Fennel Orzotto with Roasted Baby Eggplants (or Chicken) – 25/67

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Today (well, Friday, when I wrote this), the sky is blue, the sun is shining, and the weather feels like it should for September. This morning, students all over the country went to climate strikes, and let the world know they aren’t afraid to use their voices. Earlier this week, Elizabeth Warren held a rally in Washington Square Park and talked about how she’s here because of women’s work. And she took selfies with the crowd for 4 hours. And she had people in the crowd introduce themselves to their neighbors (the best way to quickly form community, imho). I can’t help but be excited. (Feel free to listen to this episode of The Daily and then talk about it with me.) Change and plans and revolt are in the air. 

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Also today, I had my first rehearsal for a new kid’s puppet show I’m directing. It felt like the right group of humans in the room, and we joked around about Ritz the Rat (“The name’s Ritz, Puttin’ on The”) and silly songs. It was goofy and fun and optimistic. Today I’m marginally hung over from drinking two carafes of wine last night with friends over pizza and burrata. Today I have happily consumed leftovers from Daniel’s last night solo cooking adventure, a rice-bean-veggie instant pot affair, even though it includes some little pieces of chicken. I have come to accept I am more flexitarian than vegetarian these days. I will not go out of my way to order or buy meat. But if someone has already purchased it and made it, I don’t have to be as strict, especially when it means free lunch. I’m still not particularly interested in cooking chicken (and that’s really the only meat I’d broach the subject about), but please don’t get mad at me for eating a soup dumpling and still calling myself mostly a vegetarian. (Nobody actually does this, everyone I know is quite even-keeled and open-minded, I’m just putting it out there as a generality.) I realize the earth doesn’t need more meat eaters, and I never want it to be a regular part of my diet. But also, meat dumplings taste better than veggie dumplings. 

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All this to say, I don’t mind a couple Daniel-made chicken-adjacent ingredients. A cup of chicken broth goes far in an otherwise vegetarian dish, and usually makes Daniel more excited to eat whatever it is we’re cooking. I was okay eating this orzo, even though it was browned in chicken fat. I know this isn’t the case for real vegetarians, and apologize if I’ve offended you or lead you astray. So I give the caveat of this delicious recipe — I’ve only made the meaty version of the orzotto (which is, uh, orzo cooked like risotto). And I loved it. So much flavor! However I’m sure it would be equally delicious as a purely veggie main, using just butter or some olive oil in the early steps. The eggplant was a wonderful chicken replacement. Let me know if you try it. 

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three years ago: miso mizuna soup
five years ago: spicy micheladas

Fennel Orzotto with Roasted Baby Eggplants (or Chicken) 

thank you Molly for this delicious dinner recipe! (that I totally hacked to make it more veg-adjacent)

Baby Eggplant – a riff on this real simple recipe 

2 baby eggplants
1 lemon, half in slices, half juiced
Herb sprigs such as thyme, oregano, or rosemary
A couple sliced garlic cloves
Olive oil
s&p

Preheat oven to 450F. Make a slit in your eggplants, and stuff with lemon and garlic and herbs if you got them. Drizzle with half a lemon’s worth of juice and some olive oil. Liberally salt and pepper. Place in a small dish and cover with foil. Roast for 40ish minutes, flipping occasionally, until puckery and soft and tender. Take foil off for last 5 minutes of cooking.

 Chicken and Fennel Orzotto 

2 tablespoons butter
3 chicken legs, bone-in and skin-on (This recipe originally called for 6 pieces of chicken, but I decided the eggplants were a good sub for half the chicken. All other amounts from Molly’s original recipe have remained) 

1 fennel bulb, chopped small (fronds chopped and reserved for garnish)
1 leek, white and pale green parts, in half moons
1 cup dried orzo
⅓ cup dry white wine
2½ cups broth
Zest and juice from half a lemon, plus extra wedges to serve
Chopped fresh parsley
s&p

(This is the part about Chicken)

Preheat oven to 400F. 

Melt butter in a biggish cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Salt and pepper your chicken legs. Place chicken in pan, skin side down. Make sure chicken is in a single layer. If it doesn’t all fit, nestle in new pieces when old ones have slightly shrunk. Cook until meat is opaque around the edges and skin is deeply golden, about 6-7 minutes. Turn chicken so the skin side is up, and transfer skillet to oven, where your eggplant may already be cooking. If so, turn oven down to 400 for this part. Bake until chicken is cooked through, 10-15 minutes. Or until a sticky pokey thing says 160F. Transfer chicken pieces to a plate. Turn oven back up to 450F if roasting eggplant. 

