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[Where is the Vegetable?] Risotto

The spring is nearly here, but the chill in the air lends itself to a warm, comforting meal filled with some seasonally fresh [hidden] veggies.




As a mom of young children, I'm always looking for tasty ways to include vegetables in their diets. Even my kids, who are peppered with healthy food messages from a health-coach-mom, still sometimes turn up their noses at too many veggies. Therefore, I need to get creative sometimes.


When they were little I found several kiddo recipes from a baby cookbooks that have stood the test of time. Risotto is one of them. I can hide almost anything when I use risotto as the base of my dish, including some fantastic veggie combinations, like zucchini and sweet corn (though corn is really a grain, I include it here), broccoli and butternut squash, mushroom (a fungi, but still delicious!), roasted cauliflower and carrot. You name it! As you might have guessed, many of these veggies, like the zucchini, mushrooms, cauliflower, and even broccoli (see note below) virtually "disappear" into the rice base, making it hard for little fingers to pick out anything green.

Mom - 1, Kids - 0.


The simplicity of this dish not only fits into our lives, it's actually easy and fun to make. My kids love to help in the kitchen, and nothing makes a delicious and creamy risotto like an ever-watchful 9-year-old eye with the job of stirring.


A few notes:

* When I use broccoli, I use my box grater to shred the entire head of broccoli after it's washed. This add interesting color and texture to the dish, and the broccoli cooks almost instantly when it's added toward the end.

* I've also used leftover roasted veggies to make risotto, and it's a great way to re-imagine last night's meal. Since they're already cooked, just toss them in with the last ladle to heat them up.

*I typically make my mushroom risotto with one part white wine; however, when I'm making this dish for the kids and our nanny (who doesn't consume alcohol), I just omit the wine and use stock in its place. Cut the mushrooms in small pieces to hide them a little better.


Here's one of my favorites:


Zucchini & Sweet Potato Risotto

Ingredients:

1T olive oil

1T butter or ghee

1/2 cup diced onion

1 cup Arborio Rice

2-3 sweet potatoes, small diced

3 1/2 cups high-quality low sodium chicken broth

1/2 cup white wine (use a wine you'd actually drink or, to omit, up chicken stock to 4 cups)

1 large zucchini squash, grated

1/2 cup fresh parmesan cheese or grated romano cheese

salt and pepper, to taste


Directions:

1. Head a large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and butter/ghee. Saute onion for 3-5min until transluscent.

2. Add arborio rice to onion and stir to coat. Toast 1-2 min until fragrant.

3. Add sweet potato and stir to coat. Let cook 1-2 min.

4. If using wine, stir in slowly. If not using wine, add 1/2 cup of broth. Cook until absorbed. One ladle at a time, add in broth and cook until absorbed. Repeat until all but one ladle is left.

5. Add in zucchini and final ladle of broth. Stir and cook until broth is absorbed and zucchini is still bright green at ends. Salt and pepper to taste (note: parmesan cheese lends a salty flavor, so add salt sparingly until after cheese is added.)

6. Turn off heat and sprinkle in parmesan. Stir to combine. Flavor to taste. Serve and enjoy!

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