Do you have picky eaters in your family?
I do. I always have. Mainly it is with a child of mine or guests we have invited over to eat with us because my husband is pretty terrific to eat MOST ANYTHING that I make. But even the BEST eaters have a few things they can’t stand. For me, it is anything pungent like: blue cheese/Roquefort, Sauerkraut, strong flavored meats (liver), sour fruits/candies, etc. For my husband, it is pretty much bland or acidic foods, foods I tend to enjoy.
Sadly, rice is one of them.
He really didn’t mind rice that much while we lived in the United States, but we probably ate it max of once a week. In Costa Rica, and in many countries throughout the world, rice is offered at breakfast, lunch and dinner. So when we moved to Costa Rica, that is EXACTLY what happened to us.
Gallo pinto is served for breakfast,
white rice with beans is served for lunch
and arroz siempre, as the LDS Youth call it, (“always rice” which is a flavored rice with veggies and sometimes meat) for dinner. Especially at large church gatherings.
Rice, rice, rice!!
Another LEAST favorite of Paul’s is tomato sauce and pasta. He gets bored with the flavors and it just doesn’t fill him up. He also has an acidic stomach while living in Costa Rica, so tomatoes aren’t the best for him. But I LOVE ITALIAN food and I enjoy the versatility one can have with cooked tomatoes. Like in risotto. I LOVE risotto and I never thought of it as rice, until I looked at the cooking instructions and realized that it was.
Darn. And I have a box that needs to be eaten but WHO WILL EAT IT WITH ME?
As for one of my pet peeves, I dislike it when I take the effort and time to prepare food for my family and then they complain or make faces while eating it. I get it. That is just a part of life but when the majority REALLY doesn’t like your food, and Dad is at the head of the band wagon (which is rare – unless it is rice or pasta), it really fizzles out my oomph to prepare foods that I enjoy, because my family squawks at them.
Thankfully, I had a TON of zucchini and a brick of ricotta cheese that needed to be eaten. So I googled: zucchini, risotto, ricotta and found this AMAZING recipe!!!!! We also had some leftover pork strips, from our dinner two nights earlier, that only needed to be reheated, so I added them to the pot at the end. It all turned out so tasty and people were asking for seconds, even though it looked like “throw-up,” according to my oldest son. Thanks El Gringo. That made it extra appetizing to me. NOT!
It didn’t hurt that we had company over but I will say, preparing foods that you don’t even know if your own family will like can add A LOT of stress to the cook when you are expected to feed company AND hope that they have a positive experience in your home. I definitely didn’t want them going home thinking that, “Sister Whitchurch is a terrible cook, we definitely don’t ever want to eat there again.” But they didn’t. They asked for seconds, and thirds, and kept commenting on how DELICIOUS the meal was. Even my rice hating husband enjoyed the meal VERY MUCH.
It was a victory and I needed it!!
So, here is the tried and true recipe itself, I hope you enjoy it as much as we all did!!! Oh, I did change the spices a bit, to fit our taste buds, but I put what we used on the side of each ingredient. Feel free to use what they recommend, you might actually like it that way!!!
Recipe: Serves 6-8 as a side. (I doubled the recipe to feed 8 as the main meal with pork strips added to the risotto.)
1 C. risotto
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1/3 C. ricotta cheese
1/4 C. parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp rosemary (1/4 tsp. for our family)
1/8 tsp nutmeg (heaping 1/16 tsp. for our family – Paul didn’t like it too much, said there was an after taste)
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (1/16 tsp. for our family)
3 gloves garlic, minced
4 C. chicken broth
2 medium zucchini, sliced into rounds and then quartered
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil
– Heat oil on a large skillet to medium heat. Add onion and cook until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.
– In a separate pot, bring chicken broth to a simmer. (This is an important step. Yes, you dirty two pots but it is the secret to a great risotto.)
– Then add garlic and let it cook for 1 minute. Add rice to the skillet, once the garlic is cooked. Stir to coat with oil. You may need to add more oil. “Fry” the rice until it is mostly translucent and smells nutty. About 2-5 minutes, careful not to burn it.
– Once the rice is ready, start adding about 1/3 C. of liquid to the rice at a time. Stir continuously until the liquid is mostly absorbed. Continue this process until there is about 1 C. of liquid remaining. Once there is only 1 C. remaining, add the liquid, spices & zucchini to the rice. Cover and turn down to a simmer. Let cook for about 20-30 minutes until rice is completely cooked.
– When the rice is cooked and most of the liquid has been absorbed, add the ricotta and parmesan. Stir to evenly incorporate. Serve warm.