Everyday Gourmet (5/13/10)

Spring Fickle Food

May 13, 2010

By Kim Dannies

Sure, spring is here, but the wise cook always has a warming dish in their meal repertoire for crazy rainy nights or sudden snowstorms. A vegetable risotto spiked with creamy goat cheese is just the thing for healthy comfort food when the weather is making you cranky. It is simple to do and the ingredient combinations are unlimited.

I’m using spring veggies for this recipe, but feel free to create a new dish with leftover sweet bell peppers, onions, celery or proteins such as chicken, pork and seafood. You will find arborio rice in your supermarket. This Italian grown short-grain rice is full of starch, which gives risotto its classic creamy texture.

Spring Vegetable & Goat Cheese Risotto

Choose a heavy-bottomed pot with a tight-fitting lid and heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium high. Add 1 cup of sliced Crimini mushrooms and sauté until golden, about 8 minutes. Add 1 cup arborio rice and toast the rice until golden, about 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup finely diced spring onion and 3 minced garlic cloves. Heat 4 cups of vegetable stock in the microwave. Slowly add the hot stock to the rice by the cup, incorporating and stirring as you go over a 15-minute period (I use a heatproof rubber spatula for stirring). When the batch is nice and creamy, the rice is al dente. Add 6 asparagus spears that have been sliced into 1-inch pieces; 2 cups shitake mushrooms de-stemmed and sliced in halves; 10 small fiddlehead ferns or a bunch of spring spinach, or both. Cover and turn off heat. Let the risotto set for 5 minutes. Gently fold in 4 ounces of creamy goat cheese. Season the risotto with sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste. Serve on warmed plates and top with freshly chopped chives. Serves 2 generously, or 4 side servings.

For more light comfort food, visit my Web site, kimdannies.com. Go to Everyday Gourmet and click on 2008, March: Here Comes the Sun Corn Chowder. 2006, May: Greek Seafood Pasta. 2005, April: Deli Shrimp & Tortellini.

Kim Dannies is a graduate of La Varenne Cooking School in France. She lives in Williston with her husband, Jeff; they have three college-aged daughters who come and go. For archived Everyday Gourmet columns go to kimdannies.com.