Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Greek Couscous Salad

From Friday to Tuesday we had a glimpse of spring weather. Indeed, Monday and Tuesday got into the 60s! The sun was shining. Scarves, hats, and mittens were unnecessary. Boots were left on the mat at home.

Then there was last night. The rain/hail/snow/windstorm came back with vengeance. It woke me in the middle of the night for a few hours while it was trying to break through my windows. In the morning I could hear people scraping the icy snow mixture off their cars. I almost threw the covers over my head and declared I wasn't coming out until winter leaves us alone.

Unfortunately real life doesn't allow me to do that. So I'll settle for spring on my plate. In the form of this couscous salad. It goes perfect as a side to a grilled pork chop, chicken breast, or piece of fish. Make it. Sip a fruity cocktail. Pretend spring is out of hibernation for real.

Greek Couscous Salad 
1 1/2 cups cooked couscous
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1/2 cup chopped tomato
1/4 cup diced red onion
kernels from one ear of corn
1/3 cup sliced black olives
1/3 cup feta cheese
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper, to taste

Stir together the couscous, vegetables, olives, and cheese. Squeeze the lemon juice on top and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper, to your own taste.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Bacon and Leek Risotto

Dad: What are you making for dinner tonight?
Julie: Risotto.
Dad: Oh so what type of wine are you drinking?
Julie: Haha. I'm using a Sauvignon Blanc for the risotto.

Okay, okay. I admit it. I like to make risotto because it gives me an excuse to open a bottle of wine. What else would you do while you are standing over the stove stirring for 30 minutes instead of drinking a glass of wine?

And this bottle of wine risotto is as good as it sounds. I mean, bacon and leeks! What really puts it over the top though is the lemon juice. Do not forget the lemon juice.

Bacon and Leek Risotto (adapted from Cooking Light January 2014)
3 cups vegetable broth (homemade or low sodium store-bought)
3 bacon slices
2 cups thinly sliced leek
1 small onion, diced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 cup uncooked arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
chopped fresh parsley, for serving

Heat the stock to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Cover and keep warm over a low heat.

Cut the bacon into pieces and then cook over medium high heat until crisp. Remove the bacon pieces from the pan, leaving behind about 1 tbsp bacon grease. Add the leek, onion, and garlic and saute about 4 minutes until tender. Stir in the rice and cook about 2 minutes to toast. Stir in the white wine and cook for about 5 minutes while stirring until the liquid is absorbed. Add the broth about 1/2 cup at a time stirring constantly until the liquid is absorbed before adding more. Cook until the rice is at your desired consistency. Stir in the lemon juice, butter and parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper to your taste.

Serve topped with the reserved bacon pieces and parsley.

Serves 4.