Sausage and tomato “risotto”, and chunky mixed salad with feta

This is a quick supper I made over the weekend, but didn’t get posted earlier.

I really, really like one-pot rice dishes with meat and/or beans and veggies worked in, so you’ll probably be seeing more along those lines here. 🙂 It’s fairly quick and easy and very filling–and you can at least plausibly pretend that it’s balanced. That basic combo is one of my fallback “don’t really feel like cooking” meals. Lately, I’ve been trying to hold back on the rice to some extent, but sometimes I can’t resist.

The “risotto” is in quotes because I just haven’t gotten the hang of the classic open-pan, gradually adding liquid risotto cooking method. The texture just turns out odd, in a way that’s more gluey than creamy; I suspect that stirring it too much, out of fear of sticking and burning, doesn’t help at all. Plus, I was tired on a Friday evening, and didn’t feel like messing with it. So, I’ll call it “risotto”. It was really tasty, anyway.

This one is actually based on a ground meat and veggie, long-grain rice “risotto” my mom turned out more than occasionally with an ever-changing assortment of vegetables when I was growing up, from an actually rather good mid-’70s cookbook that’s since been lost in a house fire.  I can see the cookbook in my head, but don’t remember the title, or I’d be tempted to track down another copy! Its approach to international fare was, erm, very ’70s, but the results were usually good if rarely anywhere in the neighborhood of authentic.

Bowl of risotto

Sausage and tomato “risotto”

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb. (400-500g) sausage — I used the Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Sicilian mentioned elsewhere
  • Large onion, chopped
  • Stalk of celery, chopped
  • Half a sweet red pepper, chopped (I like fairly big pieces)
  • 2 carrots, shredded — I used the mandoline again, but a grater works fine
  • Bay leaf
  • 3 cloves garlic, halved and sliced

Heat the oil on medium in the ever-useful deep skillet with a tight-fitting lid. Squeeze the sausage out of the casings in lumps, into the pan. Add the vegetables other than garlic and the bay leaf. Fry it until the onions and meat start browning, then throw in the garlic and bay leaf for a couple more minutes’ cooking. Chop up the sausage some as you go, if needed; mine was half-frozen going in, so it came out in pretty huge chunks!

  • 1-1.5 c. (250-350mL) medium-grain rice (I had half a British pint–10 fl. oz.–of paella rice left in a bag, so that was an easy choice 🙂 ) — if you can get it readily, medium-grain Mexican rice is great for this (and cheap!)
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp. coarsely ground pepper
  • 1/4-1/2  tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 14 oz. (400g) can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1/4 c. (50mL) red wine
  • Enough chicken broth to make 2-3 c. (500-750mL) of total liquid, depending on the amount of rice
  • Salt to taste, depending on how salty your broth is
  • 2 tsp. Herbes de Provence or Italian seasoning
  • Optional: 2 or 3 zucchini/courgettes and/or yellow squash, cut into bite-sized cubes, or about a cup (250mL) if frozen peas — we didn’t have either, but it’s a nice addition
  • Grated Parmegiano or Romano to put on top

Throw the rice in with the frying meat and veggies, and sauté it for a few minutes. (Since I was using paella or risotto rice, I didn’t rinse it as usual; the extra starch is not a drawback here.) When that’s almost done, throw in the seasonings. In the meantime, drain as much juice as you can off the tomatoes into a measuring cup. (A can works a lot better for this than the Tetra Pak we had, since you can use the lid as a plunger instead of messing around with a spoon!) Pour the wine into the same measuring cup; it doesn’t have to be precise. Add enough chicken broth to make up twice the volume of liquid as the amount of rice you’re using.

Carefully pour the liquid into the pan–it will spatter at first, hitting the hot rice–and add the drained tomatoes. If you’re using the squash or peas, put it in the top of the pan; it’ll steam nicely as the rice cooks. Bring it to a boil, then cover the pan and reduce the heat to simmer for a few minutes more than you normally would for rice.  The acid in the tomato makes the rice cook more slowly. (Here, I added 5 minutes and let it cook for 25; back home, at higher elevation, I’d let it go for probably 45.) If it still looks very wet when the time is up, put the lid back on and cook it for another 5 or 10 minutes. As you can tell from the photo, it should be a little moist and not very fluffy.

When it’s done, remove the lid and let it steam out for 15 minutes with a dish towel or other cloth on top of the pan. Fluff and distribute the ingredients with a fork, and you’re ready to eat. You could mix some Parmegiano or Romano into the rice, but everybody here likes different amounts, so we usually just add it by the serving.

Chunky mixed salad with feta

Chunky mixed salad with feta

The taste and texture contrast is nice anyway, but since this batch of rice didn’t have much in the way of vegetables, adding some kind of salad was an extra-good idea. 😉 This was definitely another “what veggies do we have?” dish. I hadn’t tried putting daikon in this kind of salad before, but it worked well. The dressing and other flavors even perked up the pretty sad-looking winter tomatoes.

  • Half an English cucumber
  • Half a daikon/mooli radish
  • Half an onion
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 smallish tomatoes (Mr. Sweden picked up a big bag in the reduced section!)
  • About 100g (close enough to 4 oz.) feta, cubed
  • About 1/3 c. vinaigrette (we had that much Zesty Italian from a mix left in the fridge)
  • Some pepper, dried oregano, and parsley to make things a little more interesting

Again, this looks more complicated than it is. Peel and chop all the veggies, and put everything but the tomatoes together in a bowl. Salt them and stir them around to distribute it well, then let them sit for 20 minutes or half an hour; I put this together while the sausage and veggies for the rice were frying. Drain them in a colander or sieve, and gently squeeze more liquid out. Put them back in the bowl, and add everything else. Adjust seasoning to taste, and let it sit for another 20 minutes or half an hour in the fridge if possible.

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