Saturday, March 18, 2006


Best Blog Tips

Brian and I love risotto, but we usually think of it on the spur of the moment, so I almost never make it the old-fashioned way. Sometimes I make it in a pressure cooker (which many Italians do nowadays, I have it on good authority-- see my book "Nonna's Italian Kitchen" for instructions), but today for lunch I made it in the microwave oven. We had some fresh asparagus to use and it's getting pretty springlike out there..we can hear the frogs at night now.. so this seemed like the perfect dish. I decided to top it off with a few slices of our favorite tofu dish. Delish!

PS: Afraid of microwave ovens? Read this.

Printable Copy

Serves 4 as a side dish or starter, 2 or 3 as a main dish
© Bryanna Clark Grogan 2006

Barbara Kafka, one of America's most renowned food writers and for many years a columnist for Gourmet magazine, in her book “Microwave Gourmet” writes: "If anything could convince the true cook, or even the ardent eater, that the microwave oven is a tool worth having, it would be that it makes risotto divinely, effortlessly, and relatively rapidly while the cook talks to the guests. From being a once-a-year treat, it can go to being an everyday delight." And: "The very idiosyncrasy of cooking that makes the microwave oven generally unacceptable for the cooking of floury dishes makes risotto work well. Starch absorbs liquid slowly in the microwave oven, and it also absorbs too much. That is exactly what you want the rice to do in a risotto."

This is the exception to the rule that it isn't really a time-saver to cook rice in a microwave oven. With this method, you can have creamy, savory risotto in under 20 minutes, with no stirring. (Another advantage is that you can cook it right in the serving dish, so you have no dirty pot!)

Note: Cooked risotto should be al dente — that is, fully cooked, yet still somewhat firm to the bite. If you prefer a softer, soupier risotto, simply add an extra one-half to one cup of liquid.

1 Tbsp. vegan butter (my homemade version) or olive oil
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 cup superfino arborio rice
2 and 7/8 cups chicken-style vegetarian broth (room temperature)
2 Tbsp. dry sherry or white wine (or more broth-- 3 use cups liquid in total)
1 lb. fresh asparagus, trimmed and sliced diagonally 2” long
1/2 cup frozen baby peas, thawed in hot water and drained
2-4 T. vegan Parmesan  (optional)
Freshly-ground black pepper to taste
8 or 9 slices of Crispy Breast of Tofu Slices (a recipe from almost all of my cookbooks-- UPDATE:  it's called "Crispy Marinated Tofu" in World Vegan Feast-- and the recipe is also here )

In a medium-to-large-sized microwave-safe casserole place the vegan butter. Microwave about 45 seconds to melt. Add the green onions, cover and cook on full power for 1 1/2 minutes. Add the rice, and stir well. Cook uncovered on full power for 1 1/2 minutes, then add the liquids and stir well.

Cook uncovered on full power 10 minutes.

While the risotto cooks, brown the Breast of Tofu as instructed in the recipe for "crispy slices" (see pics below), and roast the asparagus: Toss the trimmed asparagus spears with a little olive oil and kosher salt. Roast on a shallow baking pan at 500°F about 10-12 minutes, depending on the thickness of the spears.

Add the peas to the risotto and cook 4 minutes longer. Stir in the roasted asparagus and optional Parmesan substitute, stirring well but carefully, so as not to break up the vegetables. The rice should slightly sauce-y (I don’t like it too “soupy”). Taste the rice to see if it's done to your liking (see Note above highlighted in pink)-- you may need to cook it for another minute or so—this will depend on the power of your microwave. Serve very hot on a heated soup plates, with the sliced Breast of Tofu placed decoratively on top. Add a sprig of fresh herb blossoms, if you have some in your garden.

MAKING BREAST OF TOFU,  recipe here:

Coated with Seasoned flour

In the pan




rae said...

i'm so glad to have found your new blog! your recipes and generosity are such an inspiration to me...and i just happen to have some asparagus in the 'fridge that i was wondering what to do with....

Anonymous said...

I made this recipe tonight (just the risotto portion) and it was indeed fast, easy and tasty! Thanks!