Recently I did a quick list on Facebook, of my fifteen favorite cookbooks. This was a slightly esoteric list, as it quickly became clear from the comments that most people don't even own fifteen cookbooks, much less fifteen favorites.
One that made my list was Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites: Flavorful Recipes for Healthful Meals. Now I am aware that fat isn't Public Enemy Number One like it used to be, way back in 1996 when this was published. What I've tended to do with these recipes is treat them as a jumping-off point, and if I feel a judicious dollop of sour cream or shredding of parmesan across the top would add to the experience, I don't hesitate to throw it on there.
Having said all that, I made this risotto recipe tonight, and with the barest sluicing of olive oil in the pan to soften onions, you have yourself a full meal that incorporates all the best tastes of summer. Any of you with the mad gardening skillz out there could definitely do this from your own little raised bed. I, on the other hand, was grateful for farmer's market bounty. And a few leaves of basil from my failed garden.
So here ya go folks: make this for dinner tonight. It is good for the dieters, the food-allergy sufferers, the picky kids who only like tomato-flavored things, and for the folks trying to imagine what to do with zucchini (STILL) and with a few ears of leftover corn. And most importantly, it is good for the folks who just want something delicious for supper that they won't still be digesting on Labor Day.
2 C tomato juice
3 C water or vegetable stock [I just use chicken stock, but I'm not a nutty vegan type. Yet.]
1 vegetable bouillon cube
3 C fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 C minced onion
2 tsp olive oil
1.5 C arborio rice
2 C diced zucchini
1 tsp salt
1 C chopped tomatoes
2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
ground black pepper to taste
Combine the tomato juice, water/stock/ and bouillon cube in a pot and bring to a simmer. Transsfer 1 C of the broth to a blender, add 1.5 C of the corn, and puree until smooth. Stir the pureed corn into the simmering broth. Set aside the remaining corn kernels.
In a separate, heavy saucepan [I suspect they're angling for Le Creuset here], combine the onions and the oil and saute for abt 5 minutes, until softened. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the rice, stirring with a wooden spoon to avoid breaking the grains, until the rice is coated with oil.
Ladle about a cup of the broth into the rice and stir constantly for several minutes, until the liquid has been absorbed. Add the zucchini and another cup of broth. COntinue to stir frequently, adding a cup of broth every few minutes for the next 15 minutes, until all of the broth has been added and the rice is tender but firm. Add the reserved corn, the salt, tomatoes, basil, and pepper to taste. Cook for another minute or so and serve immediately.
They suggest serving as a first course with Garlic Dill Fish, or as a main course with Broiled Portabella Mushrooms as a side. (Clearly the book was written before vegetarians got so very very tired of being served Grilled Portabella Mushrooms at every blessed meal out.) In Googling this recipe, I noted that many people served something like it with chicken. I think that would be nice. But honestly? It was me and the kids at the dinner table, and I just served up big bowls of it & grated parmesan over the top for a little protein. Plenty of veggies, a nice rice, and a bit of cheese? It's all you need in the last gasps of summer.