Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Comforting: Risotto with Rucola & Bresaola

Rucola Bresaola Risotto (01) by MeetaK

After all the lavish parties have been visited and gourmet meals and rich feasts tasted, savored and enjoyed there comes a time when every foodie turns to the simple, no-nonsense and undressed-up charms of comfort food.  It's like stepping out of those expensive designer high-heels and into the undemanding consolation of flip-flops.

While Wikipedia describes comfort food as:

"typically inexpensive, uncomplicated, and easy to prepare. Many people turn to comfort food for familiarity, emotional security, or special reward,"

I like to describe it as food that hugs you from the inside. In my opinion that is exactly what comfort food does. It reaches out to you, cutting through bad weather, bad moods, weariness or irritation and engulfs you in a soothing embrace, almost as if it were saying "There, there!" Suddenly, whatever you may be feeling or whatever your current situation is - tired traveler, overstretched homemaker, or troubled teenager - everything around you blurs out and vanishes. The first mouthfuls takes you straight back to your comfort zone - the familiar, the good and the soul-nourishing - to the time when all was well.

By the way, comfort foods should not be mistaken with favorite foods. Favorite foods are normally fancier and more opulent. These kind of foods are often associated with gorgeous locations or finer restaurants - like that Lobster Thermidor on the beach bar on St. Barth. To enjoy favorite foods people dress up, go to a party or visit their favorite restaurant.

In comparison, comfort food is enjoyed with no frills. It's not fussy, expensive or difficult to eat. I enjoy my comfort foods most in a simple inexpensive bowl, me wearing my "feel-good" pants and often sitting on the sofa. For me, comfort food rarely draws an exclamation, only an appreciative and eloquent silence of pure soothing comfort.

More often then not, my comfort food includes rice. I love the velvety caress of the warm, sticky, snowy-white mould of risotto, steaming in my favorite bowl. Even preparing this creamy dish comforts me, getting me into a state of meditation while stirring and pouring.  Making the perfect risotto is not as difficult as people say it is. It takes 15-20 minutes to make a basic risotto - just 15-20 minutes to enter your comfort zone. This risotto is actually my favorite. I use fresh and crispy rucola leaves sprinkled with bresaola to give a perfect texture and taste. 

Rucola 

Rucola (01) by MeetaK

Call it roquette, rocket, arugula or arugula, one thing I have to recommend is to give these petite greens a try. Rucola is an aromatic, peppery salad green and is very popular in Italian cuisine. It grows wild in Asia and all over the entire Mediterranean.

Rucola leaves are best gathered when they are young and they can be tossed into salads or soups, pastas or poultry, I love making a pesto out of them. Rucola is a rich source of iron as well as vitamins A and C, with a 1/2 cup serving having only two calories.

Storing and Selecting
Buy rucola with the roots still attached. It will lose its zest and flavor fast enough with them on - and even faster with them off. Look for bright, tender, fresh-looking leaves with no signs of yellowing or dark spots. They should not be at all limp.

Use rucola as soon as possible, as the flavor and texture will fade very fast. If you need to keep it a day or two, do not wash it or remove the roots. Sprinkle with a little water, wrap in paper towels or a clean cloth towel, put in a plastic bag, and refrigerate. Remove the roots and wash only when you are ready to use it. Rucola tends to be very sandy, so washing it well is very important

Substitutions
Rucola can be substituted with water cress for a similar peppery flavor. You can also use fresh baby spinach, however the flavor will not be the same. Dandelion greens also have a tart flavor but they are a bit more bitter.


Eat Fresh Update

The lovely Marta of An Italian in the US, who lives in California has a fresh load of squash, cabbage, cauliflower, apples and so much more in her weekly fresh produce shopping bag. Check out her gorgeous Eat Fresh bag!

A few of you mentioned they were having trouble sending me their Eat Fresh entries as the mails were bouncing back. Folks ... my mistake! Seemed like I misspelled my own email address. Sorry! Please send your emails to blogmeeta@gmail.com. Your deadline is March 31st.

For details to this event please refer to the Eat Fresh page.

To check out all the lovely entries check out our Eat Fresh Winter list.


Ingredients
Printable version of recipe here.

