Lemon Mint Risotto

Lemon Mint Risotto TasteFood

~ Lemon Mint Risotto ~

Here is what I think about risotto: A good risotto should be creamy, but not soupy. The rice should be tender, but not mushy. Its accompanying ingredients should be minimal without overwhelming and reflect the season. This recipe  for Lemon Risotto with Mint is firmly planted in spring. Redolent with lemon and mint, the puckery citrus cuts the inherent creaminess of the risotto, while flecks of fresh mint add freshness and aroma. I like to serve small plates of this as an elegant first course to a nice meal.

Lemon Risotto with Mint
Serves 6

6 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion
2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano cheese, plus extra for garnish
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest, plus extra for garnish
4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint leaves, divided

Bring stock to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to lowest setting and keep warm.
Heat 1 tablespoon butter and oil in a deep skillet or pot over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until softened without coloring, 2 minutes. Add rice and stir to coat. Add wine. Cook, stirring, until the wine evaporates. Add stock 1 cup at a time, stirring until nearly all of the liquid is absorbed before adding the next cup. Continue until the rice is tender but not mushy. Remove pan from the heat. Stir in 1 tablespoon butter, 1/2 cup cheese, lemon juice and lemon zest. Add 2 tablespoons mint leaves. Serve immediately in bowls garnished with extra cheese, zest and mint.

You might also enjoy these recipes from TasteFood:
Fregola Sarda with Asparagus and Lemon
Greek Couscous Salad
Farro Pilaf

White Peach, Almond and Arugula Salad with a side of Salume

~ White Peaches, Almonds, Arugula, Mint, Thyme, Parmigiano ~

Summer food is simple food. Fresh salads are frequent centerpieces on our dinner table. Little else is needed except an assortment of cheese, salumi and a chilled glass of wine to round out the meal when no-cooking is advised. This salad is inspired by the sweetly perfumed white peaches and feisty mint that vied for my attention this morning at the local farmer’s market. It was perfectly offset by a selection of salame I recently recieved from  Columbus Salame with a selection of artisan and classic salame – perfectly timed for al fresco summer dining.  Continue reading White Peach, Almond and Arugula Salad

Blackberry Spritzers and a Mojito

Blackberry Spritzers and a Mojito



~ Blackberry, Lime and Mint Spritzers~

It’s summertime and the living is easy. And what better way to enjoy the sultry season than with a refreshing, thirst-quenching drink? During this window of time when blackberries are prolific, I like to make a syrup which I add to drinks and use for desserts.  Depending on the mood or time of day, I’ll stir a few spoonfuls of the vibrant, tangy syrup into icy glasses of Prosecco or sparkling water. If we’re feeling extra festive, I’ll muddle a jigger-full with mint, lime and rum and call it a mojito. It’s all good. Just be sure to make extra to freeze as ice cubes to pop in drinks or thaw later in the year for a sip of summer.

Blackberry Syrup
Makes about 1 cup

12 ounces blackberries
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar

Combine all of the ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until blackberries soften and release their juices, about 10 minutes. Cool. Purée in a food processor, then strain through a fine-meshed sieve. Discard the seeds.

Blackberry Spritzers
Makes 1 

Ice cubes
1 part blackberry syrup
2 parts sparkling water, white wine or Proscecco
Lime wedge and mint leaves for garnish

Fill a wine or cocktail glass with ice. Add syrup and sparkling water. Stir. Garnish with lime and mint.

Blackberry Mojito
Makes 1 

1/2 lime, cut in 4 wedges
2 sprigs mint, plus extra leaves for garnish
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) blackberry syrup
Crushed ice
1.5 ounces white rum
Sparkling water
1-2 blackberries for garnish

Muddle 2 lime wedges, mint sprigs and syrup together in a sturdy highball glass. Fill the glass with crushed ice. Pour rum over ice. Top with sparkling water to taste. Garnish with whole blackberries, remaining lime wedges and mint.

