Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Springtime Risotto with Fava Beans and Asparagus

Springtime Risotto with Fava Beans and Asparagus at Paprika Red

I've been intimidated by fava beans before. These big beans that you have to peel twice: once out of the pod, then a second time out of the skin. (The internet says blanching them briefly in boiling water, then shocking them in ice water helps the skins slide off easier; you can also peel them as-is while watching TV, like I did.) It seems like a lot of effort for little payoff. I was wrong, the payoff is big! Now I'm a convert, and even my bean-picky husband liked the dish (a lot). So creamy and mild, they have a wonderful green yet slightly nutty flavor that goes well with the freshness of asparagus and lemon.

Risotto is always made out to be a lot of work, but I don't really think it's as hard as it can seem. Sure, you have to stir, and it does demand your frequent attention, but in 30 minutes you can have delicious risotto while only tending to one pot, and to me that's easier than trying to orchestrate a separate protein, starch, and veg.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Fresh Corn Soup with Basil and Tarragon

Fresh Corn Soup with Basil and Tarragon at Paprika Red

This is definitely one of those cases of simplicity is best. This soup is so good, I having a hard time getting past the superlatives of "really good" and "yummy". It's silky on the tongue, light and almost frothy, it's sweet from the corn, it has a little of that mild green bite from basil, and underneath it all is this tingly licorice from the tarragon. But this sounds weird when I write it out, so trust me when I say, it just works. All these little notes balance harmoniously, and while it tastes light and fresh, it satisfies deep down like soup should. You don't need to serve it piping hot, and you don't need to serve a lot, although I went back for seconds, and maybe a little more after that. It would make a great amuse for a summer dinner, for just you, or 10 friends. If you're feeling generous enough to share, that is.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

What To Do with Kohlrabi?

Are you familiar with kohlrabi? I sure am not. I have this thing, though, where if I see a new vegetable I've never tried, I just have to pick it up. I can't pass it by. It nags at me when it's unfamiliar, it whispers "why don't you just take me home and figure out what to do with me later". Usually this works in my favor, like with yummy long beans or or bitter-sweet broccoli raab. Sometimes I just don't like it, like with Chinese spinach, although that's rare. So you can imagine that these funny looking veggies were so compelling, with their knobby bases and startling color. I recognized the name kohlrabi, but I didn't even know what they were - root vegetable, or something else? (Turns out they're a brassica - related to cabbage and broccoli - and not a root vegetable.)

I took them home and looked for some recipes. I didn't find much, though I did find several people commenting that they grew up eating them raw. Well, that's a start, so with a sharp knife I carefully topped the long stalks, cut off the bottom, and peeled the outside. I cut a sliver, and was surprised. It was crisp and watery, like jicama or a raw potato. It was mild in flavor, a little bit sweet, a little bit nutty. Another taste. A little like a cross between a broccoli stem, a cabbage, and an apple. Another taste. Truth be told, I was no longer sampling, just eating. It was really tasty!

Friday, June 4, 2010

An Easy, Simple, and Elegant Salad with Corn and Golden Beets

Fresh, tasty, and beautiful - raw corn and beet salad

It's early June, and it's raining. Today's high is expected to be a mere 52° Farenheit, a far cry from the normal 68°. I've been hearing lots of record weather in the last few years... record snows two winters ago, record highs last summer, record mild winters, and now, the wettest stretch of rain in the "dry season", or so says the weatherman. All I know is, my outdoor lounge chairs, BBQ, tomatoes, and me, are all crying for some sunshine.

I know, fast forward two or three months and I'll probably be muttering about it being too hot. I can only hope that we don't have a 100° summer like we did last year, us pale and pasty PNWers (without A/C) can hardly take that kind of weather. But I would happily take a few days in the low 70s. In the spirit of looking forward to the warm weather, and the abundance of produce that comes with it, here's a beautiful and easy no-cook side dish.