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Charred Eggplant Risotto


There’s plenty of ways to incorporate smoky flavor into your dishes, and it’s a great option for summer, when the grill reigns supreme. This creamy risotto, combined with flavor-packed Baba Ghanoush, is a sophisticated but uncomplicated meal your guests will love.


Ingredients:
For the Baba Ghanoush

  • 1 large eggplant (1 to 1¼ pounds)
  • ¼ cup tahini (roasted sesame paste)
  • ¾ teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • ¼ teaspoon ground chile powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup packed fresh Italian parsley or cilantro leaves

For the Risotto

  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup finely grated yellow onion, with juices
  • ½ cup Carnaroli or Arborio rice
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ cup dry unoaked white wine
  • 1 large red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded, and sliced
  • 2 cups packed arugula, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Instructions:

  1. Make the Baba Ghanoush: prick the eggplant all over with a fork. Place over a gas burner, over a fire in a charcoal or gas grill, or under the broiler and char the skin evenly, turning the eggplant as needed.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375°F (or continue to use the grill). Place the charred eggplant on a rimmed sheet pan and roast in the oven (or using indirect heat on the grill) until completely soft and slightly shriveled, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool to the touch, then split the eggplant lengthwise and scrape out the pulp.
  3. Transfer the pulp to a food processor, add the tahini, coarse salt, lemon juice, garlic, chile powder, oil, and parsley, and process until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and taste for seasoning. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to allow the flavors to develop. Bring 1 cup baba ghanoush to room temperature for the risotto and save the remaining Baba Ghanoush for another use. It will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  4. Make and serve the risotto: In a large saucepan, heat the stock just until it reaches a simmer, then keep it warm. In a second large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the rice and fine salt and lightly toast the grains, stirring every 30 seconds or so, for 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring constantly, until the wine has been fully absorbed. Add 1 cup of the warm stock and cook, stirring constantly, until nearly all the liquid has been absorbed. Continue to add the stock, 1/2 cup at a time, cooking and stirring the rice until nearly all the liquid has been absorbed before pouring in the next addition, until the stock is used up, about 20 minutes. At this point, the rice grains should be tender but still intact.
  5. Add the 1 cup Baba Ghanoush, the bell pepper, arugula, pecorino, and lemon juice to the risotto and stir to combine and heat through. Taste for seasoning and add more fine salt if desired. Spoon into individual serving bowls and serve immediately.

 


Reprinted from Silver Oak Cookbook: Life in a Cabernet Kitchen – Seasonal Recipes from California’s Celebrated Winery by arrangement with Rizzoli, New York. Copyright © 2016, Dominic Orsini.

Give this Mediterranean dish a try, and share photos of your meal on Facebook and Instagram with the hashtag #ALMbites.

For more flavorful summer recipe ideas, visit americanlifestylemag.com/recipes.