Tag Archives: Casein Free

Harvest Risotto

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The autumnal equinox has officially passed, and we are now experiencing the evening hours growing darker and the air growing more crisp. I’m more accustomed to the Indian Summers of Texas, so this more iconic autumn weather here in Virginia is a refreshing change of pace.

Along with the shift in temperatures come a shift in palate. Instead of seafood and endless summer squash, I’m craving heartier roasts and roots. “Storage” crops like winter squash in whimsical varieties also grace the store shelves, and they make a delicious addition to this classic, comforting dish.

 

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Rice has a contentious role within the “paleosphere.” Being that it is a grain, it is not included in paleo canon, but has found neutral favor in many circles (such as here, here, and here) for those who tolerate it. Some have even purported specific benefits.

Until we discovered Isaac’s dairy intolerance, I had been waking up with him several times a night between his 7th and 13th month of age. These perpetual sleep interruptions paired with an accidental gluten ingestion over Memorial Day led to the most significant adrenal crash I’ve had since before I went gluten free. After spending most of June and all of July sick with never-ending respiratory infections, I’ve been working to specifically bring my adrenal function back to baseline health. A vital part of adrenal recovery is moderating glucose, as too much of a glucose load stresses out the adrenals, but without sufficient cortisol, my body isn’t efficient at gluconeogenesis (manufacturing necessary glucose in the absence of dietary carbohydrates). It’s a balancing act,¬†and¬†including rice in my diet (in addition to starchy vegetables like squashes, parsnips, plantains, and all manner of potato) keeps my carb intake from dipping too low while keeping my sugar cravings at bay. It also makes my trips to the local Thai restaurant more frequent, but that’s beside the point.

Rice is made particularly flavor-full and nutrient-dense in this risotto with the inclusion of not only seasonal squashes and seeds, but mineral-and-collagen-rich chicken stock. I’ve used my own home brew in this recipe, but store-bought broth will work in a pinch (Pacific Natural is gluten-free), and I imagine mushroom stock would be particularly delicious!

 

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Harvest Risotto
{gluten free, dairy free-optional, vegan-optional}
Serves 6-8

4 cups (1 quart) chicken, vegetable, or mushroom stock
3 cups water
1-2 tbsp ghee, butter, or coconut oil
2 leeks, green and white parts sliced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1.5 cup arborio rice
1 cup hard cider, dry preferably (substitute fresh apple cider for non-alcoholic)
1 lb of butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1/2″ cubes (about 1 small squash)
1/4 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1 tsp ground sage
1/2 tsp ground thyme
1-1.5 tsp kosher salt (or to taste)
black pepper to taste
raisins for garnish (optional)

Make sure you have all your ingredients chopped/minced/sliced ahead of time.

Pour the stock and water together in a large saucepan and set over high heat. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a gentle simmer. You will maintain this simmer for the duration of the recipe.

Set a separate, large saute pan over medium heat and add the butter/ghee/coconut oil. Once the fat is melted and shimmery (but not burning), add the leeks. Gently saute until soft, usually 3-5 minutes, being careful not to burn. Add the garlic and dry rice and saute together until the rice is gently toasted, about 5 more minutes. Add the hard cider and continue to stir frequently until the cider has been fully absorbed into the rice and there is none pooling in the pan.

Now, add a ladle-full of stock to the rice. In similar fashion to the cider, stir frequently while the rice absorbs the stock. Be careful not to let the pan get so hot that the stock evaporates instead of absorbing into the rice. Once each ladle-full of stock is absorbed, add another ladle-full, continuing on with the stirring-absorbing-and-adding-more-stock. This is a great time to turn on some music and sip the rest of that cider you have.

Once you have used about half of the stock, stir in the butternut squash and pepitas. Continue ladling-and-stirring the stock into the rice until both the butternut squash and the rice are soft and cooked-through. The rice will be sticky and creamy.

Stir in the sage, thyme, salt, and pepper.

Serve warm, topped with raisins, if desired.

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