Rucola Bresaola Risotto (04) by MeetaK

Basic risotto - Risotto Bianco
1 l vegetable stock
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 large onion - finely chopped
2 garlic cloves - finely chopped
400g Risotto rice - the best and my preference here would be the Arboria type
2 wine glasses full of dry white wine - if cooking for kids substitute this with more stock
Salt and fresh cracked pepper
70 g butter
120g parmesan - grated

Additional
125 g Rucola leaves - roughly chopped
100 g Bresaola - roughly chopped
1/2 bunch of Thyme - roughly chopped
1 Bay leaf


Method

Rucola Bresaola Risotto (03) by MeetaK

Bring the stock to a boil. In another pot heat the butter and olive oil together and add the chopped onion and garlic. On a low heat sauté very gently for 15 minutes until the flavors have combined and caramelized. Be careful not to allow them to take on color.
In the Italian kitchen this is called soffritto. Add the rice and raise the temperature.

Keep stirring the rice while in cooks and takes on a glassy color - approx. 1 minute. At this point add the wine (or stock) and allow the rice to take on the wonderful aroma.

Once this has evaporated and the rice begins to get dry, add thyme and bay leaves. Pour a ladle full of the stock. Stir well and add a touch of salt. Reduce the temperature so that the mixture bubbles slightly. Now, keep adding ladle full of stock, allow the rice to soak this up and stirring every now and then. When the rice has soaked the liquid add another ladle full. By "massaging" the rice this way you release the creamy starch from the rice giving the dish a fantastic consistency. This whole process takes approx. 15-20 minutes. The rice grains should be soft but still have a slight crunch to them. Now add a bit of salt and pepper, but be careful as the stock is normally salty enough - so please taste before!

Take the pot off the heat and add the butter, bresaola, rucola and parmesan cheese. Mix well and cover. Allow the rice to take on all the flavors - 2 minutes. This is the moment of truth - as giving the risotto this time allows it to unfold it's perfect creamy-moist consistency.

Vegetarian Tip: leave the bresaola out. Optionally you can add a few dried porchini mushrooms for wonderful aroma.


Verdict

Rucola Bresaola Risotto (03) by MeetaK

A spoonful of this risotto makes me sigh out loud. Pure comfort right down to it's last creamy rice grain. Soeren and Tom cannot get enough of this lovely flavored risotto. By adding the rucola leaves right at the end, the wonderful peppery flavor is preserved, as is the crunch.

If you want more comfort foods, check back here over the weekend when I roundup the 80+ comfort food entries!

More comfort foods on WFLH:
Bulgur with Mushrooms
Gnocchi in Sage Garlic Butter
Risotto with Mushrooms
Risotto with Creamy Red Bell Pepper



All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2008 Meeta Khurana unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

39 comments :

  1. I can almost taste the creaminess. But, sadly, I can never come in terms with arugula. Something puts me off. Baked risotto is a must try.

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  2. Well I just learned two new things today.... what Rucola and Bresaola are. Good to know. Bet there are tasty in your risotto.

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  3. Well if comfort food is not frilly, how come yours seems to look so spectacular? Really lovely Meeta.
    Too funny that you miss-typed your own email. I think I had a time where my typing correct and fast were improving but now my mind seems disconnected from the fingers and one is never in the same place with the other.

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  4. Ah, perfect comfort food in a bowl. Beautifully photographed too! Funny how most people would eat comfort food on the sofa.

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  5. not very fond of rocket salad leaves. we get them w/o roots and i just read ur note of selcting and storing these greens. may be thats the reason why i am not able to actually taste it.

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  6. I recently tasted arugula on a pizza. Totally love the idea of having these peppery leaves in a risotto!

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  7. I am looking for a reicpe to cook with the risotto rice that I have. The creaminess of this dish is simply irresistible but maybe minus the leaves.

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  8. I am looking for a reicpe to cook with the risotto rice that I have. The creaminess of this dish is simply irresistible but maybe minus the leaves.

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  9. This risotto sounds amazing - and definitely comforting!

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  10. Yummmmm. I love arugula.All the elements are great.

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  11. mmmm a must try. have never made risotto, and with your explanations it should work :-)

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  12. sure looks pretty Meeta..haven't tasted rucola before..might have to cehck out my farmer's market this weekend!:)

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  13. I love the photos today - clean and green and crisp!
    and the flavour combination is amazing!

    btw, thanks for visiting my blog!

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  14. Fantastic, Meeta.

    How/where did you find that beautiful green backdrop? It looks like glass.

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  15. I love love LOVE rucola (aka arugula aka rocket). I will definitely try my hand at a rocket risotto. :)

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  16. I have to admit that I have never tried Rucola (arugula). After reading your wonderful entry on this beautiful deep green vegetable, I am so tempted. Your creamy risotto looks mouth-watering and the creaminess of it must be to-die-for! Absolutely beautiful! =D
    Shandy@Pastry Heaven

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  17. Wonderful risotto recipe! And I love the overall greenness of your rucola photograph -- it's quite striking.

