Yeah, yeah... it's not easy to find the time to cook—believe me, I know. But if there's one thing you should do to treat yourself well, it's to forgo the fast food and frozen Hungry-Man dinners and take a few hours to make a tasty, balanced meal that's also likely to be loads healthier.
With a little planning, you can turn one cooking session into a week's worth of meals by preparing a large pot of your favorite chili, pasta, curry or the like and freezing the leftovers.
But I get tired of food too easily to eat the same thing more than once a week.
Well, just cook a large batch of a different meal you enjoy and stuff your leftovers in the freezer. You may be extremely busy, but if you can invest three hours a week into creating one large meal with leftovers, then within a month's time you'll have a variety of frozen dishes to choose from.
I can't cook to save my life, though!
How about asking a food-savvy friend or family member to help out? Parents and grandparents often love the opportunity to teach their "little angel" something new, and you'll even be able to spend quality time together. If those around you can't distinguish quinoa from white rice, you could always crack open a cookbook, too. Successfully preparing a new dish can involve trial and error, but after a few attempts you should be a pro.
I'm lucky to have an amazing friend with an ingenious culinary mind to help me overcome my cooking-related shortcoming. Thanks to my friend, the below risotto recipe featuring garlic—which we have no shortage of in Gilroy—and artichokes exists. Give this risotto a try, and enjoy the leftovers for weeks to come. Bon Appétit!
Roast Garlic and Artichoke Heart Risotto with Parmigiano Reggiano
- 20 cloves of fresh garlic
- 10 medium-sized (or 20 baby-sized) artichokes
- 1.5 cups shallots (small dice)
- 0.5 bunch of fresh thyme (chopped)
- 0.75 cup olive oil
- 15 oz. Arborio Rice
- 1 cup of white wine
- 1 gallon of vegetable stock
- 1 stick butter
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 cups of grated Parmesan cheese
- salt (to taste)
- 1 cup of chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees
- Remove outer leaves of all the artichokes, leaving just the innermost tender leaves. Cut off the top portion of the artichoke leaves and, using a peeler, peel off the outer skin of the stem. Cut the artichokes into quarters and, using a paring knife, carve out the inner thistle of the artichoke heart while carefully leaving the remaining portion of the leaves attached to the artichoke heart. While continuing to prepare the artichoke hearts, place the quartered portions of the artichoke heart into a medium-sized bowl of cold water containing the tablespoon of lemon juice.
- Once all the artichoke hearts are prepared, strain all the water from the artichoke hearts and coat the hearts with 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Spread the artichoke hearts out onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet and roast the artichoke hearts in the oven for approximately 45 minutes or until browned.
- Coat the garlic cloves with 1-2 tablespoons of the olive oil and place on a small baking sheet. Roast the garlic cloves in the oven for approximately 15-20 minutes or until browned. Cut the garlic into small slivers.
- Place the vegetable stock in a sauce pan onto the stove and heat until just steaming. Reduce the stove fire to a low simmer to maintain a heated stock.
- Using an immersion blender or conventional blender on low speed, blend 1 quart of the vegetable stock with 1/3 of the roasted artichoke hearts until a slightly chunky mixture is produced.
- In a large pan sauté the chopped shallots and chopped thyme in the remaining olive oil. Add the arborio rice to the sauce pan and, using a metal spoon, stir continually until the rice is just slightly brown in color. *Note- It is important to use a metal pan without a non-stick coating. Never use metal utensils on non-stick cookware.
- Once the arborio rice is slightly brown in color, add the white wine to the pan and continue to stir until most of the liquid has dissolved. Using the blended artichoke heart and vegetable stock mixture, add 3 cups of liquid to the contents of the pan while stirring continually until the liquid has mostly dissolved. Repeat this process using the remaining mixture, 3 cups at a time. Then, using the vegetable stock, continue to add 3 cups at a time of liquid while repeatedly stirring the contents of the pan. Once the liquid has mostly dissolved, add another 3 cups of the vegetable stock while continuing to stir. Repeat this process until the rice is cooked aldente, then add the cup of heavy cream, remaining artichoke hearts, and roasted garlic while continuing to stir the contents of the pan.
- Once the cream has reduced within the rice, remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the Parmesan cheese, butter and parsley until the butter has completely melted into the risotto. Carefully stir in some salt to taste and serve warm.