Black Risotto and It’s New Buddy: Blue Corn Crepes

We’ve had amazing weather over the last week. The cherry blossoms are out and the magnolias are also making their presence on the stage this month. I think the spring is an absolutely fabulous time of the year. More and more produce is readily available from local farmers or at least a lot closer than from Chile and Argentina. The price of said produce is also decreasing which makes me happy.

Today, however, the nice days came to an end. It’s raining sideways and it’s miserable out. Our dog Shasta could care less, she just wants me to take her out for her walk. I diligently obliged to my daily hour walk commitment, and off we went. I’m not bothered by the poopy weather for one reason only – comfort food. It’s the perfect excuse to bake some yummy treats and cook up some comforting, cozy up by the fire kind of food.

At a recent restaurant opening, I had the chance to try some black rice risotto. It was delicious but I suspected it may have been due to the addition of a brown butter holandaise and rare tuna. It was interesting enough that I decided to give it a try at home. As it turns out it’s just as amazing on its own! I couldn’t find just black rice but Lundberg has a great selection of gourmet rice blends. I chose the Black Japonica blend which has black rice as well as mahogany rice. It worked really well. I had never tried this blend before but we really loved the nutty flavor. The risotto tastes so rich and complex that we actually found ourselves wondering if the other person had added something during the cooking process when one of us wasn’t looking. It really couldn’t taste that good with so few ingredients, could it?

I would be misleading you if I didn’t mention that this is a long process. This rice takes a full hour to make and even longer to make it into a risotto style dish. Because I’m not overly patient and risotto is a dish for the patient, we cheated. It did not change the consistency we were looking for, so I thought you all might appreciate the tip. After the first few additions of stock, we added the final 2 or 3 cups and covered the pot with a lid and let it finish it’s last 10 to 20 minutes. This alleviated some of the constant stirring and the addition of one cup of broth at a time nonsense.

I’m sure you’ve noticed, but I love coming up with recipes that can be used in several ways.  Leftovers don’t need to be boring. I like finding vegetarian recipes that feel complete on their own and don’t leave us feeling like we were “missing the meat”. I truly think that the majority of us eat way too much meat and if we could find a balance we would all be so much healthier and probably all a little lighter. It’s just that most of us don’t know how to make vegetarian taste like it’s not missing the meat. So maybe these 2 lovely vegetarian meals can find a way into your homes from time to time.

Black Rice Risotto

  • 1 1/2 cups Black Japonica Rice Blend
    5-6 cups of vegetable or chicken stock (We never measured, sorry. Add broth until al dente)
    1 Tbsp oil
    1 medium onion, diced
    2 garlic cloves, minced
    1/4 cup chopped sundried tomatoes
    1/8 cup crumbled feta (optional)

In a heavy bottomed pot or Dutch Oven, add the oil, onions and garlic. Cook for 3 minutes or until onions become tender. Add the rice and stir until all the grains become shiny and are well coated. Add one cup of stock and the sundried tomatoes.  Stir the rice until the liquid is absorbed before adding another cup. Continue this process, adding one cup at a time until it reaches the desired tenderness. Slightly al dente is best. Fold in the crumbled feta and serve with steamed asparagus or rainbow chard. Top with a Tomato Caper Sauce.

Grape Tomato and Caper Sauce

  • 2 cups grape tomatoes or any other kind chopped
    1 garlic clove minced
    1 Tbsp capers
    1 Tbsp olive oil
    Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 F. In a baking dish add 1 Tbsp oil, 2 cups of grape tomatoes (pricked with a fork), capers, garlic and salt and pepper and stir until everything is coated with oil. Bake for 30 minutes or until the tomatoes begin to burst. Smash the tomatoes with a fork. Finish with salt and pepper to taste and serve with crepes or risotto.

Of course any tomato will do. These are what we happened to have on had. Cherry tomatoes would work well or any large tomato chopped into large chunks. If using grape or cherry tomatoes, remember to prick them with a fork so they can release their steam.

Steamed Asparagus

1 lb of asparagus

Wash the asparagus. Snap off the ends of the “root” of the asparagus, bending it until the tough ends break off. In a large sauce pan or skillet add 1/2 inch of water and bring to a boil. Make a single layer and cook until tender, 2-5 minutes depending on size. Cook the asparagus in small batches to prevent the water to stop boiling when the vegetables are added. This will help keep the asparagus a bright green color.

Blue Corn Meal Crepes

  • 1 1/2 cups Blue Cornmeal
    1/4 tsp salt
    1/4 tsp paprika
    2 tsp of fresh chopped thyme
    1 cup milk
    3 eggs

Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs and milk together. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and whisk until no lumps remain. Using a crepe pan (or a regular pan) add a little oil and pour in a small amount (1/8 – 1/4 cup of batter) to the hot pan. Rotating the pan from side to side using a circular motion will allow the batter to spread evenly and thinly. Cook for 1-2 minutes and flip. Cook for 1 more minute. Keep the crepes warm in the oven while the others are being made. I made 10 inch crepes and it made 5. One was not enough to fill me up, but 2 would be too much. If I were to make them again I would use a smaller pan and make 2 six inch crepes.

Stuff the crepes with some asparagus, risotto and a little feta. Roll and top with Tomato Caper Sauce.

O found blue corn meal at our local organic store

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One Response to Black Risotto and It’s New Buddy: Blue Corn Crepes

  1. Koko April 11, 2011 at 8:18 am #

    What a beautiful presentation! This dish looks so good. I have never had black rice before.

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