I have a secret: I don’t like risotto. It’s true. I’ve ordered it a couple of times at restaurants thinking I should like it and I’m always disappointed. And since there are many other carbs I prefer, I don’t really see the point of eating risotto. But I was paging through my Food & Wine 2009 Annual Cookbook a few weeks ago and I came upon a recipe for risotto made with steel cut oats, which I do happen to enjoy. Hmmm….perhaps this would be my first attempt at making a healthier version of risotto. By the way, I’ve had my Food & Wine cookbook since last summer and I can’t believe I only started studying it a couple of months ago. The recipes in it are fantastic! I recently subscribed to the magazine as well and I eagerly await my new issue each month. OK, back to the risotto. I decided to make it tonight because I had enough time to fully concentrate on it. (Risotto needs to be watched very carefully and stirred frequently.) I followed the recipe pretty much to the letter (though I did dump the whole cup of Pecorino into the pot, rather than reserving a quarter for sprinking over the top.) I was worried that the risotto wasn’t thick enough but once I started scooping it into the bowls, it was the perfect consistency and continued to thicken as it sat in the pot. Which brings me to my next point: if you only splurge on one new kitchen item this year, make it a Le Creuset pot. I have two of them and I love, love, love them. I use my 3 1/2 quart all the time and I have a larger 7 1/2 quart version that I pull out when I’m making a vat of sauce or chili. They’re pricey but so worth the money. Not only do they cook whatever is in them superbly, but they’re pretty enough to serve in too. I put mine right on the table—and the food stays nice and hot to boot.
Johnny loved the risotto. He rated it as one of my top five meals (and he’s a tough critic!) I was very pleased with it too. It had a delightful savory flavor and it was tough to tear myself away from the pot. I grilled some shrimp to serve alongside it, but we ended up dumping them right into our bowls. In addition to the risotto, I also made roasted radishes. I had picked up radishes at the Greenmarket last week because they’re in season, but truth be told, I wasn’t exactly sure what to do with them. I had tried one raw and didn’t love it, so they’ve been sitting in my refrigerator ever since. (I even brought them to CT, thinking that I’d serve them at Heather’s shower, and then schlepped them back to NY.) Anyway, they were still good, and I had read that roasting them rids them of their spicy, slightly bitter taste. I slathered them with olive oil, kosher salt and pepper and put them in my toaster oven for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. I was pleasantly surprised with the results! The radishes tasted like roasted potatoes (and you all know how I love potatoes.) I couldn’t stop eating them! From now on, roasting is the way to go when preparing radishes.
Here is the Oat Risotto recipe. It’s surprisingly easy and definitely worth a try.
Oat Risotto With Peas and Pecorino
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 leek, white and tender green parts only, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
1 cup steel-cut oats, such as McCann’s
5 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
1 cup frozen baby peas (5 ounces), thawed
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1 cup Pecorino shavings
In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Add the leek and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the oats and cook for 1 minute. Add 1 cup of the stock and simmer over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until nearly absorbed. Continue cooking the oats, adding 1 cup of stock at a time and cooking until the liquid is nearly absorbed between additions. The risotto is done when the oats are chewy-tender and suspended in a thick sauce, about 25 minutes total. Season with salt and white pepper. Stir in the peas, scallion and 3/4 cup of the cheese and cook until the peas are heated through, about 1 minute. Transfer the risotto to bowls, sprinkle with the remaining cheese and serve.