Pancetta and Brussels Sprouts Risotto

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1/2 pound Brussels Sprouts
1 cup Arborio rice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
3 ounces pancetta, chopped
16 ounces chicken broth
1/4 white wine

Romano cheese grated

1. Remove the outer leaves and stems of the Brussels sprouts, rinse with water and cut in half (If very large Brussels sprouts, cut into quarters), set aside.
2. Meanwhile, in a medium pot, bring chicken broth to a boil. Gently put the Brussels sprouts into the boiling chicken broth. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes. With a small strainer, remove the
Brussels sprouts to a bowl and set aside. Keep the chicken broth to use when preparing the risotto.
3. In a large frying pan, add the olive oil and onion, saute until tender. Add the pancetta and cook a few minutes more, until golden. Add the Arborio rice to the pan and cook until
lightly toasted, continuously stirring while cooking. Add the white wine and continue cooking until the wine is absorbed.
4. With a ladle, spoon the chicken broth in the pan one ladle at a time until the liquid is absorbed before adding another ladle of chicken broth. Continue Until you have the last ladle of
chicken broth to add, then put the Brussels sprouts in the pan at the same time as the last ladle of chicken broth. Cook until rice is al dente, 10 to 15 minutes.
5. At this time taste the risotto, if a bit too hard, cook a few more minutes until more tender.
6. Serve immediately, garnishing with grated Romano cheese on top.
7. ENJOY! – “Risotto” is the new rice!

This recipe is one that originally came to me from an email newsletter I subscribe to called Sunday Pasta, which sends different recipes for Sunday dinner.
The website is garrubbo.com.

The combination of Brussels sprouts and pancetta in risotto piqued my interest enough to attempt to prepare this recipe. But the recipe was for twice the amount then I wanted to make, so I took the liberty of adjusting the ingredient amounts to half. My preference was to use chicken broth and Romano cheese in my version of the recipe and I eliminated the pepper.

The traditional Sunday dinner is disappearing from my own family’s dinners. Sunday dinner was sacred at one time. Dinner time was late afternoon, no one played with their cell phones and the meal would last for 3 hours. Whether dinner was at home or at an Italian restaurant it was never rushed. Just a few weeks ago, I tried to plan for my kids and grandkids to come to a Sunday dinner at our house in the upcoming weeks. Well, Sunday will not work out because of prior commitments, but Saturday will work. At this point, I am thrilled to have the family for dinner no matter what day of the week it is. Times are different but the value of sitting down to a meal together with generations of family remains the same. Of course, Sunday Pasta will be served!

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Homemade Tomato Sauce

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1 large bowl of home grown tomatoes
olive oil
hand full of fresh basil
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 to 2 cans tomato paste
salt and pepper

1. Rinse tomatoes, make a crisscross on one end of the tomatoes.
2. Fill a large pot with water about 3/4. Bring to a boil. Drop tomatoes into the boiling water for less than a minute, remove from boiling water with a
slotted spoon. The tomatoes will be very hot to handle, so with a pot holder on one hand, quickly peel the skin from the tomato with the tip of a sharp
knife with the other hand. The skins should fall right off if done immediately.
Set peeled tomatoes on the side.
3. In the meantime, in another large pot, add olive (about 2-3 tablespoons) to cover the bottom of the pot. Add chopped garlic and onions. Saute on a low
to medium flame, until the onions are translucent.
4. On a cutting board, quarter tomatoes and place into a food processor. Blend tomatoes. With a strainer over the pot of garlic and onions, add the blended
tomatoes to the pot. I use a large spoon to strain and squeeze the tomatoes through the strainer. This straining will keep the tomato seeds from going in
the sauce in the pot. Continue this process till all of the tomatoes have been strained.
5. All the time, cook your sauce on a low to medium flame. Fresh tomatoes contain a lot of water. Add one to two cans of tomato paste to thicken your sauce.
6. If fresh basil is available, wash a handful and put into the sauce. Add salt and pepper and stir.
7. Cook sauce with a cover that is sligthly ajar for about 3 to 4 hours on a low flame, to just simmer. Stir every 20 minutes to 30 minutes.
8. ENJOY – Mangia!

Here a tomato, there a tomato, everywhere a tomato. If you planted your tomatoes at the right time, now at the end of summer, you probably have a bounty of ripe tomatoes.

That is exactly what my daughter, Marisa and her husband, Jeff, have at their home in Buffalo, New York. They were coming to my house for a visit last weekend and I called to see if they needed anything special from the supermarket. Marisa asked me what I was shopping for and I said I needed tomatoes. “Don’t buy any tomatoes!” she practically shouted through the cell phone. “We are bringing you a bag full, and some cucumbers and zucchini”. Okay, I won’t buy tomatoes. Truthfully, I was thinking she was bringing a brown paper bag of tomatoes and not the shopping bag full of tomatoes she actually brought me.

After cutting up a few tomatoes for a pasta salad, I thought now what am I going to do with all these beautiful ripe tomatoes. In previous years, I canned tomatoes. I did it two years in a row and I pretty much made the decision that canning wasn’t something I really enjoyed. Marisa and Jeff can tomatoes and I patiently wait to see if they will share a few jars with me.

Tom, my husband, who in his own right is a good cook, and I decided to make homemade fresh tomato sauce with the shopping bag of Marisa and Jeff’s tomatoes. It was a joint effort with him boiling and peeling the tomatoes and me processing and cooking the sauce.

The aroma of the tomato sauce was so overwhelming while simmering on the stove, my other daughter, Mia, impatiently, burned the roof of her mouth, from dipping bread a few times into the pot of hot sauce to taste.

We all agreed over our pasta dinner that night, this homemade tomato sauce compliments of Marisa and Jeff’s home grown tomatoes, was delizioso !