Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Veggie Risotto Stuffed Peppers

Risotto is one of those satisfying, stick to your ribs, kinda foods. The kind that comfort you on a cold rainy Vancouver day. The kind that hug you from the insides when you're feeling blue. Risotto is a beautiful thing. 

Up until today, Risotto was also an enigmatic mystery; one of those dishes i'd spend $18.95 on at a restaurant, but one I never knew I could make. 

On Friday, I went to a Gala for the the Lynn Valley Day celebration and to celebrate the LVCA's 100th anniversary. At the buffet (Catered by Tommy's <3) was this secret vegetarian dish hidden under a glass lid that not many people saw at first. It was a delish stuffed pepper. most of the people at my table went for seconds and tried it and loved it... I decided I had to try to make it! 

Thank you Tommy's Caters for the inspiration!! www.tommycaters.com 

Risotto Base
2 Tetra Packs of Organic Broth (I used two 900ML Campbell's Organic Chicken Broth you can use Veggie Broth if you want to make this totally Veggie) (RESERVE TWO CUPS FOR LATER)
1 medium sweet onion diced
2 T Minced Garlic
2 cups Arborio Rice
Chili Pepper Flakes to Taste
Shredded Parmesan 

1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup diced zucchini
1 cup matchstick carrots (out of a bag, or dice up your own carrots)
1 cup frozen peas
(whatever else you might want? maybe broccoli? maybe asparagus?)

Stuffed Peppers Stuff
4-5 red peppers (or orange or yellow)
your favorite jar of tomato sauce
italian cheese mix

Heat up the stock in a sauce pan. This doesn't have to boil, and you can just keep it at room temperature if you'd prefer.

In a big, tall, pan (I used my biggest, skillet with the really tall sides, I think it's 15"?) I did a couple rounds of the pan with EVOO. add the diced sweet onions and sauté until softened. Add the Garlic and Chilli Pepper Flakes and continue to sauté (careful not to burn the garlic!) Add the Arborio Rice and mix thoroughly into the onions and garlic until the rice gets translucent. Add a couple ladles of broth and scrap up the stuck on rice off the bottom of the pan. Mix frequently. When the broth is absorbed, add a couple more ladles of broth, stir frequently until the broth is again absorbed, and repeat process until all the broth is used up (except the reserved cups) and the risotto is soft and oatmealesque. 

Once you get to this point, add the parmesan and mix thoroughly throughout the Risotto, add one cup of broth to loosen things up. Add the prepped veggies (everything but the frozen peas) to the hot risotto and the last cup of broth. Mix thoroughly, turn off the heat and cover so the steam can cook up the veggies. Throw in the frozen sweet peas, recover and let it hang out. 

While the risotto is hanging out with the lid on, you can get the peppers ready. 

Cut the peppers in half (top to bottom so it sits on it's side) cut out the insides, wash and take off the sticker!!! Put cut side up in a baking dish. Squish them in if you must. Put into a hot oven under Broil to soften and slightly get some colour. Take them out when you feel they're softer and lightly charred. Pepper juice will have collected in the pepper cups. Pour it into the risotto (waste not!).

Give the risotto one last thorough mix through and spoon it into the pepper cups. put a tablespoon of sauce on top of each risotto cup, and crown with some italian shredded cheese (I used the kraft stuff with Mozza, Parm, Emmental and Provolone)

Put into a hot Oven and bake til the cheese is brown and bubbly. 

Serve on a bed of more risotto and a nice salad. 

You could sauté the veggies before adding it to the risotto, I didn't and I didn't feel I was missing something. 

You could skip the cheese and sauce

You could skip the peppers, it was so delish on it's own! Heck! You could dice up the peppers and add a cup to the risotto instead!

You could cook up some crumbled Italian Sausage, drain and add it to the party. 

You could make smaller portions as a side dish for chicken, lamb or beef kebabs, maybe a piece of salmon?

Mix things up and use what ever veggies you can get your hands on.

I didn't add any seasoning, asides from the chilli pepper flakes, since I figured the broth had enough. Sprinkle as much or as little chilli pepper flakes as you'd like. 

I didn't add any fat, besides the EVOO and cheese; you could finish it off with some butter!

Add Saffron!

Make it vegan and omit the cheese!

Either way, Risotto is clearly way easier to make than I thought it was going to be! Looks like we'll be eating this more often!