PINE NUT PESTO RISOTTO

PINE NUT PESTO RISOTTO

Pine nuts blended with fresh basil, garlic, coconut milk, extra virgin olive and a little Grade A maple syrup. Combined with long grain golden rice, steamed zucchini sticks and fresh ripe tomatoes. Elegant!

Makes 11 cups

Make pesto first:

13.5 oz. can coconut milk (I used Goya brand)

2 c. firmly packed fresh basil leaves, finely chopped

4 fresh garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

1 c. pine (pignoli) nuts

zest and juice of 1 lg. lemon; zest lemon first, then cut and squeeze for juice

3 T. extra virgin olive oil

2 T. Grade A maple syrup

1/4 t. red cayenne pepper

1 t. salt

Place coconut milk, basil, garlic and pine nuts in blender container. Pulse several times, then blend till pesto turns a light green color throughout, about 2 minutes. Using a long spatula, scrape bottom of blender container where pine nuts might clump up.

Add remaining pesto ingredients. Blend again till smooth. Salt to taste and let set till ready to use.

Make rice:

4 c. water

2 t. salt

3 c. golden long grain parboiled rice (I used Canilla brand)

2 T. extra virgin olive oil

In extra-large saucepan combine water and salt. Bring to boil, add rice and stir. Return to boil, stir again, cover tightly, reduce heat to low and cook exactly 20 minutes. Remove from heat and fluff with fork to aerate.

Add extra virgin olive oil to the rice. Stir till all grains are coated. Set aside.

Steam Zucchini:

2 fresh zucchini, about 7 inches long and 1-1/2 inches in diameter; cut ends off, cut crosswise into 3 sections each, then stand each segment on its end; cut from top to bottom into 1/4 inch thick slabs; stack slabs and cut from end to end into 1/4 inch wide sticks.

Bring water to boil in your steamer apparatus. Place zucchini in steamer, cover and steam till pliable, not mushy (note: this only takes a minute or two, so don’t leave the stove). Remove zucchini from steamer and set aside.

1 extra lg. ripe slicing tomato, cored and cut into 1/2 inch cubes

In extra-large skillet, over medium heat, place rice and steamed zucchini. Toss.

Pour all of pesto into skillet. Stir to evenly coat all grains, then cook, covered, for about 5 minutes or till hot throughout.

Salt to taste, then add tomatoes. Stir to evenly distribute, and cook, uncovered, another 5 minutes.

Serve at once. If desired, sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper and sliced fresh basil as garnish.

Notes: Salting rice is important. If you don’t salt sufficiently, the entire dish will taste bland. Rice dishes cool quickly, so you need to create a flavor and texture, that will be great at room temperature. This rice dish fits those requirements.

Once you add the pesto and tomatoes to the rice, don’t overcook. You want the tomatoes to heat through, but still retain most of their shape, in order to give this dish a fresh taste.

I served this dish with a red wine: Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend. Good match.

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