Monday, June 7, 2010

What's for Dinner?

A deliciously meat free meal: Spring Pea Risotto
plus Golden Beets with farm fresh Chevre Goat Cheese & Walnuts

For a while now I have been striving to include more meatless meals in our weekly plan. Joey and I have had a few heart to heart conversations lately about the concept of eating meat. When we leave the farm on Sundays (after petting a few goats and gawking at a couple of adorable pigs), inevitably I start thinking about where our food comes from. I am starting to feel more strongly that if I could not kill the animal myself that I am making a meal out of, that I shouldn't be eating it. Even though I know this is someone's job... or possibly multiple people's jobs, I still feel somewhat hypocritical. I know some people agree and some people think that is just crazy talk. People are vegetarian and vegan for many different reasons--each one important to the individual. Many people need to know the animals are treated humanely. Some people just plain need to know where their food came from and that it isn't loaded with antibiotics and hormones and that it wasn't produced in a factory with questionable food handling practices. Some people believe animal proteins are bad for the human body. All are valid points in my mind and reason enough to question the quality of your meat.

I have always been able to push out of my mind that when I am eating meat, I am eating an animal... because if I thought about it all the time, I know I couldn't keep doing it.

I have been eating meat all my life. It is a habit, one of my oldest habits. But I have also been eating processed food my whole life and I know that is bad for me. I have been eating too much sugar and I know that is bad for me. Lately I have been striving to change these bad habits and I have made progress. I am ready to make more changes.

I think my original goal last year was three veggie dinners per week. I thought it would be easier with our weekly supply of fresh garden veggies. Sure we have been eating our veggies, but we have also been eating our animal protein too. I have not been very good about reaching this goal. I am ready to try again.

This week Michael and I volunteered at La Finquita del Buho and we spent the better part of three hours harvesting shelling peas. We then packaged them up for Monday's share families.

Tonight Joey and I made this delicious Spring Pea Risotto (recipe modified from the Chicago Sun-Times). We substituted out a couple of vegetables for ones we had received in our weekly share.

(makes 4-6 dinner sized servings)
4 tablespoons butter, divided
1/4 cup olive oil
2 shallots, minced (we used fresh spring green onions this week)
1 tablespoon green garlic or 1/2 tablespoon regular garlic, minced (we had green garlic left over from last week's share)
1 cup risotto
Kosher salt, to taste
Fresh ground white pepper, to taste
3/4 champagne (we used white wine because we had an open bottle of chardonnay in the fridge)
4 cups hot vegetable stock
1/2 cup fresh spring peas
1 sprig fresh mint (we had some in our own garden)
1/2 cup pureed or blanched fresh peas (see note below)
3 ounces Parmigiano Reggiano (we used a little extra for garnish)
1/2 cup pea tendrils, rough chop (or other tender leafy green, we used spinach from the farm)

In a large heavy bottomed stockpot, melt 2 tablespoons butter and olive oil over medium heat; do not let it turn brown. Add the shallots (or other onions) and garlic and cook until translucent. Joey used his amazing new Pok Pok knife skills and diced the onions and garlic so fine that it only took about a minute to cook. Add the risotto and stir to coat with the oil and butter; season with salt and fresh ground white pepper.

Add the champagne (or wine) and cook, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon until liquid is absorbed. Add the hot stock, a ladle at a time, stirring constantly, letting the liquid absorb before adding the next ladle. (It is important that the stock be kept hot during the entire process.)

When adding the last ladle of stock (the risotto should be cooked, but sill have bite), add the fresh spring peas and mint sprig. Cook until liquid is absorbed, then remove from the heat and add remaining 2 tablespoons butter, pea puree, cheese and pea tendrils (or other tender greens); stir vigorously with a wooden spoon. Discard the mint sprig and serve. Risotto should be creamy about the consistency of a good oatmeal, so that it can be eaten with a spoon.

Note: Make the pea puree ahead of time by blanching about 1/2 cup fresh peas in salted water, then pureeing the peas in a blender with a little of the cooking water. This can be done in advance.

We also received delicious golden beets this week and we had left over hand made Chevre goat cheese from the farm--these items make a great combination.

I boiled the beets, then peeled and sliced them
I topped them with crumbled goat cheese and chopped walnuts.
(We were going to add a little balsamic vinegar, but realized we were all out... next time!)
It's not really a salad, better than a straight vegetable, a little like a dessert.
Well, if you really like beets, like I do, it is!

1 comment:

Lindsay said...

That risotto looks sooooooo good! I'm envious of your confidence in the kitchen.