I am always thinking of ways to innovate a recipe. I have decided to share with you four unique recipes that can be created individually or combined for a harmonious and composed plate. Although I would eat any of these independently, I believe that the combination of such seasonal ingredients creates an unparalleled flavor with an outstanding variety of texture. Tender grains, crisp sunchokes, delicate mushrooms, and vibrant watercress. Cook with love. Enjoy.
This spin on risotto substitutes an empty starch, rice, for a nutritious, wholesome, and sustainable grain loaded with protein. Sorghum. Sorghum is a drought-resistant cereal crop that has been used in India and Africa for hundreds of years.
One cup has 1/2 your daily protein and 1/2 your daily fiber!
It is spring and the ramps are in season. These delicate young spring onions from just up the Hudson Valley, add a bite and subtle sweetness to this tender but toothsome grain.
Mushrooms are magical. Maitake mushroom are one of my favorites, delivering amazingly deep flavor that are second only to the associated health benefits. Personally, I like a crispy mushroom. My recipe for roasted mushrooms will give you an irresistible crunch with a tender interior. Ill tell you the trick…don’t shake the pan. Patience is a virtue.
In my opinion, sunchokes are an underutilized root vegetable. Similar to the Jerusalem artichoke, the sunchoke has an earthy flavor with subtle sweetness that can be teased out and brightened by a bit of lemon, honey and aromatic herbs. Think a cross of a turnip, potato, and artichoke. My honey roasted sunchokes are a sure way to please the crowd or your lover. Fresh out of the oven there is no comparison. Trust me.
I love greens: it’s in part how I got my name. A light watercress salad is wonderful as a standalone, but even better when paired with a creamy ramp risotto. Watercress is a peppery green that is under appreciated. For me, it is a spicier and more flavorful alternative to arugula. Buy local and you will be rewarded.
Just So You Know: The Health Benefits of Sorghum. Sorghum is:
• Naturally gluten free, and is an anti-inflammatory agent
• Has higher levels of antioxidants than pomegranates and blueberries
• May inhibit cancer tumor growth – Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry
• May protect against diabetes and insulin resistance
• May help manage cholesterol
• May help treat human melanoma - Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry
• Contains tannins, phenolic acids, anthocyanins, phytosterols and pholicosanols
Sorghum – 1 cup
Vegetable Stock 3 cup
White wine – 1 cup
Rinse, drain, and pick through sorghum. Combine 3 cups water or stock and 1 cup Sorghum in a pot with a tight-fitting lid. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and let simmer until tender, about 50 – 60 minutes. Drain any excess water.
Ramp Bulb – 5 ea. minced
Onion – ¼ ea. minced
Garlic – 3 cloves minced
Parsnip – 1 each (small dice)
Sorghum –1 cup (cooked)
White Wine – 1 ½ cup
Ramp Tops – 10 ea. Sliced
Butter – 2 tbsp
Salt and Pepper – to taste
The Method – Risotto is all about pulling the starch from rice or grain. Because sorghum is precooked, we can do our best to make it creamy. Always stir the grain the same way. Not because it matters, but because it will create intention in your cooking and intention tastes good.
In a sauté pan, on low heat combine the minced ramp, onion and garlic. Sweat until translucent and sweet. Next, add a dash of white wine and let it reduce. Add the cooked grain and begin stirring. Add another dash and let it evaporate out. Add the diced parsnip. Continue adding liquid until the cup of wine you have gone through ½ cup. Next, fold the ramp tops into the risotto and add the butter while constantly stirring. Add salt and pepper to taste.
The consistency should be loose and free flowing. And as always, the risotto should run when served on the plate.
Honey Roasted Sunchoke
Sunchoke – 5 each (cut into wedges)
Garlic – 2 cloves smashed
Olive Oil – 2 tbsp
Honey – 1 tsp
Thyme – 3 sprigs
The Method - Wash the sunchokes well, being sure to remove all dirt. Next slice them into wedges (1/6). Preheat the oven to 350 F. Heat a medium sized sauce pan over medium high heat and add olive oil.
Once the oil is shimmering, add the sunchokes and let sit. Add the cloves of garlic. Once the first side is browned, toss, add the sprig of thyme, and place in the oven for about 7 min. Once the sunchokes are crispy and golden brown, add the honey and some more thyme to the pan. Toss to evenly coat the sunchokes, return to the oven for 2-3 min. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
Crispy Maitake Mushrooms
Maitake Mushrooms – 100g (about 1 ½ cup)
Olive Oil – 1 tbsp
Lemon – ½ ea juiced
Thyme – 2 sprigs picked
Salt and Pepper
The Method - Mushrooms can be tough to cook properly. Do not wash the mushrooms. Simply look through and remove any unwanted material. Separate mushrooms into slightly larger than bite sized pieces. Over medium high heat, heat a sauté pan. Add olive oil and when shimmering add the mushrooms. DO NOT SHAKE THE PAN. Let the mushrooms sit and brown. Shaking them releases the water, which will steam them and they will no longer be crunchy and golden. Once the first side is browned (approx.. 2 ½ min) shake the pan, add the thyme, and let sit for an additional 2 min. When the mushrooms are golden and crisp, season with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Give them a taste and serve.
Watercress – 4 small handfuls (picked)
Lemon – ½ ea. Juiced
Extra Virgin Olive Oil – 1 tbsp
Salt and Pepper
The Method – this one is easy. After washing and drying, pick through the pieces and choose the desirable greens. In a mixing bowl, season the watercress with salt and pepper then add lemon juice and olive oil. Carefully coat the greens with the dressing using your hands.
Composing the Dish
In the center of the plate, spoon about 1/2 of a cup of risotto. Let it run into a circle. Carefully place the mushrooms and sunchokes on top of the grain to ensure that they stay crispy. Next, place a small handful of the watercress salad on top if you are in the mood, or serve it on the side if you want to show off the beautiful risotto. Drizzle with a high quality extra virgin olive oil and serve immediately.
Eat it separate or combine these recipes in any which way that you like, it will all be tasty.