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Asparagus Risotto and Summer Ratatouille with Grilled Chicken (step by step pics)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Who says low-cal needs to be low-flavor?

At the behest of one of my blog followers, I have decided to post step-by-step photos. This meal took me only 30 min to cook (including prep and chopping), but it could take longer if you are measuring things instead of winging it.

1 package risotto mix
1 bunch (more or less) asparagus
2-3 tbsp dried porcini mushrooms (optional)
2 tbsp parmesan-type cheese (optional)

1-2 clove garlic
1/4-1/3 cup chopped onion
1 tbsp olive oil
1 can diced tomato
2-3 cups fresh veggies (I used cabbage, red pepper, zucchini, mushrooms and leeks)
handful fresh herbs, chopped (I used basil, oregano (whole sprigs), and rosemary)
1/4 dash sea salt
1/2 dash black pepper
1/4 cup water or broth or stock

grilled protein of your choice (or cooked lentils to make it vegetarian!)

It started with the asparagus. A bunch of it. Hold the asparagus on both sides with either hand, and break it like a bundle of sticks. Save the part with the florets... toss the stem part below the break-line. I also chopped up some dried porcini mushrooms (try them.. they do not taste or feel like those gooey, slimey, icky things you get in a can, and they add a nutty-woodsy, sweet, and meaty flavor).

When I make risotto, I totally cheat and use this amazing brand's pre-packaged goodies:

It comes with everything you really need (rice and seasonings), but add-ins make it better, especially 1/8 - 1/4 cup parmesan or other grated cheese, and veggies of course.

Start by sauteeing the rice in 1/2 tbsp butter or olive oil in a thick sauce pan until it starts to turn golden like this:

Then, following the directions on the package, add 2 cups water and 1/2 cup milk. Mix in the seasoning, asparagus (chopped to about 1 inch stalks), and chopped mushrooms. I also add about 2 tbsp grated parmesano reggiano cheese for extra flavor. Bring it to a boil, then reduce heat to low and let simmer about 20 min uncovered.

While that is simmering, start your ratatouille. Add about 1 tbsp olive oil in a thick-walled pan or wok and heat to medium. Add about 1/3 cup chopped onion, and sweat until translucent. Add 1-2 cloves chopped garlic, stir and let cook 1 min longer.

Now you can get sort of creative.... start adding whichever vegetables you prefer, making sure to add the ones with longer cooking times first (I did shredded cabbage and bell pepper first, followed by fresh portabello mushrooms and zucchini, and finally chopped leeks). These I cooked for about 5 min total. After that, add your diced tomatoes (I cheated and used canned):

Next, add about 1/4 - 1/3 cup broth, stock, or warm water with a dissolved bouillon cube and turn up the heat to med-high.


When it starts to bubble, turn down the heat and simmer until 1/2 of the liquid evaporates. Add the herbs. I used chopped basil, rosemary, and oregano sprigs.

Now stir, and continue to simmer until most of the liquid has cooked away (and add a splash of white wine if you're super fancy). If the veggies don't get soft enough for your taste, you can always add a bit of water and cook longer.

By now the risotto is probably ready... take it off the heat and set aside. It should look like this:

While your ratatouille finishes up, grill up some of your favorite protein. I used chicken breasts, but you could easily (tastily) substitute salmon or tuna filets here.

(added a little salt and pepper)

(I don't have a grill outside, so I use this little cast iron beauty)

When the ratatouille is done, salt and pepper if desired, remove from heat and discard oregano sprigs.

Plate. Eat. Enjoy.

Calories: 423 (w/ chicken cooked with non-stick coconut oil spray)
Carbs: 50g
Fat: 10g
Saturated Fat: 2g
Protein: 35g
Dietary Fiber: 5g
Sodium: 804mg
Potassium: 1195mg

My serving size was 1/4 the risotto, about 1/3 the ratatouille, and 1/2 of a chicken breast (my bf got that big one in the grill pic, lol)

Thanks for reading!
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