Posts Tagged With: Risotto

Quinoa & Onion Risotto with Crème Fraîche and Hazelnuts

I hardly ever cook dinners these days that aren’t one dish entrees.  It’s not that I don’t like dinners with side dishes, I just really like the simplicity of my meals being one complete dish (USUALLY it means less clean up is involved).  I also have a big issue with food touching that shouldn’t be (you know, like gravy spilling out of your mashed potato boat and getting all over your green beans?  Ick).  All said, I found a side dish recipe that I found worthy of my time since I had some salmon and asparagus I wanted to make for dinner: Quinoa Risotto.

The ingredients sound really weird but I have to say, this was an excellent side dish!  It had tons of flavor and Branden and I both scarfed down a second helping (it reheats well too the next day!).

Don’t expect this to be super creamy like rice risotto but definitely cook it with the same method and you won’t be disappointed!


  • 1 1/2 c. uncooked quinoa
  • 6 c. water
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. butter
  • 1 1/2 c. finely chopped Oso Sweet or other sweet onion
  • 2 TBS white wine vinegar
  • 3 TBS crème fraîche
  • 3 TBS chopped hazelnuts, toasted

Place quinoa in a fine sieve; place sieve in a large bowl. Cover quinoa with water. Using your hands, rub grains together for 30 seconds; rinse and drain. Repeat procedure twice. Drain well.

Combine 6 cups water, salt, thyme, and bay leaf in a large saucepan; bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cover and cook 5 minutes; discard thyme and bay leaf. Keep warm over low heat.

Melt butter in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add onion, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add quinoa; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add warm seasoned water, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently until each portion of warm seasoned water is absorbed before adding the next (about 30 minutes total). Stir in vinegar. Spoon 2/3 cup risotto into each of 6 small bowls or plates; top each serving with 1 1/2 teaspoons crème fraîche. Sprinkle each serving with 1 1/2 teaspoons hazelnuts.

Cooking Light

Categories: American, Recipes, Sides | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Pumpkin & Goat Cheese Risotto

Oh hey, guess what? I found another yummy risotto recipe.  Surprised?  You really shouldn’t be.

This one is a bit different – its got this awesome combination of pumpkin and goat cheese (I really, really love goat cheese) all topped with applewood smoked bacon.  Oh gosh, I’m salivating!


  • 4 c. low-sodium organic chicken broth, plus extra for moistening, as needed
  • 1 c. canned pure pumpkin
  • 4 slices applewood smoked bacon, chopped
  • 2 TBS butter
  • 1 leek (white and pale green part), thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 ½ c. Arborio rice or medium-grain white rice
  • 2/3 c. dry white wine, such as pinot grigio
  • ½ c. freshly grated Parmesan
  • ⅓ c. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp. (generous) freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 ½ c. coarsely crumbled soft fresh goat cheese (about 6 ounces)

Whisk together the broth and the pumpkin in a heavy medium saucepan and simmer over medium heat. Cover the pan and reduce the heat to low to keep the pumpkin broth warm.

Cook the bacon in a medium skillet over medium heat until brown and crisp. Transfer to a paper towel with a slotted spoon to drain.

Melt the butter in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add the leek and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Cook until almost tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Mix in the thyme. Add the rice and stir for 1 minute. Add the wine and simmer, stirring constantly, until completely absorbed, 1 to 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the pumpkin broth and stir until almost completely absorbed, 1 to 2 minutes. Continue cooking the rice, adding the broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each addition to absorb before adding the next. Cook until the rice is tender but still firm to the bite, and the mixture is creamy, 20 to 25 minutes, adding additional warm broth by 1/4 cupfuls if risotto is dry. Mix in the Parmesan, 1 tablespoon of the parsley, the remaining salt, pepper and nutmeg. Remove from the heat. Add more salt to taste.

Divide the risotto among 6 shallow bowls. Sprinkle each with the bacon, goat cheese and remaining parsley and serve

Giada DeLaurentis

Categories: Entrees, Italian, Recipes, Sides | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Don’t Judge Me: Risotto with Fresh Mozzarella, Tomatoes, and Basil

I shouldn’t even try to defend myself again…my obsession with risotto lately is just getting ridiculous, with several posts like this and this and this lately (and for that apologize).  I promise, I think this is the last one for awhile…I just couldn’t help myself since recipe is basically Caprese salad mixed into risotto (which I proved earlier in the summer that I am also obsessed with) and my garden is cranking out the basil and tomatoes at a rapid rate right now.