Lemon Risotto with Mint

Lemon Risotto with Mint

I have an opinion about risotto. A good risotto should be creamy, but not soupy. The rice should be tender, but not mushy.  The ingredients should be minimal without overwhelming. My ideal risotto reflects the season, and elegantly plays a role in a meal as a first course or side to a main. Lemon Risotto with Mint accomplishes all of this. It’s planted firmly in spring, redolent with lemon and fresh mint. It’s not too heavy, but creamy and rich enough to keep you coming back for more.

Lemon Risotto with Mint
Serves 6

6 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion or 2 spring onions, white and pale green parts only, finely chopped
2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus extra for garnish
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest, plus extra for garnish
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves, plus extra for garnish

Bring stock to a simmer. Reduce heat to lowest setting and keep warm.
Heat 1 tablespoon butter and oil in a deep skillet or pot over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until softened, 2 minutes. Add rice and stir to coat. Add wine. Cook, stirring, until the wine evaporates. Add stock 1 cup at a time, stirring until nearly all of the liquid is absorbed before adding the next cup. Continue until the rice is tender but not mushy. Remove pan from the heat. Stir in 1 tablespoon butter, 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, lemon juice and lemon zest. Add mint leaves and serve immediately in bowls garnished with extra cheese, lemon zest and mint.

Roasted Red Potatoes with Garlic, Lemon and Mint

Roasted Red Potatoes

Do not underestimate the power of the side dish. Roasted potatoes are meat’s best friend and a dependable side kick in any season. I serve these potatoes frequently when it’s summer and fresh mint is abundant. The grill is always going, these potatoes are a perfect accompaniment to grilled meat, chicken and fish. The fresh mint and lemon elevate the mild red potato and perfume it with flavor. Be sure to toss the potatoes with the garlic, lemon and mint when they are warm from the oven, so the heat will coax out the aroma of the garnishes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Roasted Potatoes with Mint, Lemon and Garlic
Serves 6-8 as a side dish

2 pounds (1 kg.) baby red potatoes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 F. (190 C). Toss potatoes with 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper. Arrange in one layer in a baking pan. Roast in oven one hour. Transfer potatoes to serving bowl. Toss with 1 teaspoon olive oil, garlic, lemon zest and mint. Serve immediately or cool slightly.

Grilled Lamb Loin Chops with Lemon Mint Salsa Verde and Flageolets

Lamb Chops

You say spring and I say lemons. I also say lamb – and mint. Put all of that together, and you might end up with this lamb dish. It’s a bright and assertive variation on a classic combination of ingredients, with the added kick from the salsa. I like to serve this dish with flageolets, another traditional complement to lamb. The flageolets offer a homey, mellow palate that gently offsets the lamb and the piquant salsa verde.


Grilled Lamb Loin Chops with Lemon Mint Salsa Verde and Flageolets

This recipe is quick and easy to prepare – perfect for a weeknight dinner. Serves 4.

8 lamb loin chops
4-5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley leaves
3 spring onions, green parts only, finely sliced
3 anchovy filets, rinsed and minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon salted capers, rinsed, chopped
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Flageolet beans – optional (recipe below)

Arrange lamb in one layer in a deep dish or pan. Coat with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle on all sides with salt and pepper. Let rest at room temperature while you prepare the Salsa Verde.
Combine mint, parsley, green onions, anchovies, garlic, capers, lemon zest and crushed red pepper in a bowl. Gently toss to blend well.
Mix 2 tablespoons olive oil, lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon pepper together in a small bowl. Pour over the salsa. Toss to combine.
Heat a cast-iron grill pan or a skillet with 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add lamb in one layer. Brown on both sides, turning once, about 6 minutes for medium rare. Remove from pan.
If serving with flageolet beans, spoon beans into center of plate. Arrange lamb over beans. Top with Lemon Mint Salsa Verde.

