Do you ever get inspired to make a tasty-sounding recipe, then realize you have no freaking idea what half the ingredients are? Or realize that it’s way too time-intensive to actually make when you get home at 8pm on a weeknight and really just want food, now, in a bowl, to shovel into your mouth? Well, this happens to me frequently (read: almost every night). Often, I’ll settle for an enlarged snack that most likely will involve a large amount of peanut butter and some random vegetable that’s lying around the kitchen.
But then sometimes I get inspired by a recipe that actually looks reasonable. Perhaps I only don’t know what the name of one ingredient means. And the other stuff just happens to be already here, with no need to make a grocery trip. This was one of those nights.
I happen to like oatmeal a lot, so when I saw a recipe that involved oats – for dinner – I got pretty excited. Apparently my dad made this and it was fantastic, so I decided to make a poor-man’s version to test it out. Turns out it’s (1) super easy and (2) way too tasty to leave for leftovers. Did I follow the directions exactly? No. Was it still good? Yes.
Oat Risotto with Leeks, Peas, and Pecorino
Heat 4-5 cups (chicken/vegetable) stock (2 cans) in a small saucepan over low heat.
Chop one leek finely, after washing thoroughly and removing the less-than-tender green ends. Meanwhile, in a large pot, melt a couple tablespoons of butter until bubbling. Add chopped leeks, and cook over medium heat about 5 minutes.
Add 1 pressed or finely chopped garlic clove, and mix into the leeks. Cook for another couple minutes, still stirring. Add about a cup of cream (or white wine – though I like my wine too much to ever not drink it) and stir, cooking until the liquid is mainly evaporated. Add 1.5 cups old-fashioned oats (oh hey, it’s what I had for breakfast!) and toast with the leeks and garlic for about a minute.
Add a cup of the simmering stock to the oats and leek mixture, and continue to cook over medium heat while stirring. Allow the stock to be absorbed by the oats, and keep stirring, adding more stock by the cupful and repeating the process. Keep stirring. No really, don’t stop stirring. Add until the chicken stock is all in, and continue cooking the oats until tender. It might take fifteen-twenty minutes, but hey, at least you’re getting an arm workout!
When liquid is all absorbed and oats are tender, add some (3-5?) finely-chopped green onions and about a cup of peas (frozen? why yes I did). Stir into the oat risotto, along with a fair amount of shredded pecorino (only got parmesan? go for it). Throw some salt in with some freshly ground black pepper to taste. Still stirring? Good.
When vegetables are warmed in the risotto, remove from heat and serve in bowls, topped with some more cheese and a tiny bit of olive oil. Gorge yourself.
* I don’t know who thought this would serve four people. Maybe four… miniature people. I’d say it serves 2 people with medium appetites – or for me, about 1 dinner and 1 snack.
Adapted from Sean Brock for the Wall Street Journal’s recipe, “Oat Risotto with Peas, Ramps, & Pecorino.” But I had no idea what ramps were and truffle oil is way out of my price range…