Sunday, April 25, 2010
Italian Food Sunday: Sicilian Salad and Risotto Primavera
Good Evening. I hope you are all having a great weekend. Ours has been a little slow and lazy, but in a very restorative way. We both feel like we are rested enough to start another week. Not that we wouldn’t prefer a much longer weekend. ;-)
We have decided to change dinner with my parents into more of a late lunch, early dinner for a while and see how that works. Why do people like to eat so early once they get old? Anybody know the answer?
For supper today we had a little Italian food since it is our comfort food of choice. Given that it is spring I was in the mood for pasta primavera. But I wanted to make a healthy version so I made barley in the risotto style and added in fresh veggies at the end so that they would retain both color and nutrition. To go with the risotto we had a quick Sicilian salad of fennel, red onions, citrus and a little sliced olive. Both dishes disappeared fairly quickly so I know they were enjoyed by both the omnis and vegans at the table. Here is how I made the salad:
Sicilian Orange and Fennel Salad
1 small red onion, peeled and very thinly sliced
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 fennel bulb, sliced in half top to bottom and thinly sliced into half moons (reserve stems for risotto recipe below, reserve a few fronds for garnish)
2 large oranges, or 4 small ones, peeled and sliced into rounds, seeds removed
4 olives, pitted and slivered
Salt and pepper, if desired
Combine the onion and vinegar and toss to coat. Add the fennel and refrigerate until needed. To serve, place the onion and fennel on the base of the plate and top with the orange slices and one olive thinly slivered. Top with fennel fronds for garnish. Season with salt and pepper if desired.
Amount Per Serving
Calories - 79.71
Calories From Fat (8%) - 6.26
Total Fat - 0.74g
Saturated Fat - 0.08g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 70.79mg
Potassium - 414.87mg
Total Carbohydrates - 17.75g
Fiber - 4.65g
Sugar - 8.6g
Protein - 1.94g
This is a classic Sicilian salad combination. Normally it contains quite a bit of olive oil, but we think it tastes great with just a touch of sliced olive. It is one of my favorite salads. The sweetness of the oranges plays well with the saltiness of the olives. I also like the tenderness of the oranges against the crispness of the fennel. This is a very nice salad. I hope you give it a try.
To go with our salad we had a simple risotto primavera made with barley since that is healthier. Here is what I did:
Barley Risotto Primavera
1 yellow onion, peeled and finely diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
4 stalks celery, finely diced
½ cup fennel stems, thinly sliced (optional but a good addition if you have them from making the salad)
¼ cup water to sauté the aromatics
2 cups barley
Water or light veg stock to cook the barley (heat 4 quarts to start)
¼ cup nutritional yeast
1 cup frozen peas
¾ pound asparagus, woody ends removed, remaining veg thinly sliced in 1/16 inch circles, tips reserved for garnish
4 cups spinach, julienned
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 tablespoons Italian parsley, finely minced
2 tablespoons fresh tarragon, finely minced
Salt and pepper to taste
Water sauté the aromatics (water, garlic and celery) until tender. Then add the barley and about 1 cup of water and bring the heat to medium high and begin stirring. When the water has mostly evaporated add another cup of water. The first few additions of water will be quickly absorbed. You do not need to stir constantly, only every few minutes. You are stirring for two reasons: to keep the barley from sticking, and to create a thick starchy sauce. When you stir you are rubbing the grains of barely together and starch is being released into the cooking liquid. This is how you end up with a creamy risotto without cream.
Continue to add water, a cup or so at time until the barley is the texture you desire. I cooked mine for 45 minutes over fairly high heat. When you like the texture of the barley add the remaining ingredients (except the asparagus tips) and turn off the heat and put the lid on the pan. You want the warmth of the risotto to heat the veggies but not cook them. A little crunch from the veggies is good to add textural variation to the dish. Taste for salt and pepper and serve with a few asparagus tips on top.
Amount Per Serving
Calories - 347.83
Calories From Fat (4%) - 14.29
Total Fat - 1.6g
Saturated Fat 0.3g 2%
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 182.8mg
Potassium - 699.7mg
Total Carbohydrates - 69.66g
Fiber - 15.19g
Sugar - 3.41g
Protein - 11.51g
If you like risotto made with rice but you want something that is healthier this is good choice. It has a lot of flavor, more than you would expect. One of the nice parts of this dish is that it reheats exceptionally well. Dan loves when I make barley risotto so he has leftovers for lunch. This dish would also be good with a little almond feta on top if you like
There is something about a gray day that just doesn’t inspire me to be very productive. We have had another very relaxing day at our house, unless you count housework that is. How two adults make so much laundry is completely beyond me.
Tomorrow I have a few things I want to accomplish so I may not be around until the afternoon. But overall this coming week should be a good one and you should expect many posts from me.
I am actually going to try to develop a menu for the week. This is something I have tried to do for years but somehow it never seems to stick. But I am going to try it again and see if I can make it work this time. I will keep you posted on my progress. This leads to a question. How many of you stick to a weekly menu? If this is something that you manage to make work do you have any tips for sticking to the plan?
For now I am going to do a few things around the house and relax with a mug of green tea. I hope you are having a relaxing weekend too. Talk to you tomorrow.