Monthly Archives: April 2011

Saffron Shrimp Risotto

You know when you’ve tasted something so incredible that just the thought of it sends your senses into total ecstasy? Something you know that you could eat every day for the rest of your life and be perfectly content? For me, that taste was saffron shrimp risotto in Alberobello. For a thousand reasons I love Italy.. and 999 of them are culinary related.

I soo wanted this dish to bring back that experience. Maybe its not the same in Seattle, but trying to reconstruct a recipe of Apulian Italian fare  is like trying to recreate a Picasso. There are no cookbooks. There are no recipes. Still, very much old-world, your bests bet is to hover and take notes wildly while observing the preparation. You’ll likely end up with something like–a handful of this, a drizzle of that, two more handfuls of this, a sprinkle, a dollup, and then stir. Buon appetito. Meals are prepared by memory, passed from mother to daughter and varying from household to household. So charming, yet frustrating if you ever want to bring your favorite meals back to The States.

Longing for this risotto in my own Seattle kitchen, I wrote down the ingredients I knew–risotto, saffron, fava beans, shrimp, olive oil and cheese. Then I attempted to write a recipe, referencing several risottos on the web. The result was delicious, but not quite as euphoric as that day in Puglia. Maybe it was the whole experience that left such an impression. Maybe it was the Prosecco. Or maybe its my subconscious’ way of telling me I need to go back.

Saffron & Shrimp Risotto
4 cups shrimp stock
1 tsp Spanish saffron
1/4 cup sweet onion
2 T olive oil
2 tsp butter
3/4 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup rough chopped shitaake mushrooms
1/2 pound shrimp, cleaned
2 T Pecorino Romano
1/4 cup dry fava beans
1 cup water
1 T flour
salt and pepper
fresh parsley

Start with the fava beans, as they will take 2 hours to slow cook (so worth the creamy result). Add beans to salted water–boil and reduce to simmer. After one hour add flour. After two hours remove from heat and puree in food processor. While beans are cooking, bring the shrimp stock to a rolling boil in a saucepan, then reduce to low heat and add saffron. Simmer for 5 minutes. In a skillet, melt the butter in olive oil. Sauté onion for two minutes. Add mushrooms and cook for another two minutes, add shrimp and cook two more minutes. Next stir in the risotto and slowly begin to add the broth, allowing rice to absorb it as you go (the rice should take about 20 minutes). Once risotto is al dente, pour in rich and creamy fava bean puree. Top with Pecorino and parsley.

Fava Fun Facts: Oh-so-nutritious!! There are 10g fiber and protein in just 1/4 cup (dry)!! Make a note–any time you have something starchy like risotto, its good to balance the meal with something high fiber to stabilize blood sugar. Aside from fiber, these beans are loaded with folate and manganese– ahem, healthy bones, efficient metabolism, and beneficial to blood pressure. Yes, please! Might I suggest squeeeezing these beans into your monthly meal plan? The trick is tracking them down. I finally found fava beans at Whole Foods (naturally). And from Bob’s Red Mill (of course). So what else can you dooooo with fava beans? Not to worry. I will be sharing more recipes, as they will certainly be gracing my table more often. 🙂

Have a favoloso Sunday!!

The most memorable meal you’ve ever eaten?
The last ingredient you really had to hunt down?


Filed under Healthy Cooking/Eating, Recipes

Lamb Chops with Olive & Pomegranate Tapenade

Delicious! Enough said. I’ve been wanting to make some version of this tapenade ever since seeing it used in an episode of Worst Cook in America. I discovered the show over the holidays and was instantly hooked. It’s totally amusing and surprisingly educational, eeeeeven for the novis homecook. In this particular episode I remember the contendants separating lamb chops from a full rack, having to slice each one exactly the same so that they would cook evenly. What pressure. I decided to skip this part. Instead, I used my fancy-shmancy new chef vocab and asked my Whole Foods butcher to split a rack (which always has 8 ribs) into double ribs with frenched ends. It worked like a charm. He didn’t  even look at me cross-eyed, and I felt super cool placing my order. 🙂

So this tapenade, it calls for pomegranate seeds, and I know better than to search for a pom in March, so when I found  frozen pomegranate seeds at Trader Joe’s I was uber-excited and suddenly reminded of this recipe. The added perk was no dealing with citrus splatter. Yippy!! Unfortunately, when I thawed the pom seeds they looked and tasted thawed. This called for improvisation. Before I had a chance to consider my options the boy had his shoes, keys and was out the door to find me a pomegranate (I think my heart just skipped a beat). But with no luck, he returned with Pom, 100% pomegranate juice. Brilliant. Even better than pomegranate seeds.. straight up pom syrup! Recipe as follows. Please, do enjoy.

Lamb with Olive & Pomegranate Tapenade
1 cup Greek olives
3/4 cup walnuts
1 garlic clove
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
2/3 cup pomegranate juice
1 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 T extra virgin olive oil
dash of salt

1 rack of lamb
2 T olive oil
salt and pepper

Start t with a rough chop  of the olives. Add the walnuts (first chopped and dry toasted over medium heat for 4 minutes). Add garlic, cilantro, lemon juice, and olive oil. In a skillet, heat the pomegranate juice and allow it to reduce to half the liquid, pour over tapenade.

Rub chops with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Let them rest at room temp for an hour before cooking. Then, in a hot cast iron skillet brown on each side for 3 minutes. Move to the oven and cook for 5 minutes at 375 (for medium rare). Plate and enjoy.

This was a fun Sunday afternoon lunch. And although I forewent pasta (my first love) I did not abandon my love for Mediterranean cuisine. This has the Med written all over it.. lamb, olives, nuts, citrus.. delish! Also fun, was shooting with my new Nikon D3100. Love. It. One of my favorite ways to spend a lazy evening is ogling food photography. Now I can work on making my own photos ogle-worthy! *one can hope*  I do adore photos by Jessica at How Sweet It Is and Olga and Mango and Tomato among other food blogs. Well, have a fabulous, fabulous day, and tell me, what are you cooking up this weekend?


Filed under Recipes, Uncategorized