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Saturday, April 4, 2015

Grilled Spring Vegetable Risotto with Buckwheat and Millet

I'm having a hard time sticking to seasonal produce.  I know bell peppers and zucchini are way ahead of their game for late march, carrots are still reasonable and asparagus is not French enough yet.. It's mostly from Spain or Turkey.
But I can't help it!  These things all want to come home with me every single shopping trip!  I don't have the heart to tell them "no," especially when I know how much satisfaction they will be giving me.  What am I supposed to do?  It's not like I never eat cabbage and apples.  I want bright green springy colors!  Plus, I've been really good about not buying tomatoes.  I'll buy canned or dried when they're not in season and I have the urge.  I just can't resist the rest.  I love grilled zucchini and roasted peppers.  I could binge on them for weeks.  Add asparagus to the party and make me smile.  Top with some purple carrots and sundried tomatoes and make me shine...
With all that in mind, I have a bag of millet I've been meaning to use, but didn't quite know what to do with.  Ah yes.. risotto it!  My Italian friends would freak out if they knew what I was calling "risotto" without using arborio or carnaroli rice, but it's the method that makes it a risotto in my opinion.  Aside from the buckwheat and millet instead of rice, the rest is perfectly in tune with what any Italian would call a risotto.  Why don't I ever do it the "normal" way?  Well, I just never have that kind of rice on hand.  I usually have a wide variety of pulses, beans, and grains and the only rice I usually have is basmati or red.. which would probably be even more of a sacrilege, wouldn't it?
Serves 5-6 as a side
3/4 cup buckwheat bulgur
1/4 cup millet
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, grated
1/2 cup Guiness (or wine if GF)
zest from 1 lime
3 cups hot chicken or veg broth
1 purple carrot, peeled sliced, and griddled
1 red bell, roasted and peeled
1 bunch asparagus, roasted
1/2 cup green peas (mine were frozen)
6-7 sundried tomatoes, diced
1 handful parmesan
lots of cracked black pepper
chopped parsley for garnish
1.  In a wide, heavy based pan, heat the oil and add the buckwheat and millet.  Coat, allowing to toast a bit for 2-3 minutes, stirring, then add the Guiness and wait until it absorbs.
2.  Add in the lime zest.  Then, as you would with a normal risotto, ladle in the hot broth, 1/2 cup at a time, and continue to stir while doing this.  Do this on medium heat until all or most of the broth is absorbed.  Taste and make sure the millet is cooked.
3.  Jazz it up.  Stir in the veggies, parmesan, and load it up with black pepper.  Keep some vegetable odd and ends for decoration if you are so inclined.  Garnish with chopped parsley
I served alongside some Faith Cakes and Marinated Sardine Filets.

Risotto with buckwheat just makes sense.  The starch factor is ever present, and it has a very large absorption capacity.. plus that nutty flavor is so pleasant I just like to put it everywhere.
The millet was a nice touch.  I usually mix bulgur with quinoa, so this wasn't too extreme and the taste was not distinct, considering all the other good stuff that went into the dish.  It may have helped to keep it compact, for millet tends to solidify when cooked.  I'm curious to do other things with this little bit of human seed...

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