Weekly Winner: Pièce de Résistance Risotto

risottoWhat’s not to like about risotto, right?  It needs very little to be perfect.  Often, by adding a bunch of other stuff to it you only take away from the stunning simplicity of the dish.  Simple flavors are definitely the best.  The same can be said for tomatoes in summer.  Don’t mess with them.  They are fabulous just as they are — they need very little help to be sensational.  Put these two things together and you have the penultimate meal – Tomato and Parmesan Risotto.

The recipe for this bowl of awesomeness comes from Bon Appetit.  Honestly. after making this dish I am very tempted to trash all other risotto recipes.  They just seem overwrought and fussy.  However; perfect tomatoes will not be available year-round so maybe I’ll keep those other recipes around for the dead of winter.  Any other time, risotto means this dish.

Tomato and Parmesan Risotto

Serves 4


  • 5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes
  • ¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
  • 1 cup arborio or carnaroli rice
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 oz. finely grated Parmesan (about 1 cup), plus more shaved for serving
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  • Bring broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan; keep warm over medium-low heat until ready to use.

  • Meanwhile, heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large saucepan over medium. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until golden and very soft, 8–10 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until softened, about 1 minute. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring often, until it darkens slightly and begins to stick to pan, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and nutmeg, if using, and cook, stirring occasionally, until some of the tomatoes begin to burst, about 2 minutes.

  • Stir in rice; season with salt, and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring, until some grains are translucent, about 3 minutes. Ladle in 2 cups broth and simmer, stirring frequently, until completely absorbed, 8–10 minutes. Ladle in another 2 cups broth and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until rice is cooked through and most of the broth is absorbed, 12–15 minutes.

  • Add butter, 2 oz. Parmesan, and remaining 1 cup broth and cook, stirring constantly, until risotto is very creamy looking, about 4 minutes. Taste and season with more salt if needed. Divide risotto among bowls. Top with shaved Parmesan and lots of pepper and drizzle with more oil.

Weekly Winner:  Creamy, Dreamy, Green-y … Pasta??

It may not always be easy being green, to paraphrase Kermit, but sometimes it is and it is also incredibly tasty.  Friday’s spaghetti dinner was a surprisingly light, healthy take on pasta in a luscious cream sauce — one of my all-time favorite things.  And, to top it all off… It was vegetarian!  What is happening to us??

Amazingly I did not miss my usual pork product in the pasta, or the cream, or even the butter for that matter. Come to think of it, there wasn’t even cheese in this dish!  And, I went back last night to finish the leftovers when there was also leftover pizza in the fridge.  Pizza with bacon, I might add!  I don’t even recognize myself sometimes.

The recipe comes from Cooking Light and besides being wonderfully fresh and downright pretty, it is incredibly simple and comes together in no time.  My only alteration to this recipe is that it called for whole wheat pasta.  Yeah, that’s not going to happen in this house anytime soon.  I go for the real stuff.  The other funny thing about the recipe is that it specifically asked for one “peeled” avocado.  Really???  Has anyone out there ever attempted to eat an unpeeled avocado?  Thanks for clearing that up. Trust me…. It can be easy being green but only if you remember to peel the avocado.

Spaghetti with Spinach-Avocado Sauce

Serves 4 (or three in this house)


8 ounces uncooked spaghetti

1 cup baby spinach leaves

1/4 cup rinsed and drained unsalted cannellini beans

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons grated lemon rind

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 garlic cloves

1 ripe avocado

1/4 cup chopped tomato

2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted


1. Prepare pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking liquid. Drain pasta.

2. Combine reserved 1/2 cup cooking liquid, spinach, and next 8 ingredients (through avocado) in a food processor; process until smooth.

3. Combine pasta and spinach mixture; toss to coat. Sprinkle with tomato and almonds.