I picked all this today from my little “potager” garden. This is on the menu tonight with some other produce I grew and picked.
I grew the pole beans shown in back, the onions and garlic, as well as the tomato. I have parsley, thyme, chives and basil.
I’m hungry but not too sure what I want to eat. I need a quick snack before I decide. a quick snack to help me make up my mind.
Seriously, this is the quickest thing I could think of. The tomato is an heirloom varietal called Orange Valencia and it is the first tomato that I have picked and eaten from my garden. The basil is a varietal called Genovese, a northern Italian type. The bread is day old black olive ciabatta from Bricco restaurant in Boston. Add salt, black pepper and good quality extra virgin olive oil and your done.
Chioggia beets are an Italian heirloom varietal from the Veneto region of north east Italy. Chioggia is a fishing village close to Venice. So I guess I’m staying here for dinner.
I boiled these beets in salted water. I love their color. I cut the greens away leaving about an inch of stem attached to the beet. Cut nothing else. Boil them with the whole root intact. Peel them afterwards while they are still hot.
I sliced the beets and dressed them with extra virgin olive oil, my basil and salt. I used no vinegar. I wanted to just taste the flavor of my garden.If you look at the beets closely, you can see the candy stripes, these beets are noted for.
At this point, I realised I was going to do the same with kohl rabe and carrots……treat them all simply and have garden root vegetable sides as a theme.
Technically, kohl rabe is not a root. It is a member of the turnip family, as is brocolli rabe. But who cares, they are good to eat in slaws, soups, stews or any other way you might treat a root.
Two light vegetable side dishes presented. Here are carrots and kohl rabe in olive oil with parsley and chives. Sprinkle on some cracked black pepper and you are done. The best thing is prep is minimal, short cooking times relatively and clean up is a breeze.
All that is left are the onions, garlic, herbs and pole beans. Seeing as I’m in the mood for the Veneto region, one of the traditional dishes of the region is Risotto. I’m going to make a risotto with my onions, garlic, herbs and pole beans.
For me, the best thing about risotto is lunch next day.
In the United States, there are, to my knowledge, three different types of rice available specifically for the making of the northern Italian classic dish, Risotto. The three rices that I know of are Arborio, Carnarioli and Vialone Nano. I use Carnarioli and I usually adhere to tradition by using butter to make it. I always use water, never stock, to make risotto. Stocks muddy the taste of the ingredients in the risotto. Risotto is simple. So simple that people feel they can improve it. Traditionally, risotto is peasant food. It’s rice, don’t forget. And it is best served simply with one or two seasonal ingredients.
Think asparagus or pea risotto in the Spring. Think of risotto made in the Summer with peppers or tomato and basil. Squash risotto in the Fall and roasted root vegetable risotto in Winter. And thats just for starters…….there are thousands of different risottos to make. But keep it simple, clean, and direct. And don’t overcook the rice, it becomes indigestible.