Lactose free, Rice, Veggies

Spelt Salad with Roasted Tomatoes, Garlic and Thyme

I’m always looking for new ideas to use spelt, barley and other substitutes of rice, because I love their crunchy consistency and their flavor, that in some way reminds me of nuts. The spelt salad I’m going to tell you about is one of my favorites.

Take the smell and colors of summer in the Mediterranean, then add a pinch of rural home cooking, and you’ll obtain a simple dish, but full of flavors and nutrients that will give you the energy you need to live your day in the right way.

Of course, you need time to cook the spelt and roast the tomatoes and garlic, but I assure you that this spelt salad is worth it! Plus, you can also eat it cold, just adding some fresh extra virgin olive oil and some leaves of basil. Yes, cooking your lunch break can be THAT EASY.

If you don’t like spelt, you can use bargain or brown rice, the result will be awesome anyway! And if you’re wandering about the roasted garlic, don’t panic! Your social relationships will not be affected by it! The garlic cooked in this way loses its strong and – sometimes- unpleasant flavor, and it becomes a delicate and digestible cream that will make your spelt salad unforgettable!

Spelt Salad with Roasted Tomatoes, Garlic and Thyme (4 servings)

1 kg mixed tomatoes

2 bulbs of garlic

400 gr. spelt

extra virgin olive oil

sea salt

black pepper

a bunch of thyme

1 tbsp of honey

zest of 1 lemon

 

LET’S DO IT! 

Preheat the oven at 180° C ( 356°F).

Take a baking tray and cover it with baking paper. Then cut the biggest tomatoes in half, and leave the small ones as they are. Also cut the bulbs of garlic in half, without peeling them.

Place the vegetables on the baking tray, and season them with thyme, sea salt, black pepper, the honey, the zest of lemon and a generous supply of extra virgin olive oil. Roast them for about 40 minutes.

In the meantime, cook the spelt as suggested on the package. When it’s done, put it in a large pan and add some of the tomatoes (leave one or two of the big ones to decorate). Take the garlic and squeeze it on the spelt. The cloves will be creamy and very sweet. Now add the sauce you’ll find in the baking tray, then mix your spelt salad.

Decorate every bowl with a roasted tomato and, if you like, add some extra virgin olive oil and fresh leaves of basil.

 

Gluten free, Rice

Risotto with Orange Juice and Taleggio Cheese

After a long -forced- break from my beloved Books and Crumbs, I’m back on this everyday cooking diary with a new recipe! This time it’s risotto, babe. My true love, my one and only risotto, seasoned with an unexpected mélange of winter and summer flavors.

It’s the beginning of springtime, and the air is filled with the overwhelming perfume of wisteria and mimosa. I wonder how can people possibly say that Venice stinks. It really doesn’t. You should try walking by the gardens of Palazzo Franchetti in these sweet evenings of April. Jasmine, roses, the salty aroma that comes from the lagoon.

This time of year is one of the loveliest for cooking. First of all, there are amazing fresh ingredients to have fun with – asparagus, fresh wild herbs, edible flowers and several firsts of the season. Moreover, I love mixing winter products with the tender flavors of springtime. I think it’s a good way to create a tasty bridge between the two seasons!

My mom gave me this recipe two days ago, and I have to say it has been a great success. I know oranges are winter fruits, but I usually connect their fresh an sour flavor with summer. Taleggio, on the other hand, is a creamy, soft cheese that we use with winter ingredients. Some examples – with Trevisano radicchio, polenta, Porcini mushrooms or sausages.

The combination of fresh orange juice and Taleggio cheese is surprising! Use the orange juice, together with chicken broth, to cook the risotto. Then add the cheese in the final phase of the cooking process, when you stir the risotto – off the fire – to give it its characteristic creamy texture.

Risotto with Orange Juice and Taleggio Cheese (4 servings)

400 gr. rice Arborio or Carnaroli

2 oranges (juice and zest)

1 lt. chicken broth

200 gr. Taleggio cheese

30 gr. Parmesan cheese

40 gr. butter

black pepper

sea salt

 

LET’S DO IT! 

Bring the chicken broth to a boil. In the mean time, melt the butter in a large casserole. When it’s completely melted, add the rice and brown it for 4 minutes.

In the meantime, zest the oranges, then squeeze out the juice. Add half of the zest and half of the orange juice to the rice. Begin to add the hot chicken broth and keep stirring the rice – stirring all the time will give to your risotto a nice, creamy texture.

Alternate orange juice and chicken broth while cooking the risotto, which should cook for about 20 minutes. The rice should remain al dente. 

When the rice is done, add a small piece of butter, the Parmesan cheese and the Taleggio cheese, off the fire. Keep stirring, then add some salt – if necessary – and a generous quantity of freshly grounded black pepper. Add the orange zest on top, to serve.

 

 

Rice, Veggies

Pumpkin Risotto with Fried Tuscan Kale

Free the pumpkins! Let them flourish on the fields with their bright colors and funny shapes! Make kilos of pumpkin risotto! I love this time of the year, and I’m an enthusiast of this knotted, almost Jurassic vegetable. The pumpkin is versatile and healthy. It’s sweet but it doesn’t make you gain weight (thanks a lot). I mean, pumpkins are great! They should be honored with a sort of prize for the best vegetable of the year, or something like that.

Now that you’ve got the point – yes, I’m desperately in love with pumpkins – I would love sharing this recipe with you. It’s a quite traditional pumpkin risotto, but with a twist. In fact, to contrast its intense sweetness I’ll serve it with fried Tuscan kale, which has a bitter and salty flavor.

Tuscan kale is quite new on my table. As a matter of fact, I’ve started exploring its potentialities only recently. This type of kale is mostly used in Tuscany (duh…) and it’s the main ingredient of a traditional soup called Ribollita, with carrots, beans, Savoy cabbage and onions. I’ve made it, and it’s a fantastic soup. But these wrinkled leaves give excellent results also used as a side dish, with anchovies, garlic and chili, or to make pesto.

But fried…this is another story. Its flavor changes, it becomes more similar to cauliflower, but still keeping that elegant bitterness. You should try it. Believe me!

 

Pumpkin Risotto with Fried Tuscan Kale (4 servings)

240 gr. rice (arborio or vialone)

1 small onion

50 gr. unsalted butter

1 lt. broth

400 gr. pumpkin

4 small leaves Tuscan kale

50 gr. grated Parmesan cheese

1 tbsp. butter to make the rice creamy

the zest of a half lemon

a pinch of nutmeg

a few drops of balsamic vinegar (optional)

sunflower oil

 

LET’S DO IT! 

Bring the broth to a boil. Mince the onion and brown it with butter in a large casserole. Let it cook until it becomes transparent, then add the rice. Stir and toast it for about 3 minutes. Chop the pumpkin in very small pieces and add them to the rice. Mix the rice, adding a spoonful of broth at a time. The rice must absorb all the broth before you can add another spoonful of it.

While cooking the risotto, keep stirring: this will help releasing the starch that makes the risotto creamy. When the rice is cooked (not overcooked!), it’s time for the creamy-effect! Turn off the burner and add a bit of broth. Then add the lemon zest, the nutmeg, a tbsp of butter and the grated Parmesan cheese, then mix vigorously. Let it rest, covered, for 3 minutes. In the meantime, deep fry the Tuscan kale leaves in a casserole with sunflower oil.

Time to serve! Put the risotto in a soup plate, than arrange the fried Tuscan kale leaves on top of it and, if you like it, complete with few drops of balsamic vinegar. Enjoy!