What else can I say, if you like risotto and Caprese salad, this is sure to be a winner.  Enjoy!

  • 2 TBS balsamic vinegar
  • 4 1/2 c. chicken stock
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 2 c. chopped leeks
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 c. Arborio rice
  • 1/2 c. dry white wine**
  • 1/4 c. heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 c. halved grape tomatoes
  • 1/4 c. chopped fresh basil
  • 5 oz. fresh mozzarella, finely diced (or if you can find mozzarella pearls, those work perfect)

Place the vinegar in a small, heavy saucepan; bring to a boil over medium heat.  Cook until slightly syrupy and reduced to 1 TBS (about 4 minutes).  Set aside.

Bring to a boil to a simmer in a medium saucepan (do not boil).  Keep warm.

Heat 1 TBS oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add leek to pan; saute 3 minutes or until tender.  Add rice; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Stir in wine, and cook 1 minute or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly.  Stir in 1/2 cup broth; cook 5 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat to medium.  Add remaining broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 25 minutes total).  Stir in heavy cream, salt, and pepper; cook 2 minutes.  Remove from heat; stir in tomatoes, basil, and cheese.  Place about 1 cup risotto into each of 6 shallow serving bowls; drizzle each serving with 1/2 tsp balsamic syrup and 1/2 tsp oil.

**For wine, I’ve recently found a new favorite for cooking.  Francis Ford Coppola’s Pino Grigio is a winner in my book for a couple reasons.  First, I like the price (I haven’t paid more that $10 for it locally).  Second, someone once told me that you should never cook with wine that you wouldn’t drink…and this wine doesn’t break that rule.  This wine is delicious for drinking as well while you’re cooking and to enjoy with dinner.  I really like that its dry, but still fruity and refreshing.  Hope that helps!

Adapted from Cooking Light, September 2007



Categories: Entrees, Italian, Recipes, Wine | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Another Risotto Recipe: Barley Risotto with Eggplant & Tomatoes

For some reason I’ve been drawn to risotto entrees lately.  I don’t know if its the creamy texture, the simplicity of a gourmet dinner in one pot, or the endless possibilities to be explored.  Regardless, here’s another recipe for a barley risotto.  This one was good, but I have to say, I liked the other barley risotto a little better- depends on if you’re in the mood for eggplant or not I guess (but don’t get me wrong, this dish was delicious, too).


  • 6 c. diced eggplant (1/2″ cubes)
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 3 TBS olive oil, divided
  • 1/3 tsp. black pepper, divided
  • 5 c. chicken stock
  • 2 c. water
  • 1 1/2 c. finely chopped onion
  • 1 c. uncooked pearl barley
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 c. dry white wine
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. (2 oz.) goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 c. fresh basil, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 c. pine nuts, toasted
  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Combine eggplant, tomatoes, 2 TBS oil, and 1/4 tsp. pepper in a bowl; toss to coat.  Arrange mixture in a single layer on a jelly-roll pan.  Bake for 20 minutes or until tomatoes begin to collapse and eggplant is tender.
  3. Combine broth and 2 cups water in a medium saucepan; bring to a simmer (do not boil).  Keep warm over low heat.
  4. Heat remaining 1 TBS oil in a large skillet over medium-heat heat.  Add onion to pan; saute 4 minutes or until onion begins to brown.  Stir in barley and garlic; cook 1 minute.  Add wine; cook 1 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates, stirring constantly.  Add 1 cup broth mixture to pan; bring to boil, stirring frequently.  Cook 5 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly.  Add remaining broth mixture, 1 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth mixture is absorbed before adding the next (about 40 minutes total).  Gently stir in eggplant mixture, remaining 1/4 tsp. pepper, and salt.  Top with cheese, basil, and nuts.

Adapted from Cooking Light, September 2009

Categories: Entrees, Recipes | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

Barley Risotto with Sundried Tomatoes and Basil

This was a weeknight dinner that took a little time, but was super delicious especially when you pair it with the rest of the wine you didn’t use in the recipe.  Hopefully the rest of that bottle made it to the dinner table but at least you’re feeling good if it didn’t!

