Happy #scrumptioussunday! So, this time of year, some people review their "bucket list." This list can be about the events, things, and accomplishments they want to do before they die...or even just in the year previous.
I had a similar list years ago, but it got scrapped for a different type of bucket list: a culinary bucket list. What's that you ask? Well, it's a list of all of the things I want to make, create, share, and eat in my own kitchen. I've proudly had one since age 21. It included things like making croissants; boiling bagels; baking a gorgeous baguette; decorating a Yule log; and, creating roses out of icing. Can you tell I was a baking and pastry culinary student?
But, since I can't live on bread, cakes, and pastries alone, I added quite a few savory dishes as well. The first thing EVER on my culinary list so many years ago was making risotto. Yep, the cheesy, creamy, fancy comfort rice which loves all kinds of ingredients, savory and sweet.
At the time, I'd never eaten risotto before; and, I was fascinated by the method of stirring rice and adding bits of water at a time to release the magical starches. I attribute my desire to learn this Italian delicacy to Chef Giada DeLaurentiis. I began watching her show, "Everyday Italian", and just fell in love with the dishes she made (and let's be honest, she was my first girl crush). In fact, she was the one who lit my culinary fire. Her passion for food and her family traditions got me interested in getting in the kitchen for more than just Teddy Grahams and peanut butter (did anyone else do that after school??)
So, in learning this rice dish, I had many bumps in the road to my trek to risotto nirvana. As long as the rice wasn't scorched, I could just add more Parmesan and all would be ok. But, it wasn't long after those initial blips that I figured out my risotto making process---I had a certain pan, a basic recipe which I could customize to my flavor preferences, and my own special cup to pour broth into the rice. It became an art to me, and cathartic on so many levels. I released my worries as I stirred. I connected with friends over my creations. I enjoyed the entire process.
But, like the story of my waffles, it's been a long time since I made risotto. If I couldn't have Parmesan cheese, well then, I didn't want it. But, as time went by, I missed this dish more and more. And in part of finding my way into the kitchen again to heal from chronic fatigue, I knew it was time to recreate a cheeseless version which would heal my body and nourish my soul.
I used a combo of long grain and short grain brown rice (it's what I had on hand), leftover vegetable broth, and the broth I used to soak my sun dried tomatoes. The next time I'd recreate this dish, I'll use short grain brown rice only. Just for consistency of cooking time.....the two rices take different times to cook!
It was also my first time using sun dried tomatoes and it definitely won't be my last. They had a tomato-y flavor which is unmatched. The combination of these flavors was reminiscent of classic pizza flavors--tomatoes and basil. The cheese here?? Nutritional yeast. I wish you could hear the creamy sounds of all this stirring.