(Start here for Veg Orzotto)

Return skillet to medium heat. (If veg version, add EVOO or a nub of butter.) Add fennel and leek, sprinkle with salt, and saute for about 5 minutes. Veggies should be starting to turn golden brown. Add orzo and toast for a couple minutes, or until evenly browned. 

Deglaze the pan with wine and cook for some moments, until absorbed. Add broth in half cup increments, stirring fairly frequently. Wait until each dose is mostly absorbed before adding the next half cupful. Don’t let the pan get too dry. Taste around 2 cups of broth to see if orzo is cooked, if not, keep adding broth until it’s al dente. This process should take 10-15 minutes. 

Remove from heat. Add salt and pepper to your liking, and lemon juice and zest. Place chicken and/or eggplant on top. Sprinkle with chopped fennel fronds and parsley. Serve with lemon wedges. 

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great leftovers!

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Cheesy Bulgur Risotto with Broccoli and Tomatoes

CheesyBrocBulgurRisotto-3Home is colors and clutter, memories and fantasies. A place to be proud of, to share, to embrace.

Well-read books and paged-through magazines and background music and postcards and leftovers and clean laundry and dirty laundry and scarves and beer and nail polish and lost pennies.

This is home. Not a specific bed, or room, or apartment, or neighborhood.

A feeling, a net, a hug, a soup, a warm shower.

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Changing all that isn’t easy. You can’t just plop a whole van’s worth of boxes and drawers into a different set of walls and expect it to transform.

This time I felt like the luckiest person in the world–moving into a place I already felt quite homey in, with a loving and fantastic person who had already prepared for this transition by buying extra storage boxes, reorganizing furniture, and, thankfully, not even asking me if I wanted to drive the van.

And here we are, a few days later, boxes still scattered and corners still cluttered but I look around while drinking a glass of wine from my vantage point on the couch and see the flowery potholders my mom bought me years ago hanging above the stove, and the elephant hooks I acquired in Nepal already overflowing with scarves, and our reordered dressers so they both fit snugly against the same wall, and I know I’m home.

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And seriously what better way to celebrate that than a reimagining of a homey meal I had growing up: broccoli and cheesy rice casserole. I’m not the biggest fan of broccoli, but cheddar always makes it shine, and the fractal (romanesco) version at least provides visual excitement. I’m having a bulgur wheat moment, as it has recently appeared as a nutty-and-crunchy sub for rice in this risotto, and as a hearty wholesome addition to a salad with apple, radish, quick pickled red onions, cilantro, and poppy seeds. I wonder if in 20 years “risotto” will sound to my children like “casserole” sounds to my generation, but for now it’s a pretty good excuse to combine grains, cheese, and veggies into a quick and delicious one-pot dinner.

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Guys I know these pictures are a bit subpar but a) make this because it’s seriously delicious and b) it’s the last time you’ll see this bowl in a post since it lived at the old apartment

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apple, radish, pickled red onion, bulgur salad. recipe from plenty more!

 

 

Cheesy Bulgur Risotto with Broccoli and Tomatoes

created by me!

1 T olive oil
1 onion, chopped small
1 large (or 2 small) garlic cloves, minced
1-2 scallions, minced (white and light green parts only)
1 spicy green chile pepper, some seeds removed, chopped small (I used 1/2 a long hot but 1 jalapeno would work too)
1 cup coarse bulgur
1 cup vegetable broth
2 cups water, divided
1 large broccoli, cut into florets (I used some romanesco) (and took a lot of pictures of it)
1 tomato, roughly chopped
½ cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
small handful coarsely chopped parsley
s&p to taste

In a medium-to-large pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion, scallion, garlic, and spicy pepper. Heat until soft, translucent, and smelling good, about 8 minutes.

Lower heat to medium and add bulgur. Toast, stirring constantly, about 1 minute. Then, add broth, 1 cup water, and big pinch of salt. Turn heat to high until it boils, then cover and turn heat to low.

Simmer for 10 min. At this point, most of the liquid should be absorbed. Add 1 more cup water (or broth) and broccoli florets. Cover again. 5 minutes later, broccoli should have started turning bright green. Add your chopped tomato and all its juices. If necessary, add more water at this point too. Cover, but leave lid open a crack.

Risotto should be done about 5 minutes later–the tomatoes will be disintegrated, the bulgur chewy, the brocolli cooked through but still crunchy. Add cheddar, parsley, and s&p and serve immediately.

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boxes boxes boxes