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  18. Wonderful risotto! And true, risotto is quite comforting :)

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  19. PS - thanks for mentioning my entry at your other wonderful event. I'm looking forward to the spreadsheet being full of entries!

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  20. How on earth do you get this tones and beautiful compositions? They are simply amazing... I love them.
    I guess risotto was great but gone in your bellies, and pictures remain...

    You are tagged, please check this link http://recipespicbypic.blogspot.com/2008/02/ive-been-tagged.html

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  21. That looks like a really tasty take on risotto--healthy and hearty.

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  22. I don't like risotto Meets, never tried but but but I love that breathtaking picture of yours!!

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  23. I couldn't agree more. Definitely my kind of risotto.

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  24. hey nice risotto :) and nice green color to match :)

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  25. Sug, sorry to hear that you do not find rucula tasty. You should try it on pizza or even this risotto.

    Pea, hehehe! Well now all you need to do is try this one out.

    Nags, Thanks!

    Tanna, I am getting old. Either that or just doing to many things at one time. Glad you liked the risotto.

    Amanda, are you a sofa eater too? Yes, it's the most comfy place to eat comfy food.

    Sia, hope you will give these another go. They are very delicate and lovely.

    Poonam, yes, I love pizza with rucola too. This risotto will make you happy too.

    Indo, you can substitute rucola with spinach if you like. But it will not really taste the same though.

    Deborah, It is. Hope you enjoy it.

    Glamah, thanks!

    Isis, oh you will have to try this one. You'll love it.

    Mansi, hope you do find it. I am sure you will enjoy the risotto.

    Maninas, thanks for the feedback.

    Graeme, thanks. It's wrapping paper I found at a store. There were several different colors and I bought a few of them. I too like the green the best!

    Heather, hope you enjoy it.

    Shandy, go out and buy a bunch then make a salad, pizza or this risotto. You'll love it.

    Lydia, thanks so much.

    Marta, thank you! I hope we get a lot of entries for the EAT FRESH event. It would be a good thing to see what everyone is eating.

    Nuria, thanks for the feedback. I like experimenting with color combinations. This one worked nicely.

    Mike, thank you.

    Padmaja, well you have to try before you say you do not like it ;-) The best way would be to try this recipe out.

    A fork full of spaghetti, RV, thank you!

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  26. When I saw the greens picture, I was confused...I didn't know the name Rucola, but I have seen Arugula being used in many dishes on Food network here. Then I read the other name :D. I have never tried this herb, I think its time now...

    Risotto is a dish I watch frequently on TV. Don't know why I haven't tried it yet. Your version looks too good. I will have to come out of my "Indian food" mood and try these sometime :)

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  27. Looks wonderful and delicious. I shall try it. Thanks for sharing.

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  28. It sounds wonderful -- I love rice no matter how it's made. Thank you so much for compiling the 80+ comfort food entries -- I'm looking forward to the round-up!

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  29. Love Bresaola! The risotto is perfectly comforting!

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  30. I love Argula (or Rucola) in my salads. I just tried orzo last week and next I definitely want to make Risotto. I have heard that making a good Risotto can be quite tricky but your recipe gives me hope :) Thanks for the vegetarian tip.

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  31. Love arugula in salads... and I recently had it on a pizza. This is the first I've heard of Rucola and Bresaola. Glad to learn about them! Looks yummy!

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  32. I already love risotto, Meeta, and you added my favorite green to it! Delicious!

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  33. Meeta,

    I just thoroughly read your About Page and I think it's a fab idea. Einfach ausgezeichnet!! I feel I know you so much better now. I loved your openness. You really love to embrace life to the fullest. That's the impression I got. Do keep updating that page. It's fantastic.

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  34. wow, that looks delicious Meeta, and the pic is absolutely fantastic :) Hope you're doing well.

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  35. Wow - 80+! Good job on a successful call out for comfort food. Can't wait to see the recipes.

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  36. Most definitely a designer dish and not a flip-flop one, but I understand what you are saying. I also tried risotto recently and it fantastic.

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  37. I never learn not to visit your blog with an empty stomach! That's a very good looking risotto.

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  38. Hi Meeta! Thanks for another phenomenal recipe! We are so excited to have it included in this week's FoodieView Recipe Roundup!

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Thank you for visiting What's For Lunch, Honey? and taking time to browse through my recipes, listen to my ramblings and enjoy my photographs. I appreciate all your comments, feedback and input. I will answer your questions to my best knowledge and respond to your comments as soon as possible.

In the meantime I hope you enjoy your stay here and that I was able to make this an experience for your senses.

Hugs
Meeta