Risotto and Roasted Asparagus

When I was a kid, a family friend gave me a gift of a copy of Alice Water’s Fancy at Chez Panisse children’s cookbook. It’s a beautiful book with great recipes but I was a picky kid and the only thing I wanted to cook out of it was the risotto. The risotto was amazing though and has become a long standing favorite recipe of mine so when my picky eater fiance requested risotto to be on our menu for the week I knew this was the perfect recipe to make for him.


serves 4

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 bay leaf
  • pinch of thyme
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • salt and pepper
  • Parmesan cheese
  1. Melt the butter over medium heat in a large sauce pan. Add one tablespoon of olive oil and heat.
  2. Add the Arborio rice, bay leaf, and thyme. Cook for 5 minutes while stirring often.
  3. Add just enough broth to cover the rice (1 to 2 cups). Bring to a boil then turn the heat down and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the rest of the broth, one tablespoon of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste and cook for another 10 minutes.
  5. Remove the bay leaf. Ladle into bowls and garnish with Parmesan cheese.

This recipe is pretty basic and plain but like the fried rice recipe my mom posted recently you can throw in any meat or vegetables you have hanging out in your fridge. You can also easily make this recipe vegan by substituing an additional tablespoon of olive oil for the butter, vegetable stock for the chicken broth, and skipping the cheese.

We’re pretty cleaned out on leftovers right now so I made a side of roasted asparagus.

Roasted Asparagus

serves 4

  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  1. Wash and trim the ends off of the asparagus.
  2. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. Get your hands in there and spread the olive oil all over the asparagus.
  4. Spread the asparagus out on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 450 degrees F for 15 minutes.


Spinach and Artichoke Dip

My mom, Nancy, once told me that she thinks the food processor is a “stupid” appliance. She told me it couldn’t do anything that you couldn’t do with a blender so for years I went without one. Then one day I tried to mix up a pie crust in the blender and ended up with a giant mess. Not too long after than I spent about an hour grating a wedge of Parmesan by hand. And then I realized I was never going to be able to make spinach and artichoke dip, one of the only ways I’m willing to eat spinach but absolutely one of my favorite foods, without a food processor so I eventually caved in a got one. I absolutely love my food processor and use it multiple times a week.

Now that I have a food processor I can grate my own Parmesan for this recipe in under 30 seconds and save a bundle over pre-grated cheese and I can finally make a smooth and lovely dip. I’m not a fan of mayonnaise or marinated artichokes so I spent years looking for and refining this recipe (inspired by Everyday Food magazine) before I finally developed this version that I’ll make over and over again.

Scoop out a round of sourdough bread to serve this artichoke dip and I don’t think you can find a food that screams California any more than that.

For best results, thaw your frozen veggies in the refrigerator for 3-4 days before making this dip. If you try to add the frozen veggies straight to the food processor they won’t chop and mix smoothly.

Spinach and Artichoke Dip

  • 16 ounces frozen artichoke hearts
  • 4 ounces bar cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • juice from half a lemon
  • 1 clove garlic (or more to your taste)
  • 10 ounces frozen spinach
  1. Add 8 ounces of artichoke hearts, cream cheese, Parmesan, lemon juice, and garlic to the food processor. Process until smooth.
  2. Add spinach to the food processor. Process until smooth.
  3. Add the remaining 8 ounces of artichoke hearts to the food processor and pulse 4-5 times so that the artichoke hearts are chopped into bite size pieces and evenly distributed but still chunky.
  4. Serve cold or bake at 425 degrees until bubbly if you’d like a hot dip.

Enjoy with bread, tortilla chips, crackers, or raw veggies.

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