 5 different vegetables which makes the dish more lively, and each one is easy to find and inexpenive. Like most curries, a fair number of ingredients are needed for this recipe. I find that each one creates a distinct layer of flavor within the dish that contributes to the overall highly spiced (but not necessarily hot and spicy-that’s up to you) multi-fascited profile. This is no boring dish.

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons brown mustard seeds
1 green bell pepper chopped
1 large onion diced
4 cloves garlic minced
1 tablespoon freshly grated or minced fresh ginger
3 tablespoons curry powder (or 1 tablespoon each ground coriander and cumin, 1 /2 tablespoon turmeric)
1 fresh serrano pepper or cayenne pepper to taste
1 small cauliflower cut into florettes
2 red potatoes peeled and diced
1/2 – 3/4 cup stock (or as needed)
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 pound fresh green beans trimmed and cut in half (or 1 package frozen green beans)
1 package frozen peas
1 lemon juiced
1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
Salt and Pepper
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Heat oil in a deep pot over medium heat. Add mustard seeds. When seeds begin to pop, stir in green pepper, onions, garlic, serrano pepper if using and ginger, and saute until tender. Add curry powder, cayenne if using, salt, and pepper. Add cauliflower and diced potatoes and toss in spice mixture. Add stock and tomato sauce. Cover pot and simmer over medium low until potatoes and cauliflower are tender – add more stock if needed. Add green beans, then peas. Continue to cook until all vegetables are tender. Do not allow to dry out too much. Alternatively, you may turn up the heat at the end if there is too much liquid – there should not be too much sauce surrounding the vegetables. Add lemon juice. Adjust seasoning as necessary.

Just before serving, sprinkle with chopped cilantro and shredded coconut. Serve with fluffy steamed basmati or jasmine rice and Raita.

Serves 6-8


Turkey Sausage with Sauteed Sweet Potatoes and Apples

A rustic seasonal dish that combines the comforting flavors of fall and Thanksgiving. For the apples, I use granny smith which are very tart and require slightly more sugar, but any firm crisp apple may be used. The brown sugar helps brown and caramelize the apples almost like an apple pie. The original recipe from “The Art of Good Cooking” did not have sausage but I found that the saltiness balances the sweet and acidic flavors from the sweet potatoes and apples. The sausage also rounds out the dish to make it a complete lunch or small dinner.

1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 pound sweet turkey sausage
1 1/2 – 2 sweet potatoes or yams peeled and cut in 1/2″ cubes
3 semi-tart, hard apples peeled cored and sliced 1/4″ thin and halved
1/2 stick of butter (4 tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
pinch of salt
crumbled goat cheese (optional)

Heat a medium sized skillet large enought to hold all of the sausages in one layer over medium heat. Add oil. Place sausage in pan and brown on all sides and remove. Add about half the butter. When butter has melted, add sweet potatoes and sautee until crisp and tender all over

While sweet potatoes cook, heat a large skillet over medium low heat. Add remaining butter. When butter has melted, add apples, sugar, and lemon zest. Sautee for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, slice the sausage at an angle in 1-2 inch pieces.

When apples are slightly browned and dry but not quite soft, add orange juice. Add the sweet potatoes and sliced sausage to the pan. Cook until orange just evaporates and sausage is cooked through.

Serve and top with crumbled goat cheese.

Serves 4


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