Cooking is a great thing to do as a couple.
You get to engage all your senses: take in the brilliant colors of fresh vegetables, listen to the sounds of chopping and sizzling, smell the aromas of herbs and spices, and of course you get to taste the delicious product at the end. Cooking let’s you practice being in the moment together.
Making good food is a lot like a relationship as well, you need the flavors to balance and compliment each other for the best result. If one flavor is too dominant, the dish just won’t be as good. It takes teamwork to cook as a couple too, negotiating who will chop the veggies and who will get the water boiling, and who will clean up after it’s all done.
Cooking a romantic dinner for two is an awesome (and economical) date idea. And who know’s romance better than the Italians? So, for a perfect date night recipe, why not try this beautiful risotto? It’s beautiful, creamy, bursting with flavor, and vegetarian to boot!
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 2 cup risotto rice
- 1 bottle of a dry white wine (2 cups for cooking and the rest for the two of you to split)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tbsp of butter
- 1 onion, diced finely
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup frozen or fresh peas
- 1 cup baby spinach
- 1 handful dried porcini mushrooms
- 3 handfuls of chopped mushrooms, try a mix of oyster, shiitake or portobello for a nice variety of flavors and textures
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 tsp dried tarragon
- salt and pepper to taste
Making good risotto is easy, if you give it some patience and attention. Which makes it kind of like a relationship, right? Just give it some love, be in the moment, and you’ll get something awesome in return.
Let’s get down to business:
Start by heating the broth in a deep dish pan. Throw in the dried porcini mushrooms, but only for about two minutes. At this point they should be soft but not soggy and will have imparted some of their flavor to the broth.
Meanwhile, in a separate pan, heat the butter and fry the garlic and onion on low heat. Let them sizzle at a low temperature for about 15 minutes. By then the onion should be soft and translucent and the garlic fragrant.
Now you can add the rice to the butter and onion. Turn the heat up to high and let it sizzle. Keep stirring it constantly so that the rice doesn’t burn. Add the wine one cup at a time and wait for the liquid to be absorbed fully before adding more. At this point you can begin ladling the boiling broth into the rice. Be patient and let each ladle full absorb before adding the next.
Get another pan out on the stove. I know, this is a lot of pans, but that’s why this is a great recipe for a tag-teaming couple! In this pan, add the chopped mushrooms (whatever type you chose), and get them sizzling. There’s no oil in this pan because you don’t want the mushrooms to get soggy, you just want to heat them through and bring out their nutty and meaty flavors. Add the peas to the pan and let them heat through. This should take only about 3-4 minutes. Then, remove the veggies from the heat and set them in a separate dish to cool. Drizzle them with the lemon juice and sprinkle with salt, pepper and the dried tarragon.
As the rice absorbs the last of the liquid, immediately add the Parmesan cheese. Stir it in gently, a little at a time. This helps the risotto get its beautiful smooth texture that’s just ever so slightly cheesy. Here you can stir in the baby spinach as well. It will wilt just enough from the heat of the rice and cheese. Take it off the heat, and let the risotto sit for at least three minutes.
Now we’re ready to serve! Put a dollop of the risotto on each plate, top with the mushrooms, and serve it all up with a glass of wine and maybe some candles.
Have a magical date night!
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Apprentice Editor: Kathryn Muyskens / Editor: Travis May
Photo: Wikimedia Commons