Asparagus + leek +  mushroom risotto

  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 5 cups water
  • .5 large onion
  • 1 leek
  • 1 bunch asparagus, grilled at 400F for 10 minutes
  • .5 cup dried mushrooms, reconstituted
  • salt, pepper, parmesan to taste
  1. Saute the onion until golden brown.
  2. Add rice; stir dreamily for a couple of minutes.
  3. Add the first 3 cups of water one by one, stirring regularly and replenishing the liquid as soon as it starts getting puny.  I know that this seems like a nuisance–but it won’t be, really, if you’re chopping the leeks and watching Rachel Maddow along the way.
  4. Dump in another cup of water, along with the leeks and mushrooms.
  5. You will know when the final cup is needed, just as everything is starting to look almost done.
  6. Top with asparagus and parmesan.

Ugly pie

December 10, 2009

Reader, I made an ugly pie.  Tasty as all get-out, but indisputably ugly.  You know: the kind that causes your colleagues to exclaim “What’s that?” when you pull it out for lunch–and not in a good way?

Baby portabella + butternut squash pie

  • 1 pie crust (yours or Pilsbury’s; I’m not going to judge)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1lb baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 butternut squash, microwaved (like this) and disemboweled
  • 1 14oz can roasted, diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 tablespoon chipotle pepper (or more, if you’re like me and like FIRE)
  • salt to taste
  • a toss of shredded cheese
  1. Sautee the onion, garlic, and mushrooms for a couple of minutes.
  2. Add the squash innards, tomatoes, salt, and chipotle pepper; stir well to combine.
  3. Pour the vegetable mixture into the pie crust, throw some cheese on top, and bake for 15-20 minutes at 350F.

So, there you have it: my delicious, homely pie.  But what’s missing?  Perhaps a sturdy leafy vegetable to add a pop of color?  Or maybe a coarsely chopped fennel bulb for some texture contrast?  Or should it all just go straight into the Bass-O-Matic?


I made my very first risotto several months ago.  Up to that point I had simply assumed that, given the chronic shortage of patience in our household, we wouldn’t be able to pull off all that standing and pouring and stirring.

Then, on an otherwise unremarkable June day, some vegetables and Arborio rice happened to meet in our kitchen almost by accident.   Thirty minutes later, we had a risotto–and the whole process had only taken up tiny, polite  segments of my evening!  Oh, if I had only known.

Fast forward past many a risotto between then and now, to this gray Sunday afternoon and a mostly wilted Swiss chard bouquet that cast woeful glances in my direction every time I opened the fridge.  Sure, I was up to the challenge…

  • 1 bunch of Swiss chard
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 4-5 whitecap mushrooms
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 cups of Arborio rice
  • approximately 5 cups of liquid (3 water, 2 chicken or vegetable broth)
  • ~1/3 cup of parmesan
  • 1 fistful of pine nuts
  • hearty pinches of a couple of dried herbs (say, tarragon and chives)
  • dashes of white pepper, black pepper, saffron, salt

If you’re playing along at home, here’s what to do:

  1. Give half a mushroom to your large cat to distract him.  (What?  No large cat threatening to eat you unless appeased with fresh produce in your house?  Where have we gone wrong.)
  2. Saute the onion, garlic, mushrooms, and yellow pepper with a touch of salt and black pepper.
  3. After ~2-3 minutes, add the chopped Swiss chard and a just a tiny splash of water.  Cover and leave it alone, on low, for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add the rice, seasonings, and ~1 cup of liquid.  Stir.  Go away.
  5. After 2-3 minutes, come back to see if your risotto is thirsty.  It will be.  Give it ~1/2 cup of liquid; stir; go away.
  6. Repeat.
  7. Repeat.
  8. When the liquid is gone and all sorts of soft and happy colors are grinning at you from the bottom of the pot, stir in some parmesan.
  9. You will want some toasted pine nuts on top, for a little crunch.