For the flageolets:
2 cups flageolet beans, picked over and rinsed
1 head of garlic, halved horizontally
1 onion, peeled, quartered
1 carrot, peeled, cut in large chunks
3 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped Italian flat leaf parsley

Place the beans in a large pot. Add enough cold water to cover the beans by 2 inches. Bring to a boil; boil one minute. Turn off heat. Cover and let beans sit at room temperature for one hour. Drain and rinse.
Place drained beans, garlic, onion, carrot, thyme and bay leaf in a large pot. Add enough cold water to cover by 3 inches. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until beans are tender, 1-2 hours, depending on age of beans. Remove from heat. Stir in one teaspoon salt. Let beans cool in liquid. (Beans can be prepared one day in advance. Refrigerate in cooking liquid.)

To serve, drain beans, reserving liquid. Heat one tablespoon olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add beans and cook, stirring to coat until beans are heated through. Season with salt and pepper. Add 1/2 cup reserved liquid and heat over medium-low heat. Before serving, stir in chopped parsley.

Leg of Lamb with Feta, Mint, and Blood Orange Sauce

Lamb Mint Feta

Lamb, mint and feta are a match made, if not in heaven, then at least in Greece. One of my favorite preparations of lamb is to simply butterfly a leg, smear it with olive oil, garlic and salt and roast it in the oven or on the grill. In this case, I have taken the simplicity of this recipe one sweeping step further to integrate feta, mint and blood orange. A mixture of feta, mint, garlic and blood orange zest is spread on the inside of the leg, which is then rolled up and seared before roasting in the oven. While the lamb finishes in the oven, a sweet-tart reduction is made with blood orange juice, red wine and balsamic vinegar. The final flourish is a garnish of fresh mint and blood orange zest, brightening the entire dish. The angels are singing.

Mint and Feta Stuffed Leg of Lamb with Balsamic Blood Orange Sauce and Pistachio Gremolata
Serves 6

2 1/2 pounds boneless half leg of lamb, butterflied, excess fat removed
3 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 garlic cloves, divided
XX ounces crumbled feta cheese, about 1 1/2 cups
1/4 cup mint leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon finely grated blood orange zest
1/2 cup red wine
1 cup freshly squeezed blood orange juice
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 thyme sprig
2 teaspoons light brown sugar
1 thyme sprig

Pistachio-Mint Gremolata:
1/2 cup (packed) mint leaves
1/2 cup (packed) Italian parsley leaves
1/3 cup shelled pistachios
1 small garlic clove
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon finely grated blood orange zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Arrange lamb, fat-side down, on a work surface. Place a sheet of plastic wrap or parchment over lamb. Pound with a mallet or heavy skillet to the flatten lamb in the thickest parts. The goal is to have as uniform a thickness as possible. Remove the parchment and make shallow incisions with a small knife in the fat. Cut 2 garlic cloves in slivers and insert a sliver in each incision.

Whisk 2 tablespoons oil, the cumin, coriander, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper in a small bowl. Rub the oil mixture all over the lamb. (The lamb may be prepared to this point up to 12 hours in advance. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before proceeding.)

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Combine the feta, mint, thyme, orange zest, 1 minced clove garlic, and the 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper in a medium bowl.

Place the lamb on a work surface, fat-side down. Spread the feta over the lamb, leaving a 1 to 1 1/2-inch border clear on all sides. Starting with a long side, roll the meat up to enclose the filling, tucking in the ends if possible. Tie with kitchen string in 1 1/2 to 2-inch intervals.

Heat one tablespoon olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the lamb, seam-side down. Sear until well marked on all sides, turning as needed, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the lamb to a baking pan and roast in the oven until an instant read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the meat reads 140 F, about 40 minutes, basting occasionally. Remove from oven, cover loosely with foil, and let rest 10 minutes.

While the lamb is roasting, deglaze the skillet. Add the red wine to the pan, scraping up any bits from lamb, and reduce by half. Add the blood orange juice, balsamic vinegar, thyme, and brown sugar. Simmer, stirring, until slightly reduced, about XX minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste and strain (optional).

Combine the mint, parsley, pistachios, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to coarsely chop. Add the oil, zest, salt, and pepper, and pulse to blend without forming a paste. The consistency should be finely chopped with a crumbly consistency.

Discard the strings from lamb. Cut in 3/4-inch thick slices. Serve on warm plates, drizzled with the balsamic blood orange sauce and sprinkled with the gremolata.