Posts Tagged ‘Grains’

I’ve been on a major polenta kick recently.  I had never really made it until I made the braised pork with balsamic and grapes, and now I’m hooked.  It’s cheap, and while it’s a minor pain in the neck to make since it requires that you stir pretty much non stop for 10-15 minutes, it goes so well with so many things.

I wanted to do something a little different with it, so I found this recipe and whipped up a batch.  It’s delicious.  I only made half the batch, and used a bit more liquid than he recommended because I like mine really soft and creamy.   The recipe made a ton – enough for two sides with pork chops and a salad, and then for two main courses topped with slow roasted tomatoes.  The proportions below is about half of what the original recipe calls for.

Polenta With Goat Cheese and Rosemary
Adapted from the September 20, 2009 New York Times, adapted from Matthew Kenney

4 cups chicken or vegetable stock, plus more as needed
1 cup polenta
3 ounces soft goat cheese, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
1 tablespoon butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Bring the stock to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan over high heat.  Whisk in the polenta in a steady stream, then decrease the heat to medium.   Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, more constantly than you would think possible, until the polenta begins to thicken, approximately 10 minutes. 

Add the cheese and rosemary and stir for approximately 2 more minutes.  Stir in the butter, season with salt and pepper to taste and serve. 

It keeps well on the stove, though it thickens as it rests, so you may need to hit it off with a couple tablespoons of liquid just before serving.  I finished cooking it before starting on my main course, and just added a splash of milk and gave it a stir just before serving.

To serve the polenta, I cooked pork chops in a cast iron skillet.  When those were done, I took them out of the pan, and added a minced shallot, a bit of chopped fresh rosemary and sage, a pat of butter, and a 1/2 cup or so of apple cider.  Simmer for a couple minutes and voila.  I poured that over the pork chops and polenta.  It was a really fantastic fall meal.


I was lucky enough to find some dry farmed tomatoes at the farmers market here in late October, so I put those to work with the leftovers.  I slow roasted them and poured them and the juices into a heavy pan with a bit more water.  Simmered for a few minutes and then spooned the sauce over the warmed polenta. 


Yeah, it looks gross, but it tasted amazing.

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The Perfect Meal

Every now and then, I see a recipe and it looks so perfect that I must make it immediately.   October’s Martha Stewart contained one of those.   The recipe takes a bit of time, but it’s completely worth it.  It’s delicious, it’s cheap, it uses a lot of ingredients that I keep in the pantry, it’s a complete meal (meat, carbs, and vegetable), and despite it being about 350 calories a serving, it is unbelievably filling and satisfying.

Are you sold?

Moroccan-Style Stuffed Acorn Squashes
Martha Stewart October 2009

2 medium acorn squashes (about 2 pounds), halved and seeded
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 lb. ground chuck (95 percent lean)
ground cinnamon
ground nutmeg
2 tsp. course salt
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup bulgur wheat
2 cups water
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 tbsp. toasted pine nuts

I halved the recipe and it worked out fine, though I probably used the full 1/4 cup of parsley as well as 1/4 cup of chopped dates (instead of the raisins).  I also subbed ground pork for ground beef.   I realize this makes it not very Moroccan, but that’s what I had in my freezer.  I think any ground meat would work, as well as any combo of dried fruit.  I think you could easily make this vegetarian by using some chickpeas or even just increasing the amount of bulgar, dried fruit, and nuts a bit.

Preheat oven to 400. Place squashes, cut sides down in a 9×13 inch casserole dish.   Bake until tender, 35 to 40 minutes.   

Meanwhile, heat oil in a 4-quart pot with a tight-fitting lid over medium heat.   Add ground meat, a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg, and 1 teaspoon salt.  Cook, stirring frequently, until browned and cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes.  Transfer ground meat to a bowl or plate using a slotted spoon, keeping as much of the cooking liquid in the pot as possible. 

Add onion, and cook until slightly translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.   I didn’t have enough water in there, so I added a couple tablespoons of water to help the onions simmer without burning. 

Add remaining teaspoon salt and the bulgur, and stir to combine.  Add water, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 15 minutes.   Take pot off the stove and let sit covered for 5 minutes.

Fluff the bulgar with a fork, and add reserved beef, the raisins, parsley and pine nuts and stir together to combine.

The chopping of the ingredients and the whole bulgar mixture cooking time should take you roughly the amount of time it takes for the squash to cook.

When the squash is done, take it out of the oven.  Let it cool a little and scrape it out to form 1/4 inch thick bowls.

Fold the squash flesh into bulgur mixture.   Divide among squash halves, and return to the oven.   Bake until warmed through and tops are browned, about 12 to 14 minutes.


One squash half should be the perfect dinner for one person, though a salad couldn’t hurt.  And a glass of red wine, of course.

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And it still tastes good!

