Monday, April 27, 2009

Risotto Night

farI'm sure my blog buddies have heard this lament many times. "Waah wah. I live in the northeast and can't get fresh local produce all year because of that inconvenient thing known as winter. Waah wah. Farmer's markets don't open until the middle of summer. WAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!"

Of course I'm lying. I'm totally being lazy. There is an indoor farmer's market going on right in my town and it's been open all winter long. It is also open Saturday morning - the biggest stretch of free time I have all week. Yes, I do tend to use that stretch of free time to do errands and laundry and housecleaning, but then agin, it's just a couple of blocks away from my home, so it's not as if I don't have time to run over there and see what they have while the clothes are in the dryer. Most Saturday mornings, I just plain forget that it's there. It's my own fault.

This weekend was different. It was a beautiful warm spring day. My neighborhood was awash with color and flowers and all types of beautiful natural things.

I wanted and needed some fresh produce.

I headed to the church where the market is held. Let's have a look inside.

Don't you just love all that healthful food they sell at farmer's markets?

Eek. It's the pickle man. Stay away from pickle salesmen. You will not be able to resist. (After all, look what happened to Amy Irving in Crossing Delancey).

I'll share some photos of my bounty. I bought mixed greens, giant carrots (which I am obliged to share with my four-legged stinky babies), leeks, fresh eggs, artisinal cheese, and I decided to try something new - pea shoots (yes, you will be rewarded with a recipe once you read through this tedious blog).

There may have been, ummmm..something from one of those many tables of baked goods. Well....maybe a mini pie or two or a cookie or three. I mean, my hubby loves black and whites and I'm a sucker for linzer tarts and all that.

So about those pea shoots. What are they? How do I use? Can I eat anything with the word "pea" in it? Would it taste like peas when cooked?

I decided to incorporate my findings into a nice risotto. Risotto is good with just about everything.

A big green monster on the plate, but pretty tasty. The pea shoots didn't taste too much like peas, although they do have a little of that spinach effect on your teeth.

I'm afraid I didn't measure all the veg, but it doesn't have to be exact. The fun of risotto is playing with your flavors.

Leek, Mushroom, and Pea Shoot Risotto

1.5 cups arborio or other short grain rice
5 cups chicken broth
2 Tbl butter
2 Tbl olive oil
1-2 leeks
1/2 cup white wine
8 oz. musrhooms, sliced
3-4 cups pea shoots
Copious amounts of parmesan cheese, grated
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut leeks in small pieces. Place in a bowl of water and let the grit sink to the bottom. Drain. If you cut the leeks up before you wash them, you don't have to worry so much about getting in between the leaves.
In a small saucepan, bring chicken broth to a simmer and keep warm.
In a large saucepan heat butter and olive oil. Add leeks and cook until soft. Add mushrooms and cook until they are soft.
Add rice and stir to coat. Cook until they appear a bit translucent. Add wine and cook until absorbed.
Add a ladleful of stock and stir frequently until absorbed. Once it has absorbed add another ladleful and stir. Keep adding stock and stirring until it has all absorbed, the rice is tender but still al dente, and the risotto takes on a creamy consistency.
Remove from heat and stir in lots of parmesan. Add salt and pepper if you think it needs it.


Bellini Valli said...

I would never have thought to add the pea shoots to my risotto. I always have leftovers after I am tired of them in my salads. Thanks for sharing your market with us:D

noble pig said...

How lucky you are to have a pickle man at the market, I would kill for that!

And the risotto...well aren't you awesome to put forth the great Spring risotto!

Jeff said...

Jealous I am one of the people that is constantly whining all year round about the lack of fresh produce and the fact the major farmer's market does not open till summer. Oh yeah and it is 20 minute drive away.

Beautiful pictures and making me anxious for one to start. I keep meaning to e-mail them and ask why so late in the year. I know a couple of the farmers use greenhouses so their spring stuff like lettuce, radishes, etc are done.

Lore said...

But I want to go to the pickle salesmen and buy ALLLLL the pickles. In my culture there's this tradition of only eating pickles during winter. Why on Earth? I could never understand it.
The risotto looks creamy and delicious, great idea adding the pea shoots.

The Duo Dishes said...

Pea shoots are beyond us. Never would've thought of that. Leeks are our very, very good friends though. How can you not love a leek?

Sara said...

Looks great to me. I love pea shoots, and the only place I can find them is at the farmer's market.

we are never full said...

looks good. i wonder what the pea shoots taste like raw. maybe you could try throwing some of the pea shoots in at the last minute into your risotto so they kind of go a bit al dente? i bet the texture would be nice and the flavor may be a bit different? i love those big, pink trees.

Donna-FFW said...

Sounds like one delicious risotto. I have to practice my skills at that.. yours looks wonderful. I have to perfect my timing.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Val - Give it a shot. I think I need to do the opposite and if I try pea shoots again, they will go in a salad.

Cathy - Beware our pickle man! He is extremely persuasive. He will sell you more pickles than you will know what to do with!

Jeff - Yeah. It's tough to live in a place where winter lasts so long. I read the blogs of folks in the south and the west coast and how they started having fresh produce a month ago and it's just so frustrating. Even though I have a local farmer's market (which I've been ignoring) it doesn't have much in the way of actual produce. I do know of a place that uses greenhouses to grow lettuces and greens all winter, but it's an hour drive away!

Lore - I would hate that tradition. I love pickles all year long, particuarly with my sandwiches or in my potato salad. The local pickle man will be happy to accomodate your desire for all of his pickles. I can attest to that!

DD - I love leeks too. I had to have them when I saw them at the market.

Sara- I only ever see pea shoots at the farmer's market too. Maybe the regular stores don't want to seel them because of people like me who are afraid of peas?

WANF - the only thing I would have against raw pea shoots is the fact that they coat your teeth like spinach, but I think I will still venture to try them raw (other than the nibbling I did while cooking).

Donna - The secret to good risotto is not to assume it's hard. You just kind of have to do it casually. When there is little to no liquid in the pot, add more. I tend to like my rice a little less al dente than some other people though. I might cook it longer than chefs in a restaurant would.

The Blonde Duck said...

I personally adore the healthy food they sell at farmer's markets.

And I'm so glad you liked my story! :)

Sue said...

Black and White Cookies?!! Forget the vegetables, just get those.

I LOVED the pictures. Wow, a pickle guy! Amy Irving didn't need him anymore after her 100 million dollar settlement, but the rest of us could always use a good new dill pickle (my fav).

Risotto is the best thing for using up vegetables. Yours looked great!