Monday, January 12, 2009

Mock Vegetable Risotto

The new vegetarian recipes continue! Are you excited? I am. And a little scared. I'm branching out beyond my comfort zone and using zucchini tonight. I don't like zucchini, and I never have. Just ask my mom. She and my dad love zucchini and always knew people that grew it in the summer and had too much and would pass it along to us (how's that for a run-on sentence?!). She tried to sneak it into everything. My mom wasn't ever a baker (she said she didn't want to have cookies around because she'd eat them, which as a child I never understood but now I completely get!), so when my brother and I came home one day and found a batch of cookies on the counter, we were understandably skeptical. Yup--she had put zucchini in them. But, I'm going to try and embrace the zucchini because a lot of the vegetarian recipes I've found include it. I figure it can't be that bad mixed in with other stuff, right? Right?!??! I sure hope so.

This is another recipe from the almost-got-rid-of-it vegetarian cookbook. I had slated it for last week and then decided I'd do something else instead and wait to make it until red peppers were on sale. But, when I got to the grocery store last week, they were on sale! So I got one and the zucchini, but then I never made it, which worked out great for this week because that was one less dinner I needed to figure out when planning my meals.

By the way, I'm trying to use up stuff I have on hand this week, which is kind of killing me because I want to be using all my new cookbooks. The three I got for Christmas weren't enough--I bought another Giada cookbook and the new Barefoot Contessa. I haven't even had a chance to sit down and read through them yet. Arrgh! I hate having unread cookbooks!

Mock Vegetable Risotto
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 medium onion, minced
1 cup converted white rice
2-1/4 cup vegetable stock
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 red bell pepper, cored and finely diced
1 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise into sixths and thinly sliced
1/4 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
1/2 cup seeded, diced tomato, either fresh or canned
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
liberal seasoning of freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsp white wine or dry vermouth
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1 Tbsp minced fresh basil

Heat the butter in a 3-4 quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes. Stir in the rice and saute for 2 minutes, stirring often. Pour in the vegetable stock and salt and cover the pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Do not let it brown. Stir in the red pepper and saute 3 minutes. Add the zucchini and fennel and cook 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the tomato and saute 2 minutes. Stir in the peas and a generous seasoning of freshly ground pepper. Remove the pan from the heat.

After the rice has cooked about 17 minutes, it should be tender, not mushy, and there should be a little stock left over that has not been absorbed. At this point, stir in the wine and then all the sauteed vegetables.

Sprinkle in the two cheeses and the basil, then gently stir to incorporate them. Cook 1 minute and serve.


I don't have any converted rice, so I'm going to use brown. I'll let you in on a secret--I have a hard time making white rice. I don't know what it is, but it always comes out too sticky and over-cooked, no matter how long I cook it for. I do much better with brown rice. I prefer brown, but I keep white on hand for those nights where I forget to start the brown rice early enough. Apparently, Uncle Ben's rice is converted, so I looked up the cooking directions for that. It says cook 20 minutes then remove from heat and let sit 5 minutes, so I figure I'll stop my brown rice from cooking about 5-7 minutes before it's supposed to be done. Actually I'll probably just check it after 30 minutes and every five minutes after that. I don't have any white wine, but I do have dry vermouth. I think. I'm pretty sure I bought it at Trader Joe's one time and haven't ever used it. Either that or I bought marsala wine. Now I'm not sure which I bought. I'll have to check. I doubt the husband would mind having to stop for wine on his way home, if I need it.


This was really yummy. At first I thought it was just okay, but it grew on me as I ate it. The husband at first said he thought it was only "so-so" and that it would be better with some seafood added into it. I told him that defeated the vegetarian aspect of it, then he said for a vegetarian dinner it was pretty good and one we should have again. My rice ended up cooking for close to 45 minutes I think it was. I busted out a little algebraic equation to figure an approximate cooking time based on the cooking time listed for converted rice compared to brown rice. I'm a geek, what can I say. My equation said equivalent cooking time would be about 42 minutes, and I think that was about right on. I'll be adding this one in to the vegetarian dinner rotation for sure. It was really easy to put together which I love.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, it was cream sherry I bought at Trader Joe's. Oops. I think Jen B. bought vermouth that trip, and that's what I was thinking of. I told you were entirely too co-dependent.

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