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I love me some risotto.  In fact, risotto was one of the first things I ever taught myself to make, after practicing a risotto recipe in the first cookbook I ever purchased over and over again in my tiny little studio kitchen, using a non-stick saucepan, a non-stick frying pan, and a plastic ladle, because that’s all I had at the time.  I’ve since gotten better equipment and better skilled at making it, but I’ve never done anything else with arborio rice besides make risotto.

Until now.

Arborio rice works really nicely in this rice salad.  It’s still has a creamy taste to it, even though there’s no dairy in this salad at all.  It’s really fresh and summery, and would be great for a barbeque or a light lunch. 

Lemony Rice Parsley Salad
from Food and Wine

1 cup arborio rice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup tightly packed flat-leaf parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
1/2 small sweet Italian frying pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/3 cup oil-cured pitted black olives, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Lemon wedges, for serving

This is a pretty loose list of ingredients and I didn’t really measure anything, just tossed everything together and adjusted for taste as I went along.  Also, I have no idea what a sweet Italian frying pepper is.  I bought a Hungarian wax pepper at the farmers’ market and used that, though I think any pepper would do except for a green bell pepper, which would probably be too harsh tasting.  I also skipped the capers and just upped the olives a bit, and for those, I just used kalamatas because that’s what was in the fridge.  I actually liked the briny taste of them in the salad, and would do it again over using the oil cured kind.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.   Add the rice and simmer over moderate heat until just tender, about 14 minutes.  Drain thoroughly.

In a large bowl, toss the rice with the olive oil and lemon juice.  Stir in everything else and season with salt and pepper. 

Serve warm, cold, or at room temperature with the lemon wedges if you’d like (though I skipped those too).


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I went to the farmers’ market over the weekend and went on a greens binge.  Among other things, I got my beloved arugula and a bunch of dandelion leaves.   I’ve never cooked dandelion before, but the bunch was only a dollar so I couldn’t resist.  I thought the bittery, peppery flavors of these greens would work well in a risotto dish.

The recipe is my own creation.  I just worked off of the basic risotto technique and incorporated flavors I knew would work well together.  Bacon and bitter greens has always been a heavenly combo for me, particularly when there’s cheese involved, so I’m happy to have created another vessel to enjoy that.

If you can find both dandelion and arugula, I would strongly recommend using both.   I think dandelion on its own might be a little strong, but mixed in with the other ingredients, it gives an unexpected kick to the dish.  Arugula on its own would be delicious too, or mix it with a milder green like spinach if you aren’t a big fan of bitter, pungent greens.

1 cup arborio rice
4-5 cups broth or water  (I use half water and half broth, it helps control the salt)
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 strips of bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 shallot, finely minced
3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
3 cups (approximately) of coursely chopped arugula (and dandelion if you can find it)
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1-2 tablespoons butter


In a sauce pan, bring the water or chicken broth to a simmer.  While that is warming, cook sliced bacon in a large, heavy pan.  Over medium heat, add shallots and garlic and saute lightly until golden.

Add the arborio rice to the bacon mixture and stir for about 2 minutes, until the rice is coated in oil and starts to turn translucent.  Add the wine and simmer until all the liquid is absorbed, stirring occassionally.

Using a ladle, slowly add the water or broth to the rice.  Add 1-2 ladles at a time, stirring occassionally.  When the liquid is just about absorbed, repeat until all the liquid is gone or until rice is soft but not too gummy. 

When all the liquid has been added and the rice is cooked, turn the heat down to low and add the greens, one cup or so at a time, followed by a stir.  This will lightly wilt the greens but keep them from turning too mushy.  Once the greens have all been added, stir in a pat of butter and the parmesan cheese.  Stir until the butter has melted and the cheese has been absorbed.

Season with salt and pepper and serve!


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Our CSA has given us a ton of butternut squash this year.  It started back in October or November, and we’ve gotten one or two in almost every single box since then.  I hadn’t cooked much of it in my life, just a soup or two really, but now I’m a pro.   And, it’s been wonderful having this much squash in the pantry all winter since it’s so versatile.  This risotto will be the fifth butternut squash recipe I’ve blogged about, and the soup, macaroni & cheese, and gnocchi I’ve made multiple times this winter since posting them.  Now that it’s spring, I should probably move on to asparagus and rhubarb, but Eatwell gave me two more butternut squashes last week, so here we are with another recipe.

There are quite a few versions of butternut squash risotto floating around online.  Since Martha and Ina never fail me, I immediately flocked to them.  Ironically, Martha’s is considerably more simple than Ina’s.   I opted for Martha’s version, because hers required that the squash be in the pot for the entire duration of the risotto cooking time, and I thought the end result would be squash-ier.  Ina’s looks excellent as well, so I may try that with the other squash.

If you’ve made risotto before, the recipe is a piece of cake.  If you’ve never made risotto before, here’s a good time to learn.  The recipe will probably serve 3-4 as an entree and 6 or so as a side dish.  The original recipe uses sage, which I omitted simply because that just seemed too wintery.  I think it was great without, though just about any fresh herb would be nice as a garnish.