Any risotto is a labor of love and is going to take some time if you want it to turn out with the right consistency.  Using barley does add a little extra labor in the form of a stirring time commitment though, so be prepared to stand over the stove for awhile.  The prep work is a cinch, its really just the stirring process that takes all the time.  If you’re looking for a mind-numbing activity to get your mind off the work week, this recipe is for you.  And the best part?  After you’ve relaxed, you’re left with an awesome dinner!


  • 2 cans vegetable stock, (14.5 ounces each) – I like Kitchen Basics brand the best for its awesome flavor
  • 3 c. water
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 c. pearl barley
  • 3/4 c. dry white wine
  • 1 c. sun dried tomatoes, julienned (I used dehydrated ones that I re-hydrated in warm water for a few minutes, but you can use oil-packed tomatoes, too- just make sure to drain the oil)
  • 2 c. packed fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
  • 1/2 c. grated (about 2 ounces) Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  1. In a medium saucepan, bring broth and  water just to a simmer.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add barley; cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Then add wine; cook, stirring, until evaporated, about 1 minute.
  3. Add 1 cup hot broth mixture; simmer, stirring occasionally, until almost absorbed, 10 to 12 minutes. Continue adding broth mixture in this manner until barley is tender and mixture is creamy, 40 to 50 minutes (you may not have to use all the broth). Add sun dried tomatoes; cook just to heat through, 4 to 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in basil and Parmesan; season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, with extra cheese.

Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Great Food Fast

Categories: Entrees, Italian, Recipes | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

Wild Mushroom Risotto with Truffle Oil

This recipe has been calling my name for weeks.  I don’t know why, but I kept coming across it when looking through cookbooks lately, so when I found a fresh wild mushroom mix (something that I can’t usually find without driving 30 minutes or so), I knew that it was fate.

This is a delicious dinner for two that’s really filling!  Branden was loving the portion size which is shockingly large seeing as there’s only 3/4 c. of rice used.  You can also make this same recipe and serve it as a side (4-6 portions).  Make sure to use quality chicken stock and a good dry wine as these will boost the flavors.  I served my risotto with fresh sourdough bread that I brushed with truffle oil and stuck underneath the broiler until toasted.  I also topped the dish with fresh parsley, fresh shredded parmesan, and drizzled with white truffle oil for some added earthiness.

Is your mouth watering yet?!  Mine sure is!!

Wild Mushroom Risotto

  • 3 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 8 oz. wild mushrooms, rinsed and sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 3/4 cup arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  1. Bring the stock to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover and keep the stock hot.
  2. Heat the oil in a large heavy bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, for 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until tender and slightly brown, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes.  Add the rice and stir well, about 30 seconds. Add the wine and simmer, stirring constantly, until the liquid is absorbed, about 2-3 minutes. Add 3/4 cup of the hot stock, reduce the heat to medium, and cook, stirring frequently, until the stock is absorbed. Add the remaining hot stock 3/4 cup at a time, stirring frequently and allowing each addition to be fully absorbed before adding more, until the rice is just tender and the risotto is creamy. This takes about 30 minutes.
  3. Stir in the 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, thyme, and butter. If the rice appears dry, add up to 1/4 cup water to loosen the risotto slightly. Season with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.
  4. Divide the risotto between two large bowl and sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, fresh parsley and truffle oil.  Serve immediately.
Categories: Entrees, French, Recipes | Tags: , | 3 Comments

Restaurant Review: The Mona Lisa, North Beach, San Francisco

Every time we walked through North Beach, the Little Italy of San Francisco, I was overwhelmed by the wonderful smell of garlic.  Naturally, I felt it necessary to try one of the restaurants here, especially after reading all the menus (restaurants here have to post their menus outside which is nice because I find it easier to know what you’re in for before being seated at a restaurant).  After a long, cold, rainy, day we were looking for some “comfort food” and settled on The Mona Lisa based on the extensive menu and the fact that it was packed compared to other restaurants in the area.  In my opinion, when all else fails while trying to pick a restaurant, go where it looks the most crowded, chances are, the folks in there know something you don’t.

