Sunday, March 16, 2014

Baked Parmesan Risotto with Bacon, Peas and Cauliflower

Guys, I've missed you.

I am sorry to have been MIA for the month of February and now most of March. Work and exams required my full attention, but that attention has paid off. And now, just like that, I am back and ready to test out some fun new recipes with you.

You can probably tell from the quality that I snapped these photos really quickly before Cory and I sat down for Valentine's Day dinner (I know, I know. I made this on FEBRUARY 14th and I'm only NOW sharing it with you--awful!) Anyway, trust me when I tell you that despite the boring pictures, this risotto dish is so yummy!

This Baked Parmesan Risotto with Bacon, Peas, and Cauliflower is creamy and dreamy and so flavorful. It has all the delicious qualities of a traditional risotto without the task of stirring it constantly for 40 minutes. I love the combination of peas and bacon -- it's like this risotto is a nod to Pasta Carbonara! Roasted cauliflower adds a depth of flavor, while fresh leeks and crisp white wine cut a bit of that parmesan richness.

If you've been dying to make a risotto at home but aren't ready to tackle the constant stirring process, give this recipe a try. It is totally simple and foolproof, yet it is still elegant enough to serve to your special someone or a bunch of friends for a dinner party. All you need is an oven-proof pot, such as a dutch oven, and you are ready to roll.

Here's what you need for Baked Parmesan Risotto with Bacon, Peas, and Cauliflower* (Print Recipe!)

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 medium leek, cleaned well and thinly sliced (use the white and light green parts only)
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
5 cups chicken stock, simmering gently on the stove
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup dry white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup frozen peas
4 slices bacon, cooked until crispy then diced
Salt and pepper to taste

Here's what you do

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the cauliflower on a baking sheet and toss it in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside. Lower oven heat to 350 degrees.

Place a dutch oven or other oven proof pot on the stove top over medium heat. Add the olive oil. Saute the leeks in the olive oil until just golden and slightly tender. Add the rice and toast for about 30 seconds. Add 4 cups of the chicken stock, then cover the pot and place it in the oven. Bake for 45 or until most of the liquid has been absorbed by the rice.

Remove from the oven then add the remaining cup of stock, the cheese, wine, butter, and a bit of salt and pepper. Stir vigorously until the liquid is absorbed, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the cauliflower, peas, and crispy bacon (reserving a few pieces of bacon for garnish). Stir until the peas are heated through. Serve immediately.

*Adapted from Ina Garten

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