If you're reading this I can be found poolside at a lovely resort sipping a refreshing beverage and reading Julia Child's letters on my Kindle. Since Andrew and I are away this week celebrating our 5 year anniversary, I leave you with an easy way to use the carrots that I know are sitting in the back of your crisper.
Sometimes I'm not sure where the time has gone. When I was growing up, adults would tell me the years only go faster the older you get. It's hard to believe them when you're 14 and every day until your high school graduation feels terribly long. But now I understand. It started after graduating from college. Suddenly time seemed to start spiraling a bit more, and now my twenties are almost over.
But it's been an amazing five years. Andrew and I were lucky. We met the second day of college and have been best friends ever since. Because we dated for so many years before getting married, our wedding day was overwhelmingly surreal in all the best ways. Part of me couldn't believe it that after all this time I was about to turn the corner and walk down the grassy aisle to start a new, yet familiar life with the best possible person to spend it with.
Now to the carrots. I haven't always given carrots their turn in the spotlight. What usually happens is I let them shrivel in the refrigerator. Not on purpose, of course, but I've attempted to redeem myself with one of my favorite meals, risotto. I also decided to stray a bit from my usual method of adding puree to the stock, opting to swirl it into the rice at the last minute, along with a generous pile of Parmesan cheese.
I was inspired by the carrot risotto in Everyday Food's April issue, but since they used carrot juice that I didn't have, I decided to add a few special touches like kale and toasted walnuts and use fresh carrots that I steamed and pureed just before cooking, although it's a great step to do a day or two ahead.
CARROT RISOTTO WITH CRISPY KALE
I love adding purees to stock to infuse the risotto with extra flavor. This time, I saved the puree until the last minute, vigorously stirring it in with the butter and Parmesan cheese. It turns the risotto a pale shade of orange and the kale adds a soft crunch and extra nutrients to the plate.
1 bunch kale, ribs removed and roughly chopped
2 cups roughly chopped carrots
6 to 8 cups chicken stock
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
½ onion, minced
2 cups Arborio rice
½ cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread kale on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast until crisp, about 20-25 minutes, but check often during the cooking time.
Place carrots in a double boiler and steam until tender, about 15 minutes. Puree in a food processor until silky, adding water, as needed, no more than ½ a cup, to thin. Season with salt and set aside.
While the carrots cook, simmer the stock so it’s warm when added to the rice.
In a large saute pan, add 1 tablespoon each butter and oil. When the butter is almost melted, add the onions and stir to coat. Season with salt and cook for 3-5 minutes, until translucent. Add rice and toast for 2 minutes. Add stock a ladle at a time, stirring frequently until most of the liquid is absorbed. Continue until rice is cooked through and tender but still has a bite to it. (You may have stock left over, so be diligent about testing it for doneness so you don’t overcook the rice).
After adding the last ladle of stock, pour in the cheese and carrot puree. Stir to combine and season with salt, as necessary. To make the risotto extra creamy, toss in the last 2 tablespoons of butter off heat and stir vigorously until it’s nearly melted. Cover the pot and let sit for two minutes. Then, the risotto will be perfect. Serve immediately with crumbled kale and extra Parmesan cheese.