This recipe is great because it doesn’t try to be a summer salad–it has robust winter flavors of bacon, cranberry, and apple with a dash of maple. I served a massive bowl of it for my son’s birthday party and when it almost all went along with everything else, I knew it was a hit! I bought a 4-pack of wide-mouth mason jars at the supermarket and use them all the time to shake up my dressings.
I would like to let you in on a culinary secret…risotto is not hard to make, I promise! I first dabbled in risotto-making when a recipe for a saffron risotto (similar to this recipe) appeared in Ina Garten’s cookbook: Barefoot Contessa Family Style. I knew her recipe would be easy-to-follow and accurate, and it was! So here is my version of that creamy, smoky and slightly sweet risotto. The tricks to making perfect risotto are as follows: buy arborio rice and accept no substitute; heat up your stock and have it ready for you to ladle into the pan; keep your risotto at a slight simmer, not a rumbling boil; and taste the risotto before serving. The rice should be creamy but still with a little texture. It should not be stuck in your teeth–if it is, add more stock (or even hot water, you can always season it) and cook it longer. You do not have to obsessively stir, but you want to stay close by to adjust the heat as necessary. Here we go! Pay it forward after you make this and tell your friends how surprisingly easy it is.
This soup is like therapy. Both preparing it and eating it will make you feel better about what ails you. I decided to try this recipe after seeing Ina (we’re on a first-name basis now, me and Ina Garten) prepare this on her show, Barefoot Contessa, and she included it in her latest cookbook, Foolproof. I changed just a few things (for example, I use regular bacon instead of more expensive pancetta, and I chopped up fresh basil and tossed in a parmesan rind instead of using store-bought pesto), and the results spoke for themselves. My family finished the pot and requested I make it again! You will think I am making this up, but my 4-year-old ate his whole bowl and my almost 2-year-old (gasp–he is getting big too fast) got seconds! We paired it with my husband Mike’s homemade sourdough bread and some crisp Pinot Grigio. Magic.
P.S. Mike and I go to see Ina this week at her book signing, I can’t wait!
This recipe really made my weekend when I made it for my husband’s family. Just a few months ago, my sister-in-law had just given birth to her second adorable son and we all gathered at my in-law’s place for a casual Mother’s Day potluck and to chat about the newest member of the family. I knew that the kids might pass on this dish since it is still salad after all, but the adult reaction far exceeded anything I expected! I got three requests for the recipe, so here you go! This dish is easiest made in the summertime, when you can get your hands on ripe cherry or grape tomatoes, fresh green beans and sweet cucumbers. You may see the prep time and think that’s too long to make a salad, but it’s really a whole meal in your most giant bowl!