Risotto Milanese

Our first meal in Milan was this delicious, beautiful rice dish. While it is technically a first course or served with Osso Bucco, my husband and I devoured a huge serving of Risotto Milanese and declared ourselves happy. I will confess to eating this dish a, um, few more times over the next week.

And, of course, making it the moment we got home. Risotto is a perfect gluten-free dish — elegant and delicious.

Risotto has a reputation for being challenging and time-consuming. This is only sort of true. Yes, you need to keep on eye on the pan while the rice is absorbing liquid, but this generally happens in about thirty to forty minutes. Constant stirring is important, but you can also find time to do other tasks, including drinking a glass of wine!

Chicken with Preserved Lemons and Green Olives

There are, by my count, a zillion ways to make this dish, but all are essentially braised chicken with preserved lemons and green olives…and a fantastic sauce to be soaked up by gluten-free pasta or rice. Modify the flavors as your mood strikes, adjusting spices to evoke dishes from Morocco to Spain.

Risotto with Peas, Ricotta, and Lemon

Once upon a time, I was scared of weeknight risotto. Everyone said it required too much time, too much stirring, too much attention. The latter, alas, is true. As is the stirring part. But you can whip out an excellent risotto in under 45 minutes.

This recipe reminds me of Spring.  The peas — fresh or frozen — add a lovely flavor. And the lemon adds freshness. Plus, if you can think of a better way to use up leftover ricotta, I am eager to hear your secret recipes!

Final note: I love me some bacon (or, prosciutto), but just omit it for a vegetarian option. Or serve the crumbled salty pork on the side. Also, substitute vegetable stock for chicken stock for a truly vegetarian meal.

Traditional Lasagna

I’m not a huge tomato sauce person, but lasagna is one of my weaknesses. How could I resist? Gooey cheese, layers of meat and noodles, that sauce pulling the whole thing together. And because I couldn’t find gluten-free lasagna noodles ahead of time, I bought 12 boxes from Amazon. That’s a whole lotta lasagna.

The way I figure it, I have enough noodles to last me several years!*

It takes about five minutes of Internet research to discover that everyone has a favorite lasagna recipe, ranging from quick to laborious. Or, there is no wrong way to make a lasagna. Take what works for you and don’t worry too much about doing it “right” — as long as it’s tasty, you’re good.

This recipe involves making your own Bolognese sauce, so it will take some time (think of a terrific sauce simmering on the stove all afternoon, that’s what we’re doing here). Letting the sauce simmer develops a rich flavor — one I find hard to replicate with store-bought sauces (which, of course, I use when time is working against me).

As you will see in the notes, you can skip steps 1 − 6 if you are pressed for time.

* — Okay, truth: those noodles will be gone in no time since I’m testing different lasagna styles.

Chicken with Sour Cream Sauce

Yeah, I know. Another chicken and sauce recipe. What can I say? I love dressing up plain chicken to make it special. Particularly chicken breasts. Of course, this recipe can be made with any type of boneless, skinless cut of chicken. Which is great because the grocery stores of the world have just realized that customers adore chicken thighs!

40 Clove Garlic Chicken

Garlic is one of my favorite foods. I know it gets a bad rap from some quarters (who are those people?), but it adds great flavor to just about any dish. Including this delightful chicken stew. As the dish cooks, the garlic mellows, growing soft and buttery…perfect for spreading on breads or crackers or just eating whole.

So don’t let the amount of garlic worry you. Instead, enjoy the scent as the chicken roasts in the pan.

Lentil Soup

When I get obsessed with a food, I get really obsessed. Like I’ll eat a particular food every day until my friends stage an intervention. I think the first time this happened was the summer I was nine. Ever wonder how many tiny tuna sandwiches a girl can make from a long, skinny loaf of French bread?

I know the answer. To say more is to tell you too much about me.

Luckily, I outgrew that obsession before it was taken away from me.

So, other foods that have inspired this level of devotion in me? Chopped salad. Oh, a good chopped salad is like heaven. This may be where I determined salads should be good or not offered at all.

And lentil soup. I think I was 28 or so when I first had lentil soup. I was wary, coming from a household where vegetables were regarded with suspicion. Of course, I was also trying to be totally cool with the fact that I tried a) hummus (OMG!) and b) lentil soup in the same meal.

Nothing was ever the same.

Making lentil soup is absurdly simple. In fact, to the best of my knowledge, there is only one rule, and that is the addition of acid right before serving. Lemon juice or vinegar turns lentil soup into something one obsesses over. Don’t be shy, taste and taste, adjust.

Trust me. After all, I ate lentil soup every day for, oh man, a month!

[box type=”note” style=”rounded” border=”full”]This soup can be made vegetarian by using vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.[/box]

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