Monday, February 14, 2011

Lentils with Red Wine Vegetables

Photo courtesy of Urban Durham Realty blog
Last weekend my good friend and one of my college roommates came to visit. Obviously a cause for celebration, we made the most of the weekend in true Durham-loving fashion. Although she lived in Durham for four years in college, a lot has changed in the past three and a half years since she left. I couldn't wait to show off how cool Durham has become. So in addition to spending some quality time together, we got to explore some of  what I consider to be the coolest parts of Durham. To start the weekend off with a bang, we went to dinner at Revolution, which I consider to be one of the best new restaurants in Durham. Saturday we enjoyed the free tasting offered at Wine Authorities and then cheered on the Duke Blue Devils with friends and more good wine. Sunday we had a delicious breakfast at Foster's, stretched it out at Patanjali's Place with yoga flow, and then topped that off with lunch at Dame's Chicken and Waffles, Gavin's favorite for Southern delights. Unfortunately that afternoon I had to drop her off at the airport, making the weekend seem incredibly short. But I'm pretty sure she left feeling relaxed and full, and hopefully a little impressed with all that Durham has to offer. For one weekend, we managed to take in several of Durham's best spots.
In addition to all of the "site-seeing," eating and drinking, we also spent some time talking about cooking. Considering we both love to cook, this was an inevitable conversation for the two of us. It's been an unusually cold winter in both NC and Texas, our respective homes, leading our conversation toward heartier comfort foods and the delights of root vegetables. For anyone who doesn't love to cook, this may sound like an odd conversation to have, but trust me, we got pretty excited about delicious soups and hearty roasted vegetables. One dish in particular made us both intrigued and since I loved it and she wanted to try it, I promised to share it here. I wrote a couple weeks ago about lentils and how delicious they are. This recipe is no exception. Combined with root vegetables in red wine and finished off with Dijon mustard, this is a satisfying and healthy dish. I adapted this recipe from Cooking Light, a great resource for healthy recipes year round.

Lentils with Red Wine Vegetables (serves 6)

  • 3 cups vegetable stock or water
  • 1 1/2 cup dried lentils (I used French lentils)
  • 1 tsp salt, divided
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 celeriac (celery root), peeled and chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small sweet potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 bunch Brussels sprouts, stems removed and halved if large
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon, divided
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
In a medium saucepan, combine stock/water, lentils, 1/2 tsp salt and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, until lentils are tender.
While the lentils simmer, heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Saute onions for about 5 minutes. Add celeriac, carrots, parsnips and sweet potato, seasoned with 1/2 tsp salt, or so. Cook for about 10 minutes.
Stir in Brussels sprouts, 1/2 tbsp tarragon, tomato paste and garlic. Cook for another 2-3 minutes.
Pour in red wine, scraping any bits of the bottom of the pan.
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 10-15 minutes, until vegetables are fork tender.
When lentils are done, add them to the vegetables with mustard and black pepper.
Stir to combine and cook for another 2 minutes to let flavors blend. Remove from heat and stir in remaining tarragon.

For a printable recipe click here

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Lemony Shrimp Risotto

There are two problems I sometimes face when sitting down to write a blog post. The first is a lack of recipes to share, or a lack of a photograph to go with a new recipe. I just feel that I can't share a recipe without some sort of visual aid. I think it makes the post more inviting and hopefully encourages people to make something new. The other problem I face is writer's block. I just simply cannot get myself to write anything, even if I have a ton of new recipes to share. It's not that I don't want to share them - because I definitely do - but I can't seem to figure out how to do so. This past week has been one of those times. I have several recipes, with photos, that I want to share with you, but I've been unable to put anything into writing. It's not like I usually have anything particularly profound to say, but I try to have some sort of story to go along with the food. I could just write out a recipe, and I'm sure there are plenty of people who never actually read food blogs, they just scroll down to the recipe (yes, I too am guilty of this on occasion). But for those people who do want to read something, I like to oblige. So when I have nothing to say, I end up not posting for awhile.

So instead of trying to come up with something clever for today's post, I decided to simply share with you my dilemma. I'm sure anyone who's ever written anything - a journal, a school paper, a book - has experienced some sort of writer's block, so hopefully you can forgive my lack of recent posts. I will do my best to overcome this block and share with you some new recipes. This first one is pretty simple, despite the sometimes scary thought of making risotto. Yes, I do recommend stirring it as much as possible while it cooks. But don't worry if you have to step away for a minute to do something else. Just make sure there's always plenty of liquid in the pot so that the rice doesn't dry out or potentially burn. The lemon zest and juice add a great brightness to this dish while the creaminess of the risotto makes it luxurious and comforting. This is definitely a dish that can transfer from winter to spring with no problem. To make it even more spring-like, stir in some sliced asparagus spears a minute or two before adding the shrimp and you've got a fresh dish, all in one pan.

Lemony Shrimp Risotto (serves 2, with leftovers)

  • 4-5 cups low-sodium chicken stock (or combination of stock and water)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
  • 6-8 oz sliced mushrooms
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 3 tsp lemon zest & 2 tbsp juice, from 1 lemon
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1 lbs shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped
In a small saucepan, heat chicken stock over medium-low heat.
In a large pan, preferably with straight sides, heat olive oil over medium heat.
Saute chopped onions until soft, about 8 minutes.
Add mushrooms and saute until soft and lightly browned, about 6 minutes.
Season with garlic, salt and pepper and cook for another minute.
Add rice and cook for another couple of minutes to toast rice.
Add lemon zest and deglaze the pan with white wine, scraping up any bits from the bottom.
Once the wine is almost absorbed, add about 3/4 cup of stock.
Stir mixture until stock is almost absorbed and then add more stock, by about 1/2 cup at a time.
Continue stirring and adding stock until rice is tender and creamy, about 18-20 minutes cooking time.
When rice is just about tender, stir in shrimp, cooking until shrimp is fully pink, about 5 minutes.
Remove pan from the heat and stir in chopped tarragon and lemon juice. Add a pinch more salt and pepper, if needed.
Cover pan and let sit for 2 minutes before serving.

For a printable recipe click here

Lemony Shrimp Risotto