Saturday, March 8, 2014

Fancy Frugal Foodie #1: Roasted Red Pepper Risotto

Even when you're a star, you might want to save some ka-ching!

Do you know those kids who are always coming up with new schemes to make a buck? Lemonade stands, popsicle stands, shoveling, window washing, cat-sitting for diabetic cats? Yeah, I was that kid.  I never really had particular goals about what to do with my money (thanks mom and dad for feeding and clothing me and for reading this blog if you are!), so I literally had a little stacks of one dollar bills on the floor in my room (is anyone surprised that house cleaning was not on my list of small business ideas).  Now that I'm an adult, I don't just throw my money on the ground, but I still love saving a buck where I can.  

Saving money is great, but classical economic theory teaches that there is an opportunity cost associated with saving money.  A foregone opportunity, because you saved that dollar instead of spending it.  It turns out in real life, that's not always the case (insert rant in defense of classical economics here).  That's what this recurring series (Fancy Frugal Foodie) is all about.  The opportunity to save money while enjoying some serious eats.

Roasted Red Pepper Risotto is a creamy, delicious, late winter dish that involved rescued produce, homemade stock, and no special ingredients at all.  Almost all of the flavor in this dish comes from the chicken stock, white wine, and vegetables, so you need very little dairy for the flavor to be right on the money (see that pun- it was on purpose).

The inspiration for this dish was a languishing red bell pepper from a few weeks ago.  I hate wasting food, but there was no way that I could just fry this up and put it on a burrito.  Roasting a bell pepper is a great way to rescue it (or to prevent it from going bad in the first place if you're really on the ball). Here's a tutorial on how to roast red peppers from a Spicy Perspective.  If you've got different produce languishing in your fridge, incorporate it into this dish instead of red peppers.  Roasting vegetables tends to bring out the sugars in the vegetables, and they taste phenomenal against the savory saltiness of risotto.

Unlike traditional risottos, I just used basmati rice rather than Arborio rice.  I've made risotto both ways, and I feel just as fancy with normal white rice.

Finally a note on homemade stock.  Just a few months ago, my mom inspired me to start making homemade chicken stock, and it has revolutionized my cooking.  I cannot explain to you how delicious this stock is in everything!  Each chicken stock I make is differenty, but each one tastes delicious. She uses the skins and bones from rotisserie chickens.  Since I cannot get boneless skinless chicken thighs at either of my local grocery stores, I remove the skin and bones before freezing them, and add them to the stock.  Here's a quick link to Good Cheap Eats, where she shows how to make a chicken stock.

Roasted Red Pepper Risotto

1T Oil
1 Onion Diced
4 Cloves Garlic Minced
1C Rice
4C Chicken Stock
1/3C white wine (it's a great flavor but you can just leave it out if you don't have any)
2T Grated Parmesan Cheese (I used the stuff in the green canister)
1/2 Bell Pepper Roasted
1C of Frozen Green Peas

1. Heat oil over medium heat, and saute onions and garlic until onions are translucent
2. Add rice and stir continuously for 3-4 minutes (allowing rice to toast)
3. Add one cup of chicken stock at a time. Once all the chicken stock is absorbed add another cup.  Stir frequently throughout this process.  For me, this took about 25-30 minutes
4. Once all stock is absorbed, add wine and allow it to absorb
5. Add peas and Parmesan cheese and stir.
6. Once peas are heated, add roasted red peppers and serve (top with more parmesan if desired).

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