Since it’s gray and rainy today, I figured I’d post something cheerful. James begged me to take these the other day, when it was sunny and gorgeous and he realized we really haven’t documented spring yet despite what feels like a million years in this town. I wonder if I’ll appreciate spring nearly as much when there’s no East Coast February equivalent to reinforce the point that it all could be much, much worse?
Filed under Not food, photos
Forgive the picture, but when I cook at night, the photos just don’t turn out as well as I’d like. If we were going to be here for more than a year, I’d build myself a light box or something. But for now? I’ll just tell you that this dish is worth trying, and prettier than you might think.
It’s a springtime risotto, and a weeknight take on a dish we had in NYC during restaurant week at the DB Bistro. That version was also a risotto, and also used a sort of arugula pesto (as far as I could tell) to make the dish a vibrant green color. Its sweetness was from butternut squash, which was appropriate for January but not quite right somehow for the start of spring. So I improvised: I sweetened some chicken broth with a bunch of carrots and used that as the base for the dish.
This isn’t a recipe so much as a formula. I find risotto pretty easy for a weeknight meal, especially when we’re short on ingredients. Yes, there is stirring involved, but not as much as you think … Just don’t turn up the heat too much.
** I’m on vacation at the moment, and wrote this post before I left. Be back at the end of May with more about my trip! **
Recipe after the jump.
The local farmer’s market is always full of pleasant surprises, but I think early Springtime, when everyone wants something — anything — fresh and local to eat, is when I find the most unusual ingredients offered up. It’s funny, because sometimes those running the stands are almost apologetic about their wares. I always try and make a point to go and find something new on these occasions, searching for signs advertising strange, exotic (but somehow local?) ingredients. This week, I came across a bag of incredibly fresh nettles, picked just that morning. See how pretty they are?
Nettles don’t exactly sound appetizing. When they get older, they remind you not to go near them if you happen to brush their skin. As I found, the little ones still manage to do the same; pulling them out of their careful wrapping sent little tingles of pain across my fingers, like a thousand tiny splinters. I suppose I’ve done worse when cooking before (and after the aloe vera leaf we brought back with us from the store today, these little prickles were child’s play). I had no idea what to do with them. The girl at the stand just said they tasted incredibly green, like springtime, and so I figured I’d just do something simple. A little lemon, and crushed coriander would make for a subtle and delicious flavor, coupled with paprika, garlic, shallots, and olive oil. Add a bit of pasta, and you have the kind of meal you should be eating after cracking open an amazing triple creme brie in the afternoon, after planting still more vegetables in the garden.
The pairing was quite good, in fact, and as for the nettles? They cook down into fresh, slightly firm, soft greens, which go nicely with the tang and slightly spicy aftertaste of the lemon and coriander pairing. The girl who sold them to me? She was right on. They taste of spring, just around the corner. And for the skeptics out there, James says they’re better than Brussels sprouts.