tonight proved to be a bit of an epicurean adventure that i thought i'd share. long story short, my doctor told me that i "need to make friends with legumes" (he was concerned about my protein intake given that i'm vegetarian). so after putzing about at whole foods, i got to cooking:
split pea and lentil soup
never let it be said that failure is bitter. i was intending to use a veggie broth to resuscitate the split peas and reuse the broth in a risotto, but that's not quite how things worked out. you'll want a fairly large pot for this (wider is better since you're going to be doing a bunch of reducing).
- 6 cups of broth (your choice)
- 3/4 lb split peas
- 1/2 lb red lentils
- salt (to taste)
- 1/4 cup finely grated good hard cheese (i used asiago, parmesan will also work well)
bring the broth up to a slow boil, then reduce the heat to low. add the peas and red lentils. let the peas and lentils simmer until the peas are soft and the broth has reduced to just cover the peas (your lentils may disintegrate like mine did, but things will still taste just as good). taste for seasoning and add salt if necessary, then add in the cheese. transfer the mix to a blender and puree most, but not all of the pea/lentil/broth mix. serve hot, with a hearty bread (i like 7 grain bread for this)
spinach and pea risotto
you'll need at least two burners for this — one to keep the broth just barely simmering and one for the risotto itself. when adding the broth to the risotto, it's important to wait until the broth is almost entirely incorporated (when you move a spoon through the rice, there'll be a trail where you can see the bare pot underneath). add the broth one ladle/cup at a time. this is fairly time consuming but very worth the effort.
- 2 cups arborio rice
- 4 cups broth of choice (i used vegan veggie broth)
- 1 bag peas (preferably petit pois)
- 2 cups spinach, sweated over garlic and olive oil or one back of frozen spinach which has been defrosted and strained
- salt (to taste)
- 1/4 cup grated strong cheese (see above)
- 2 table spoons of olive oil
- 2 table spoons of butter
bring the broth up to heat, it should be just barely simmering.
in a wide pot (anything with a large surface area), add the oil and the butter and melt them over medium heat. add the risotto and let it brown slightly. slowly add the broth, about 1 cup at a time. wait until the broth is almost fully evaporated before adding more broth. the risotto grains will turn translucent as they become fully cooked. once all the broth has been incorporated, season to taste and toss in the cheese, stir, then add in the peas and spinach. keep on stirring until the peas are fully warmed through, then serve. for extra color, blanch some cherry tomatoes and add them in just before serving.
melon with reduction of rosemary, balsamic vinegar, pomegranates, and figs.
not from this evening, but earlier this week when i had some friends over. i was really pleased with how this worked out.
- 1 melon, cut into sectors and seeded
- 1/2 cup *good* balsamico di modena
- 1/2 cup pomegranate juice
- 2 springs rosemary
- 3 figs, sliced into sectors lengthwise
put all the ingredients in a small sauce pan over medium low heat. keep on stirring until the volume has reduced by half. mash up the figs, then put the whole shebang into an appropriate serving vessel. the sauce should have a fairly dark, earthy color and a really nice aromatic smell. to serve, put one or two slices of melon (doesn't matter what kind so long as it's good and ripe) on a plate, then drizzle lightly with the reduction (a little goes a long way). garnish with a slice of fig or some pomegranate
i love that i can finally start putting the random stuff that i see on food network to use. over the next weeks, i'm going to start deconstructing the peri-peri rub that my parents gave me and see if i can't introduce you to some of the national cuisine of my homeland :-)