This week has been, admittedly, a tad boring on the food front. A is gone, so I haven’t really been motivated to make anything of note for dinner (in fact, every night this week I’ve eaten a banana with sunflower seed butter, broccolini and mashed cauliflower that I made on Tuesday and ate from the whole week). Additionally, as my body has been trying to heal itself, I’ve been sleeping A LOT and have been lucky to get in some sort of smoothie for breakfast, which I’ve taken sips of in between taking the dog out, putting my makeup on and packing my work bag for the day.
Without really realizing it, I went three days without consuming anything but fruits, vegetables and nuts/seeds, which, in hindsight, that kind of super clean eating, probably aided in my body’s repair as well. I have found that the last month or so, I haven’t really been very hungry on most days, either, and while I’m not sure what that’s about (maybe just aging?) the extra rest and good things I’ve been giving my body the last few days have felt a little like pressing a big reset button. While I don’t eat unhealthily pretty much ever, I think I want to focus more on meals that don’t rely so much on wheat and dairy. I think I just feel generally better without these items.
Anyway, now that “healthy talk” is out of the way, let’s talk about what I’m cookin’ up this weekend, shall we? Tonight a good friend, L, and I are going to the American Craft Brew Fest at Boston’s Seaport. I went last year with A, and it was so much better than I had anticipated, I was super excited to attend again this year. Last year, as newbies to the event, we didn’t realize that it’s practically UNHEARD of not to attend with a necklace made of pretzels, so L is hooking us up with some fine, edible jewelry for this evening’s adventure. I’m sure I’ll have pictures.
Since she’s clearly staying over after a nice of beer consumption, I planned to make us breakfast in the morning. We might try to hit a hot yoga or a spin class beforehand, but we’ll play it by ear. I’ve really missed my morning eggs this week, so I’m looking forward to the spinach & tomato scramble I’m going to cook up and serve alongside some healthy, green smoothies.
Later in the day, my friend B is coming over for early dinner before we head over to the Museum of Science to check out the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit. Since it’s so hot, I wanted something bright and colorful, but, since an early dinner will likely take the place of both lunch and dinner, I wanted something that would also be a little hearty.
I’m going to throw together an arugula salad, a tomato salad, and some bright green spring vegetable risotto (cooked with brown rice; recipe to follow). After the museum, we’ll indulge in some berries, cream and lemon curd, because after making my own a couple weeks ago, I’m obsessed.
Now I just need to think of something healthy and a little special to cook up for A when he gets back on Sunday. Any ideas? What are you cooking up this weekend?
Spring Vegetable Brown Rice Risotto
*1 cup short or medium-grain brown rice (or, Arborio rice if you’re anti-brown)
*2 tablespoons good quality olive oil
*2 small leeks, white part only, chopped
*1/2 small fennel bulb, chopped
*1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
*1/2 cup dry white wine or water
*between 4 and 6 cups of warm stock (vegetable or chicken), or water, in a pinch
*2 -3 cups of your favorite spring vegetables (I like fresh, shelled peas and asparagus, though I’m using broccolini this weekend since B doesn’t care for asparagus)
*1/2 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
*2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
*1/3 cup mascarpone, quark or formaggio blanc, optional
*1/2 cup grated Parmesan, optional
*4 tablespoons chopped chives
Step 1: Set up a medium pot with water and bring to a boil. Blanch any of your fresh vegetables that you’ll stir into your risotto later by letting them boil 2-3 minutes until slightly tender and bright green. Remove with tongs to preserve the water and place in an ice bath to prevent further cooking and to capture the color. Set up a small pot and fill with your stock and set over medium-low heat to keep warm. You’ll use this a little bit later.
Step 2: In your already boiling water, stir in your brown rice and let simmer for 10-15 minutes to get the brown rice a little bit more tender. Drain. NOTE: If using regular Arborio rice, skip this step. Brown rice, as the whole grain, takes longer to soften.
Step 3: Put oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the chopped leeks and fennel and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and softened, about 3 minutes. Add in your rice and tarragon next, stirring until slightly toasty and covered in oil, about 5 minutes. Next add the wine, and stir until the liquid bubbles away.
Step 4: Begin adding stock a ladle-full or two at a time (until rice is just covered in your skillet) and, stirring throughout, let the liquid evaporate almost completely. When it’s nearly evaporated, it’s time to add another ladle or two or hot broth. Keep at this for about 15 -20 minutes, until the rice is just tender and the mixture is looking creamy and then add in your lemon zest and blanched vegetables. Cook a little longer, adding more broth if necessary, until rice is fully tender.
Step 5: Off the heat, stir in your lemon juice, mascarpone and Parmesan (if using) to add additional creaminess and tang. Serve hot with a sprinkle of fresh chives and cracked black pepper.