Friday, September 23, 2011

Creamy Rice with Squash

As you may know, I am obsessed with Lidia Bastianich. Lidia has a great show on PBS called Lidia's Italy where she cooks and travels through the Italian countryside and coastline, showing viewers how to make simple and delicious meals that somehow wind up still being healthy and affordable as well. I think she is the best chef on TV today, though I am partial to the PBS chefs because they aren't as campy as their Food Network counterparts. A lot of Lidia's meals are made all in one pot. They seem to be meals that you can make to feed your family while not losing your marbles. I like those kinds of meals. This one struck me as particularly delightful. She was doing a special on rice dishes and how to make a creamy risotto-esque dish without standing over the pot for 30 minutes of stirring. As lovely as the toned arms would be, not many people have the time or inclination to stir risotto when they get home from work. This dish eliminates the stirring and still gives a creamy result. I loved this as a simple supper, but I also served the leftovers as a side dish the next night and it was equally divine. I hope you enjoy my take on Lidia's genius. Creamy Rice with Squash
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 small squash
1/2 tsp. thyme
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 cups rice
3 cups water (or Vegetable Stock)
Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
olive oil

1. In a heavy bottom pot, saute chopped onions and garlic in 1 Tbs. olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and thyme and let saute for 3-4 minutes.
2. Peel and chop the squash into 1-inch pieces.
3. Add the squash, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and saute with the onions for another 3 minutes.
4. Add the rice and the bay leaf and stir for 2-3 minutes so that the rice gets slightly toasted in the oil.
5. Add the water (or stock) to the pot and bring to a simmer.
6. Cover and cook on very low heat until the rice is fluffy and cooked through, which should take about 25 minutes.
7. Serve with a generous sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

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