It's the end of the month.
We're getting desperate.
We're getting desperate.
We've eaten everything that's a ready-made meal. We've eaten everything we can from the fridge, minus one small and lonely head of broccoli, some leftover bits of cheeses, and a single grapefruit that has become soft and supple and been in there far too long. We've started digging into the drawers, the lazy susan and the freezer to find anything we can that's edible...that will make some kind of meal with the myriad of strange ingredients from my 'foraging' that we have remaining. We haven't quite reached sheer desperation yet, but even the Nature's Variety Prarie is starting to look more appetizing (unfortunately, we already gave the dogs all the biscuits)...If you've noticed that I haven't been posting many recipes, you're right - I'm broke! The food we've been eating hasn't exactly been fancy, nor blog-worthy.
Such is the life of a graduate student...getting paid your meager salary once a month, and living paycheck-to-paycheck hoping that no unexpected expenses come up so that you'll actually make it through to the end of the month. Someday we'll have real jobs like the rest of the world! This month we weren't quite so lucky - we ran out of money weeks ago to do any 'major' grocery shopping and have only been picking up a thing or two as is absolutely necessary. We're used to doing this once every in a while, but we've had expenses the last two months that wiped us out early; and we've completely decimated the kitchen goods I once kept in full stock so that I could make most recipes with only a trip to the store for perishables (now, those were the days!)
So, last night, we went through everything...I went methodically through the cupboards and drug out everything I could imagine might go together...broccoli, the last green in our fridge...parmesan cheese bits, leftover from other recipes since I've been a bit wary of the grater lately...a few pine nuts...
Well, this would have to do. I knew I had a little arborio rice in the cupboard that our old roommate had left when she moved in January. I had an open box of chicken broth in the bottom of the fridge (one of the few items I had stocked up on the last shopping trip)...how about a broccoli, parmesan, and pine nut risotto?
Sounded good to us! I got out the rice, the cheese, the pine nuts and broccoli, then grabbed a bottle of white wine I keep for cooking from the fridge, and chopped up our last onion and two cloves of garlic.
Unfortunately, when I picked up the chicken broth box, it had only a half a cup in the bottom of it.
With a sigh, I opened up the lazy susan, hoping beyond hope that I might have a hidden can of broth in there or two...
And there, before me, like a light shining out from the recesses of the dark, was a second box of broth! Hallelujah! I warmed it up, and started making a risotto that turned out to actually be mighty tasty. After our first bite...it was even deemed blog-worthy. So here it is...the dregs from our pantry, put together so that if you might find yourself in a situation similar to our own, you might not starve to death, you might even make a delicious meal...
Spicy Parmesan, Broccoli and Pine Nut Risotto, from our kitchen to yours
2 tbsp. butter, divided
1 small head of broccoli, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
~ 2 tsp. tarragon (I used dried; use fresh if you've got it)
~ 1 tsp. dried red pepper flakes
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup of white wine
1 box of chicken broth or stock (I'm not sure how much is in one of these)
~ 2 tbsp. pine nuts, toasted
~ 3/4 cup finely grated parmesan
salt and pepper to taste
Heat 1 tbsp. of butter and a drizzle of olive oil in a medium saute pan until melted. Add onions and to the pan and cook for a few minutes. Add the broccoli and saute until just tender and onions become translucent but not browned. Add the garlic, tarragon and red pepper flakes and cook for about 30 seconds. Heat the chicken broth or stock to a simmer in a separate saucepan. While this is warming, add the rice, and cook for about 3 minutes, or until you can see a small white dot in the center, and the kernals are covered with oil. Add the wine and cook until it evaporates, then begin to add the broth or stock one cup at a time, while stirring. Make sure that the broth is completely absorbed before adding the next cup. After about 20 minutes, or when the rice is still slightly chewy, but not hard, and you reach the end of your broth or stock (NOTE: I ended up adding an additional cup of water to get the texture I wanted, but my arborio was part brown and part white; so I think the brown takes a little longer). Remove from heat and fold in the remaining 1 tbsp. of butter. Then stir in parmesan and pine nuts and season with salt and pepper. Garnish, if you've got it!
Now...just three more days to go...