On the rare occasion when I’m alone at home for dinner, I like to make something new or different, and something that I don’t think my wife will like. So that’s what I did in August when my wife went out for dinner with girlfriends.
The pepper plants in my garden have been particularly prolific this year. Two jalapeno plants have produced a lot of nice peppers, and my son gave me five Serrano plants that are absolutely prodigious. My wife doesn’t like hot spicy food. I do. So I set about to make a recipe using jalapenos.
My personal specialty is risotto. I have a favorite recipe for risotto with tomatoes. I decided to adapt it by adding the jalapenos and creating a dish that I envisioned calling “Risotto Diablo,” intending it to be devilishly hot. I planned to eat it with some leftover grilled salmon and carrots.
What I’ve done with most of the jalapenos that I’ve harvested so far this summer is put them whole on the grill. After roasting them until they’re soft, I cut them open, scrape out the seeds, and then eat the roasted peppers with my burger or steak or fish, also grilled. The peppers have tasted particularly fiery. While I wanted my risotto to be hot, I did want it to be edible. So I only used one large green jalapeno.
During preparation, I took several steps to tone down the heat. I’ve been told that the heat in a jalapeno comes from the seeds and internal membranes. So I scraped them out. I’d also been told that milk and dairy products tend to neutralize the heat in a pepper. So I finished the risotto with sour cream (instead of my usual parmesan cheese).
Well, much to my disappointment, I took too many precautions; I probably should have used at least two jalapenos. In fact, the risotto was not fiery; it wasn’t even particularly hot. Truth to tell, it turned out so mild that my wife enjoyed the leftovers with another dinner of grilled salmon later in the week.
Here’s how I prepared the risotto (and here’s a link to the original that I make often – Risotto with Tomatoes & Parmesan.) As I noted above, I served the leftovers with dinner again later in the week. In order to spice it up a little, I took a Serrano pepper, minced it and mixed it into the risotto. It still wasn’t devilishly hot, but this time it had a little more kick to it.
For the tomatoes, I used oven roasted Roma tomatoes. Every summer I buy a basket of very ripe tomatoes, roast them, and then freeze them for future use. If you prefer, you can use whole tomatoes or even canned tomatoes, but if you do, you may not need all of the broth before the rice is done cooking.
When you read the recipe, you’ll note that I used a relatively new product produced by Land O’Lakes called Sauté Express. It’s basically a butter and olive oil mixture seasoned with herbs and spices. For this recipe, I used the Italian Herb. I used to work for Land O’Lakes (now retired) and I had some in the freezer.
3 cups vegetable broth
3 roasted Roma tomatoes (click here for recipe), roughly chopped
1 cube of Land O Lakes Sauté Express (or 2 tbsp. herbed butter)
1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 minced small onion
1 or 2 large green jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
¼ cup fresh garden herbs, minced
1 cup Arborio rice
2 tbsp. sour cream
In a saucepan, bring broth to a boil then reduce to simmer. In a sauté pan, melt the Sauté Express with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Cook onion and minced jalapeno over medium heat until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes, but don’t let them brown. Stir in the rice and cook for one minute until grains are coated and glistening. Add a ladle of broth, stir constantly until liquid is absorbed by the rice. Continue to add liquid about ½ cup at a time, stirring until absorbed after each addition.
When most of the liquid has been added to the rice, add the tomatoes to the rice along with more broth. Risotto is done when the rice is al dente (tender, but firm to the bite.)
Remove rice from heat. Stir in herbs and sour cream. Cover and let stand off the heat for about 2 minutes to allow flavors to blend; the rice will finish cooking. Add salt to taste. Serve.