08 January 2015

Grilled salmon, mixed pepper risotto warm a frigid night

The outside temperature was 3 degrees and the wind chill was –14 as I started working on dinner this past week. But a little cold weather doesn’t stop me from firing up the Weber grill. Grilled salmon is our familiar favorite and we have it almost weekly.

I use a charcoal grill. It takes a little extra prep time to get the coals burning. But my wife and I think the flavor of the charcoal is worth the trouble.IMG_1011

For the salmon, I lightly sprinkle it with no-salt lemon pepper. It’s actually not an easy product to find. You can find lemon pepper at most supermarkets. But if you want no-salt added … that’s not so easy. I usually buy it in bulk at the Linden Hills Co-op. After the coals are hot, I arrange them toward the outside of the Weber kettle so that the fish roasts with indirect heat. Then I simply lay the seasoned fish on the grate, skin-side down. Then I put the cover on the grill and let it cook for about 20 minutes, a little longer if it’s a bigger piece or if the coals don’t seem as hot as usual.

I often serve risotto with our grilled salmon. I have a few standby recipes that I make, but for this dinner, I decided to use up a few leftover items cluttering the fridge. For New Year’s Eve, I’d bought some mini peppers, and I had several extra. So I mince one of each – red, yellow, and orange and then added some minced green pepper. I also had about a tablespoon of grated lemon peel and a small piece of leftover feta cheese. After consulting a few recipes online, I devised this recipe.

Mixed Pepper Risotto with Artichoke Hearts

  • 1/2 c. minced onions
  • 1 c. minced bell peppers, a mixture of various colors
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 c. arborio rice
  • 3 1/2 c. broth (chicken or vegetable)
  • 1/2 c. white wine
  • 1 c. canned artichoke hearts, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 c. (about 2 oz.) crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 tbsp. grated lemon peel
  • 3 or more tbsp. minced herbs (I used basil and chives), to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Sauté onions and peppers in olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat, until onions are soft. Stir in rice and toast for about a minute, until the rice is shiny and translucent. Reduce heat slightly and add wine; stir constantly until the wine is evaporated. Add broth, 1/2 c. at a time, stirring often; cook until the rice has absorbed each addition of broth before adding another 1/2 c. After you’ve used about 3 c. of broth, taste a grain of rice. It should be al dente, not mushy. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the artichoke hearts and continue to stir in broth until the rice is cooked to your desired consistency.

Remove the rice from heat. Stir in the feta and herbs. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Notes: For the broth, I had a half cup of homemade turkey broth in the fridge. I used that plus 3 cups of instant vegetarian chicken broth (another product I buy at Linden Hills Co-op). If you use a commercial stock, you may not need to add any salt, especially since the feta is salty as well. If you don’t have feta in the fridge, you can use grated parmesan cheese instead. For the herbs, I always prefer fresh herbs. But a tablespoon of dried oregano would add the the Greek character of this dish.

Standing over a stove stirring risotto is a wonderful way to warm up on a cold winter night. Besides the salmon and risotto, my wife made a simple green salad. Very nice.

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