Thursday, October 11, 2007

Celery and Pine Nut Risotto

I recently received a cute little Italian cookbook. I opened it up and the first thing I saw was 'Asparagus and Pine nut risotto'. It looked good, interesting, and educational, as I'd never made risotto before. I had some celery and thought to substitute that for the asparagus and it worked out surprisingly tasty. I had to scale down the recipe a bit... this makes about 3 servings. It's not a difficult recipe, really, but the 20 or so minutes of cooking are intensive, as you are stirring the whole time. Be warned.
-Dice 1 medium onion and crush 4 or 5 cloves of garlic
-Dice 1 1/2 big stalks of celery
-Prepare about 1 1/2 cups of rice (note: you are supposed to use Arborio or some other shorter, absorptive rice. I used plain medium grain that I use for everything and it turned out fine enough for me)
-Prepare about 3-4 cups of stock
-Ready 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
-Optional: chop up about 1/3 cup worth of fresh basil
-In a large pot, fry onion and garlic in olive oil on medium heat, until onion starts to get soft and translucent-Add the rice and stir like crazy, until it's covered in oil and oniony goodness-Add 1/4 cup of stock, while continuously stirring until it starts to evaporate
-Keep adding stock, 1/4 cup a time-In the meantime, spread out pine nuts on a flat pan and toast for 3-4 minutes on medium heat, stirring every minute or two, until they get golden brown-After about 10 minutes, add the celery-Around 15-18 minutes after the rice was initially added, it should start getting done: the rice should be firm still, but edible and almost fully cooked. If not, keep adding stock until it's cooked and starts getting kind of clumpy-At this point, mix in the parmesan
-Take off heat, add pine nuts, salt, and some cracked black pepper
-Serve with some basil

-I added a couple chili peppers with the celery, but for some reason didn't taste them at all. Next time I'd omit or vastly increase them
-The pine nuts were good and complemented well the inherent nuttiness of the celery. Substituting another nut would also work, for sure, perhaps with different combinations of vegetables (peanuts and pumpkin... almonds and broccoli... pecans and peaches, go crazy!)
-I ate this with an over-easy egg. At the middle of the meal, I decided to cut up the egg into small pieces and mix it into the risotto and I must say it worked quite well. You could try if you wanted to get more protein in with the meal

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