Linguine with Fresh Spinach, Red Pepper, and Lemon

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I love going to the grocery store; I do it several times a week, if only for a few things. I know, I know, it is poor planning on my part, but I enjoy weaving through the aisles, checking out new and interesting ingredients I may have missed during my previous visit. I recall going to the grocery store with my dad when I was small. He would take a list with everything we needed but inevitably, we’d return home with something he wanted. I remember riding in the cart or walking alongside my dad down every aisle in the grocery store. He’d take his time, selecting a bottle of this, or a jar of that, turning it over in his hands, considering its use, before returning it to the shelf or placing it in our cart. Mom never really knew what he’d bring home. Sometimes it was a jar of pickled herring, sometimes it was a new mustard, and sometimes it was a package of cookies he’d open on the drive home for the two of us to sample.

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Green Soup

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If you’re anything like me, you tend to overindulge during the holiday season – we’re not even to New Year’s, yet – and then regret it later.  I know that after rich, decadent meals and equally sinful desserts, all I want is a Big Salad, à la Elaine Benes.  My body craves vegetables, leafy greens, and no meat whatsoever.  Let me introduce to you the Green Soup.

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Hands-Off Risotto

Lately I’ve been craving risotto, but honestly, the dish is laborious and finicky, really.  It needs constant attention, sincere compliments, and gentle coaxing in order for it to behave the way I want.  It needs exact heat, warm stock added at just the right time, and if a person so much as blinks at the wrong time, the whole dish is ruined!  Sometimes I just want to walk away from the endless stirring and let the dish bubble away on the stove.

Risotto purists might gasp at what I’m about to say, but walk away is exactly what I did when I made this dish the other night.  It was lovely.  And dead easy.  Did I mention how hearty it was, as well?  This recipe is loaded with spicy chorizo and Italian sausage, tomatoes, and fresh spinach.  It made the house smell lovely and I really didn’t have to do much to make it happen.  Perfect.

Tomato, Sausage, and Spinach Risotto
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients:

1 can (28 ounces) whole roma tomatoes in juice, hand crushed
2 cups homemade chicken stock (boxed will work, but I prefer homemade)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound hot italian sausage
1/4 pound chorizo
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine (ex: Sauvignon Blanc)
1 bunch flat-leaf spinach, washed, dried, stems removed, chopped (about 6 cups)
1/2 cup grated pecorino romano cheese, plus more for serving
2 tablespoons butter

Method:

In a small saucepan, combine tomatoes (with juice), 2 cups chicken stock, and 1 cup water.  Bring just to a simmer; keep warm over low heat.

In a Dutch oven (or medium saucepan), heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add sausages and onion; season with salt and pepper.  Cook, breaking up sausage with spoon, until sausage is opaque and onion has softened, 3-5 minutes.

Add rice; cook, stirring until well coated, 1-2 minutes.  Add white wine; cook, stirring until absorbed, about 1 minute.

Add about 2 cups of the tomato mixture to rice; simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until absorbed, 4-5 minutes.  Continue adding the tomato mixture, 1 cup at a time, waiting for it to be absorbed before adding more.  Stir occasionally, until rice is creamy and just tender, about 25 minutes total.

Remove pan from heat.  Carefully fold in spinach, pecorino, and butter; season with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately with a little pecorino on top, if desired.

I didn’t use all my liquid – and I tasted along the way.  You want the rice to be tender, but not mushy.  Really, when “occasionally” is mentioned, abide by it.  As long as you have a nice, gentle bubble, and you stir it every now and again, you’ll end up with a lovely risotto.