Risi e ceci (chick pea risotto)
If you like to cook, you probably own a book by Mark Bittman. Most likely it is How to Cook Everything, which I am pretty sure my mom gave me when I rented my first apartment after college, and is one of the most torn, sticky and crumb-filled books in my kitchen. When I have a cooking question, it’s usually Bittman first and Google second. His books are a great way to learn to cook, rather than just follow a recipe — learn his basic recipe, try one of his variations and finally add your own tweaks. This recipe comes from Food Matters, and is a take on a classic risotto with rice and peas. I swapped chick peas for peas and cilantro for parsley. Oh, and I used traditional arborio rice instead of brown. The result is very tasty, and still about the healthiest dish you can make that still counts as risotto.
.5 cup arborio rice
1 cup cooked chick peas (Canned is fine. Or refer to this recipe for an easy way of cooking most beans from scratch.)
1 small yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
.5 cup raw pepitas
1 cup vegetable broth (1 cup boiling water + .5 cube vegetable bouillon. I like Rapunzel brand)
1 small bunch cilantro, washed, well dried and finely minced
2t olive oil
salt + pepper
parmesan or pecorino
Boil water in tea kettle. Make vegetable broth in a glass mixing cup, with 1 cup boiling water and half a bouillon cube. Set aside.
Preheat toaster oven to 350. Lay pepitas on a sheet of foil on toaster pan. Spray with canola, and sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika. Bake for about 20 minutes, until seeds are dry and crisp.
Warm oil in a medium saucepan. Toast rice for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently until just brown.
Now add carrots and onion and cook for about 5 more minutes, until vegetables are soft. Add broth and oregano. Raise broth to rolling boil, turn flame to medium, and cook for about 30 minutes. Stir frequently and do not let rice burn on bottom of pan. Although you want rice to get fluffy, expand substantially and absorb most broth, you do not want risotto to dry out. Feel free to add more water if need be, as well as extra salt and pepper.
Cook until rice is soft and most water absorbed. Stir in chick peas, and let cook about five more minutes. Grate a decent amount of pecorino or parmesan and stir in cilantro. Turn off flame and cover.
Serve in soup bowls with pepitas and extra grated cheese.