Warm weather foods often make us think Mediterranean or African or N.C. coastal. Salads, fresh veggies steamed and served at room temperature, local cheese, bread and grilled fish all are light and refreshingly easy to prepare. This summer, stay tuned for recipes inspired by the regions that celebrate our own hot weather crops.
The bumper crop of spinach still available at farmers' markets—even as the early tomatoes are coming in—has got me thinking. In addition to spinach salad for a Memorial Day cookout, as a steamed side dressed with soy sauce and sesame oil and the classic spinach quiche, I have come up with a weeknight quick-cook risotto.
Purists will insist this is not a true risotto, and they're right (though there are kitchen wars being waged over how much stirring is required to make a true version, and experience shows more stirring creates silkier texture). Still, good quality Arborio rice, cooked ahead and stirred into the liquid base just before serving, is delicious, uses whole grains paired with fresh local ingredients, and makes quick work of dinner. Leftovers travel well to the office for lunch and are good at room temperature. The recipe below has evolved through many forms and probably originated as a way to use leftover rice in a one-skillet meal. I have cooked rice just to use for this and also used day-old. Both work well, but if the rice has been refrigerated, break up the clumps before being adding to the skillet.