Thursday, May 13, 2010

Comfort Food: Roasted Tomato Risotto

There’s something about comfort food after a bad day. It’s just so, well, comfortable. And, luckily, because of their peasant food origins, most comfort foods are fairly inexpensive to make. Around our house, we refer to it as ‘eating thick’.

One of my favorite ‘thick’ dishes it risotto. It’s starchy and creamy and simple to make. I don’t know why risotto has this reputation of being difficult to prepare. It’s done in less than 30 minutes, and all you have to do is stir it every minute or two to get the creamy consistency that everyone desires. The trick is not to ignore it – so as long as you’re doing something in the kitchen anyway, what’s wrong with a little stirring?

Most risotto recipes call specifically for Arborio rice. Unfortunately, Arborio can be a little on the pricey side, so I substitute a less expensive rice. Just make sure it’s a short grain rice – the long grain varieties don’t have the starch content necessary to get the starchy goodness that you expect. I’ve found a Valencia rice on my local supermarket shelf that costs about two-thirds less than the Arborio options.

The other fantastic feature of risotto is that it’s a totally blank canvas. You can add whatever flavors you have on hand, making it easy to keep the costs down. I found some grape tomatoes on sale this week, and decided to incorporate them into my risotto fest. I’m a sucker for any roasted vegetable too. It’s such a simple way to bump up the flavors components of simple ingredients. So roasted tomato risotto was on the menu for comfort food night this week.

And because you can never have too many carbs on comfort food night, I also made some spinach bruschetta – because you have to have something to help scrape the risotto out of the bowl, right? It’s simple, quick, and tasty. The bonus is that it’s made of staples I always have on hand.

So who cares if the Atkins people won’t ever call and ask me to cook for them? Carbs help cope with stress – and that’s all that matters when you’re craving ‘thick’ after a long day.

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