Butternut Squash Risotto


1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) reduced-sodium chicken broth, mixed with 1/2 cup water and heated
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish


In a medium heavy-bottom saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add squash; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until edges soften, 6 to 8 minutes.

Add rice; stir to coat. Add wine; cook until almost all liquid has evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium-low; add 1/2 cup hot broth mixture. Cook, stirring, until almost all liquid is absorbed. Add remaining broth mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until liquid is absorbed before adding more, 35 to 40 minutes total.

Stir in Parmesan and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt.  Serve immediately, garnished with more Parmesan and herbs, if desired.

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I have been wanting to try farro for a while now. I see it occassionally in magazines or on cooking shows, so last week, I finally just decided to buy a bag and see what all the fuss is about.
Oh my god, it is so good. It tastes like a cross between bulgar and arborio (risotto) rice. It’s nutty, and both chewy and creamy tasting. It’s really good. It’s expensive, but a little goes a long way. It’s also incredibly good for you, with lots of fiber and protein. Definitely check it out.
I stumbled upon this recipe by googling “farro recipes” and going for the first thing that involved items from my Friday CSA delivery. I made a couple changes because I wanted to serve the dish warm, though I think it would work cold too.
This recipe is pretty flexible, so feel free to adjust it based on what you’ve got at home. It makes a ton. I served it as a side dish for dinner, but reheated leftovers the next day for lunch without anything thing else. I’ve still got some leftover, so next time, I’ll probably just halve the recipe.
Finally, the original recipe notes that it is great with a Neanderthal diet, so serve this to your cavemen friends.
Warm Winter Greens and Farro Salad
6 Handfuls mixed salad greens, washed and dried (I used spinach and arugula)
2 Cups farro, rinsed and drained
5 Cups water (or stock)
2 Teaspoons fine-grain sea salt
1 orange, zest and juice
1 shallot, chopped
1/3 Cup Parmesan, freshly shredded
1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/2 Cup good quality olive oil
2 Pinchs salt
1/2 Cup Spanish almonds, or toasted regular almonds (I used walnuts)
1/2 cup goat cheese, crumbled
Combine the farro, salt, and water in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the farro is tender, 45 minutes to an hour, or about half the time if you are using semi-pearled farro. Taste often as it is cooking, you want it to be toothsome and retain structure.
While the grains are simmering make the dressing. Whisk together the orange juice, orange zest, shallot, Parmesan cheese, white wine vinegar, and olive oil. Salt to taste and set aside.
Just before serving, in a large bowl, toss the salad greens with a bit of the dressing. Add the goat cheese and nuts.
Remove the farro from the stove and drain any excess water. While it is still very warm, add it to the greens mixture, and add another splash of the dressing. Toss again, and add more dressing or salt if needed.
That’s it. The final dish was delicious. If you wanted to serve it cold, I’d recommend holding off on adding the goat cheese until after everything was mixed up. I just put it in before adding the warm farro because I knew it would melt anyway.
I wish I had a better picture of this, but this is what I’ve got. It’s really, really good. I may become a farro addict now.

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I found a new use for tomatoes and basil that does not involve pesto, cheese, or pasta. We got more of them in our box last Friday and I was determined to try something different with them this time. I pulled this recipe for roasted tomato tabbouleh out of a Martha Stewart magazine ages ago and it seemed like a good way to put these ingredients to use.

It’s a little labor intensive to chop all the herbs and wait for everything to cook and cool down, but it’s definitely worth it. The result was a light, fresh salad and the roasted tomatoes definitely make it more interesting than traditional tabbouleh.

1 cup bulgur wheat
1 cup boiling water
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, finely chopped, plus whole leaves for garnish
1 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves, finely chopped, plus whole leaves for garnish
1 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, coarsely chopped, plus whole leaves for garnish
4 plum tomatoes (10 ounces total), cut into wedges
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 scallions, white and pale-green parts only, thinly sliced
Juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

I didn’t use roma tomatoes, but instead used a bunch of heirloom cherry tomatoes from my box. I just cut the big ones in half and left the smaller ones whole.

A note on the bulgur: I don’t think I’ve ever seen pre-packaged bulgar except for the kind that come in those prepackaged Near East instant side dishes. If you are having trouble finding it, check out the bulk food aisle at Whole Foods or your nearest hippie grocery store.


Preheat oven to 425. Place bulgur in a heatproof bowl, add boiling water, and stir. Cover tightly, and refrigerate until liquid has been absorbed, about 1 hour.
Combine chopped herbs. Toss tomatoes with garlic, vinegar, 1 teaspoon oil, and 2 tablespoons chopped herbs on a rimmed baking sheet, and roast until tomatoes begin to soften, about 12 minutes. Let cool.

Add roasted-tomato mixture, remaining chopped herbs, scallions, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and remaining 2 teaspoons oil to bulgur, and gently toss. Garnish with whole herb leaves.

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