The service was wonderful and prompt for the restaurant being so busy and everyone who worked there had a thick Italian accent, so we were off to a good start.  There was olive oil and balsamic vinegar on the tables, so I was really excited for the bread basket to arrive.  The Italian bread was mediocre; nothing special that I couldn’t go buy from the supermarket, but at least I could dip it in oil and vinegar!

For an entrée, I order the seafood risotto that was in a white wine sauce instead of the traditional red you see most places, which I really enjoyed.  I love white wine risottos and the addition of seafood left me giddy with anticipation.  My seafood mixture consisted of prawns, mussels, Dungeness crab, and baby calamari.  The Arborio rice was perfectly cooked al dente and the seafood was incredibly fresh.  My only complaint here was that the white wine flavor was a little bit lost in the mix, perhaps masked by the salty seafood?  The dish definitely wasn’t bad at all, just lacking a tad based on my personal preferences.

All in all, this was a decent Italian restaurant and definitely had a huge, overwhelming menu, so chances are, everyone can find something to eat here.  If I ever find myself back in San Francisco, I’ll probably check out one the many other Italian restaurants before heading back here to see what else is out there.

*I apologize for the poor picture quality.  Yet another restaurant with “poor” lighting…at least for taking photos!

Categories: Italian, Restaurants | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Restaurant Review: Michael Alberini’s Restaurant and Wine Shop

While visiting my in-laws this weekend, my mother-in-law and I made our second trip ever to Michael Alberini’s in Boardman, Ohio.  The first time we went a few months ago, the food was amazing but of course I hadn’t started my blog yet.  Because of the awesome experience I had the first time there, I was really excited when my mother-in-law, Jocelyn, suggested we go there again for dinner.

It was a girls night out so we went big.  For an appetizer, we had the New Zealand Lollipops which the menu describes as “The  finest, most tender lamb chops char   grilled.  Served with homemade horseradish sauce.”  Holy cow, these things are amazing and we were glad our husbands weren’t with us because then we didn’t have to share with them.  These are some of the best lamb chops I’ve ever had and both times I’ve ordered them, they were cooked consistently to perfection.  The cool horseradish sauce is an awesome compliment and completes the flavor profile.  I highly suggest this appetizer should you ever find yourself at Michael Alberini’s.

Next was the salad.  I had the caesar salad which was incredible.  It was obvious that the dressing was fresh and the parmesan crisps doubled as cheese and croutons, something unexpected but surprisingly nice as they offered both textural and visual appeal.  Salad was served with hot rolls and butter- yummy, but nothing out of the ordinary.  Just wasted space in my stomach that could be reserved for the rest of the meal.

Now for the entrée.  Unfortunately, my entrée was a daily special so I can’t retrieve the description and I’m not sure that it can be ordered on a regular basis (so I’ll try not to gloat too much about how wonderful it was).  That being said, I chose the Surf and Turf special.  Wow.  Instead of your standard chunk of beef, I was served tender flank steak that had been marinated in some sort of Asian marinade.  The citrusy notes perfectly complimented the side of citrus risotto that was cooked to perfection.  I might have to try and recreate the citrus risotto at a later date because I think it could be the perfect starch side for some summer meals.  The “surf” part of the meal was one of the most incredible pieces of halibut I’ve ever had in a restaurant.  It was lightly seasoned and perfectly seared, locking in all the moisture.  The fish completely fell apart but in the best way possible; it was so tender and juicy!  The final component was a toasted garlic crostini that was seasoned with dried parsley and a surprising dusting of chili powder.  This was one of those meals that left me completely depressed when it was all gone.  Yes, it was that good.

And what type of wine do you drink with this type of meal, you may be asking?  Michael Alberini’s suggested Harmony Chardonnay that the restaurant described as having “tropical aromas and flavors with a vein of vanilla in the mid-palate from the oak aging, then light citrus to accent the finish – outstanding work with this varietal.”  And I honestly can’t add much to the description- they accurately described it.  Looking for an excellent, light Chardonnay for the summer?  This is it.

Bottom line: if you find yourself in the Youngstown, Ohio area, Michael Alberini’s Restaurant and Wine Shop is worth checking out!

Stay tuned for some more restaurant review coming up.  I’ll be in San Francisco for a week soon and fully intend on staking out some local joints!!

Categories: American, Restaurants, Wine | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Create a free website or blog at