Vegetable poetry

My mother and recipe-writing predecessor may have been the Zucchini Queen, inundating you readers with fare containing that prolific vegetable, but I’m not as fond as she was of the green squash. Oh, I’ll eat it, but I prefer its flavor masked with cheese and stuffing or in baked goods.

Former Daily Globe Editor Ray Crippen recently sent me this email message: “The current issue of weekly Christian Science Monitor has a rhyme I would have sent to your mother:

Zucchini

Consider the humble zucchini,

Some huge and others quite teeny.

Try some of both

And never be loath

To serve them with fresh tortellini.

—      Ann Carranza

 Hmmm. I think I might like zucchini with tortellini. I might have to work on a recipe for that. It might also be palatable with some rice. I’ve recently discovered the joys of risotto, which isn’t nearly as intimidating to make as I previously thought and can be the basis for a meatless meal. (Ham or sausage could also be added.)

Risotto Primavera

Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large skillet. Add ½ cup chopped onion and sauté until tender. Add 1 cup Arborio rice and sauté for 2 minutes. Add ¼ cup white wine and cook until the liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently.

In a small saucepan, bring 3 cups chicken stock to a simmer. (I have also heated it in a glass measuring cup in the microwave — saves on heating up the kitchen.) Add a small amount of the stock at a time to the rice, cooking over low heat after each addition for about 20 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed, stirring constantly.

In a separate skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter and add ¼ cup asparagus that has been blanched and sliced on the diagonal; ¼ cup diced yellow squash or zucchini; ¼ cup julienned red bell pepper; and ¼ cup sliced mushrooms. Sauté over medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until tender.

Stir the vegetables into the rice, followed by 2 tablespoons grated cheddar cheese and salt and pepper to taste.

Makes 2 servings.

Late last week, I stood in the kitchen, refrigerator door open, and pondered a bowl of leftover pineapple. What, I pondered, could I do with that pineapple, outside of making a fruit salad, to go along with that night’s supper of chipotle turkey burgers?

Somewhere, back in the dark recesses of my mind, I recalled some TV chef making a pineapple salsa. I randomly pulled a cookbook off my shelf, and lo and behold, there was a recipe for pineapple salsa that was pretty much as I had envisioned. The original recipe calls for chopped mint, but since I didn’t have that in my garden, I substituted basil and pineapple sage, a random odd herb I happened to plant this year.

Pineapple Salsa

In a bowl, combine 1 cup finely chopped fresh pineapple; 1 cup chopped fresh tomato; ¼ cup finely diced red onion; 1 or 2 Serrano chile peppers (depending on how hot you like it), seeds and stem removed, finely chopped; ½ teaspoon salt; ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper; and 2 tablespoons fresh herbs (mint, parsley, basil).

2 thoughts on “Vegetable poetry

  1. I, too, have just recently discovered the wonders of risotto. I found this recipe on TheKitchn.com (I *LOVE* this website!!)

    (BTW, I’m just into sharing recipes–no expectation to see these in your column, unless you also wish to share!)

    RED PEPPER, SAUSAGE & CHARD RISOTTO — from TheKitchn.com
    serves 2 to 4
    1/2 lb chard (about 1/2 bunch)
    2 sausage links, diced (about 1/2 lb)
    1 large onion, diced
    1 large red pepper, diced small
    2 teaspoons smoked paprika
    1 teaspoon oregano
    2-3 garlic cloves, minced
    1 cup arborio rice
    1/4 cup white wine
    6 cups chicken stock
    1 cup grated hard cheese, like Parmesan, Pecorino, or Gruyere
    Salt and Pepper
    Separate the leaves of chard from the stems. Slice the leaves into thin ribbons and dice the stems.
    Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook until seared on all sides and cooked through (if the sausage was sold uncooked). Remove sausage to a plate lined with a paper towel.
    Add another teaspoon of olive oil if the pan is dry. Cook the onions with a three-fingered pinch of salt until softened and beginning to brown. Add the chard stems and cook until softened. Add the red peppers and cook just until the liquids are evaporated. Stir in the paprika, oregano, and garlic, and cook just until fragrant. Taste and season with salt, if needed. Remove the vegetables to a bowl.
    Pour the chicken stock into a saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer.
    Add about two teaspoons of olive oil and the rice to the empty pan, and stir to coat all the rice. Continue cooking the rice until the edges of the grains begin to turn transparent. Pour the wine over the rice and scrape the bottom of the pan to get up any browned bits leftover from cooking the sausage and veggies. Reduce the wine until the pan is almost dry again.
    Begin adding the broth a half-cup at a time. Wait until the broth is almost completely absorbed before adding another half cup. Stir in between and season with salt. When about 2/3 of the broth has been used, begin tasting the rice to gauge the cooking. The rice is done when it’s soft, creamy, and still has a little al dente bite to the grain. (You might not use all the broth.)
    When the rice is nearly ready, add one more scoop of broth and the sliced chard leaves to the pan. Cook until the chard is wilted and tender. Add the cheese, and stir until the cheese is melted and the rice is creamy. Taste for seasonings and add salt and pepper as needed. Serve immediately.
    You can stir the cooked sausage and vegetables into the risotto at this point, or serve the risotto with the vegetables piled on top.
    Leftovers will keep for up to a week. The risotto won’t be as creamy re-heated, but it will still be delicious!

    And, since you mentioned fruit salsa, here is my absolute favorite thing to pair with roast pork:
    CHERRY SALSA -or- COMPOTE
    1/2 pound cherries, pitted and coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)–fresh is best, but frozen or canned/jarred in juice also acceptable
    2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
    1/4 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest
    1-2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
    1 clove garlic, finely minced
    1 teaspoon chopped seeded fresh jalapeno pepper (wear rubber gloves)
    1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
    salt & pepper to taste
    Ingredients can be stirred together as a fresh salsa. Or, to make a warm compote, saute the onion, garlic and jalapeno in a bit of butter or oil until tender; add cherries and lime juice and cook over medium-low heat for 2-4 minutes; remove from heat and stir in zest, cilantro and season with salt & pepper. Serve over roast pork, such as tenderloin.

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