Spinach creamy soup with ricotta cheese

This soup was our son’s favorite when he was a toddler. Since then, it has become a tradition family and we still call it as he dubbed it, Pappa di Spinaci.

The spinach strong flavor is tempered by the potato and the rice, and enriched by the ricotta. Perfect for children, it’s so nutritionally complete that it’s a meal just by itself.


Ingredients:

(serves 4) A  V  Gf  B

  • 1 lb. of organic spinach
  • 1 medium yellow potato
  • 4 oz. of white rice
  • 4 Tbsps. of fresh ricotta cheese
  • 1 organic broth cube
  • 4 cups of water
  • 2 Tbsps. of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbsps. of EVOO

Wash the spinach thoroughly, discarding the part closer to the stem. Change the water multiple times to remove all the soil attached to the leaves.

Peel and cube the potato, and cook them in water in a soup pot for 20 minutes, together with the spinach and the broth cube. Remove from the stove. If it looks too watery, remove a couple of ladles of liquid and set aside. Blend with an immersion blender taking into account that the rice will absorb some of the liquid. Bring it back to a boil, add the rice and cook according to the time recommended on the rice package, stirring often. If necessary, add some of the reserved liquid so that the soup doesn’t become too thick.

Divide into the serving cups, add a dollop of ricotta cheese to the middle of each cup, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

 

 

Riso e zucca – Creamy risotto with squash

Here it is again: winter. It sneaked on me yesterday and I realized it only today by looking at my calendar. Just the awareness that the colder season has officially come back made me crave for Riso e Zucca. It’s neither a risotto nor a soup – more something in between – but delicious, heartwarming, and the perfect dish for a chilly day.

Tip 1: you will only need half Kabocha squash. Cut the other half into cubes and freeze them.

Tip 2: If you need some extra warmth, grate some fresh ginger on top of each dish

Ingredients:

(serves 4) F W B Gf  Df (if you omit the Parmesan)

  • ½ Kabocha or 1 acorn squash
    10 oz. of rice (Arborio or Carnaroli)
    1 Tbsp. of butter
    3 Tbsp. of olive oil
    1 tsp. of organic beef base
    ½ yellow onion, chopped
    3 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese
    1 pot of boiling water

Cut the squash into quarters – be careful, it’s quite hard – remove the seeds, and peel the green skin it with a potato peeler. Cut it into ½ inch cubes.
Peel the onion and chop it finely.
Grate the Parmesan cheese and set aside. Sauté the onion with the oil, on medium heat, until slightly golden. Raise the heat; add the squash cubes, the beef base and a couple of ladles of hot water.
Stir, lower the heat to medium, cover and cook for 15 minutes.
Blend until creamy with an immersion blender, bring back to a boil and add the rice, stirring often and adding hot water to prevent it from thickening.
It usually takes between 12 and 15 minutes for the rice to cook. Taste it after 10 minutes and, when if feels almost done, adjust for salt if needed, add half a ladle of water, turn off the heat and let it sit – covered – for a couple of minutes. Serve in bowls, sprinkling with the Parmesan cheese, the minced parsley and a few drops of olive oil.

 

 

 

Smoked Salmon and Fennel Risotto

The other night I was craving for something new and original and, after browsing recipes for half an hour without finding anything inspiring, I opened my refrigerator hoping to find an idea. Looking at the fennel bulbs that I was planning to cook au gratin (see my recipe), I started to wonder how they would taste in a risotto instead. Probably bland, I concluded. But what if I added to them a stronger flavor? Smoked salmon suddenly seemed the perfect pairing and, since my husband is a very tolerant guinea pig, I decided to try the experiment.
Perhaps because I adore salmon in any possible way, I ended up loving this risotto: it’s healthy, it’s low-calorie, it’s light, it has an appealing look, and it makes a meal in less than half an hour!

IMG_4788

Ingredients:

(for 4 people)  F  W  B  Gf 

  • 1 bulb of fennel
  • 4 oz. of smoked salmon
  • 10 oz. of rice (Arborio or Carnaroli)
  • 1 quart of boiling water
  • 2 Tbsp. of butter
  • 3 Tbsp. of EVOO
  • 1 organic bouillon cube
  • ½ yellow onion, chopped

Trim the fennel stalks and wash the bulb. Cut it in four lengthwise, then cut each half in two, Slice it thinly, starting from where you removed the stalks and discarding the hard root end. Continue reading

Rice Salad

Almost a staple in the Italian summers when it’s too hot to eat anything warm, this rice salad is guaranteed to bring back the appetite with its fresh mix of mouthwatering ingredients.
For me, making it means that the good season has finally arrived.
The original recipe calls for frankfurters, boiled eggs and Swiss cheese, but I prefer this lighter version with more vegetables.
Replace the tuna with smoked tofu and it becomes a vegetarian dish.
Just be sure to prepare plenty of it because it makes a very enjoyable  leftover.

Ingredients:

(serves 6)    Sp  Sr  Gf 

  • 2 cups of Arborio rice (or any rice that doesn’t stick after being cooked)
  • 1 jar of mixed pickled vegetables (like giardiniera)
  • 1 ball of fresh mozzarella
  • 1 can of oil-packed tuna (2 oz. of drained tuna)
  • ½ cup of boiled green peas
  • ½ cup of pitted green olives
  • ½ red bell pepper, cubed
  • ½ yellow bell pepper, cubed
  • ½ cup cherry tomatoes
  • 4 canned artichoke hearts
  • ½ lemon
  • 4 Tbsp. of Evoo or 4 Tbsp. homemade mayonnaise (see recipe)
  • Salt

Cook the rice al dente in slightly salted water. Let cool down and set aside.
Cube 1 cup of pickled vegetables (carrots, celery, cauliflower, bell peppers) and rinse them under cold running water, other wise the taste will bee too acidic.
Boil the green peas for 20 minutes in slightly salted water, drain and add to the other ingredients.
Cut the olives in two.
Wash and dry the bell peppers and cut half of each into ¼-inch cubes.
Wash and dry the tomatoes, slice them in half and remove the seeds.
Squeeze the canning water out of the artichoke hearts and quarter them.
Drain the canned tuna and mince it.
Put all the ingredients together in a big bowl, dress with the Evoo or the mayonnaise, add the juice of half a lemon, toss well and serve at room temperature.

Rice and Green Peas – Risi e Bisi

I couldn’t think of a more perfect dish to cook today, on my son’s Marco name day.

Risi e bisi (pronounced Rees-e a Bee-zee) is an ancient Venetian recipe, made for the Doge on St. Mark’s day (April 25th) since the XVI century.
From The Most Serene Republic it spread along both coasts of the Adriatic Sea and down to Greece, Turkey and even Lebanon.
It’s neither a soup nor a risotto but something in between.
The delicate flavor of this dish makes it ideal for spring, when green peas are sweet and tender.
If you need to change the dosages, remember that to keep the proportions right you need 2/3 of green peas and 1/3 of rice. Continue reading

Lemon Rice

Quoting Antoine De Saint-Exupery “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
Cooking doesn’t get any easier than the following recipe, simple but surprisingly rich and tasty.

Ingredients:

(serves 4 people)  A  V  B  Gf

  • 1 ½  cup of Arborio rice
  • 2 oz. of Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon rind, grated
  • 1 tsp. salt

Bring 2 quarts of water to a full boil in a tall pot, add the salt and the rice, stir and cook al dente, 10 to 12 minutes.
Cut the butter into small pieces on the bottom of a serving bowl.
Wash and dry the lemon.
Drain the rice, transfer to the serving bowl, grate the lemon rind on the rice, add the grated parmesan cheese, toss well and serve warm.