How to Build….Risotto

Risotto is easy if you follow the basic formula. Read the formula all the way through before starting to cook — when you add the vegetables depends on which you choose, and you have to heat your broth at the beginning of the process.

1) the onion: all risotto starts with onion. You can use a shallot or onion. Melt 1 T of butter and 1 T of olive oil in a dutch oven and add chopped onion and cook until softened.

2) the rice: Arborio. No choice there. Add 1 c rice to the onion and cook for a minute, stirring to coat.

3) the liquid: white wine and broth of your choice. Add about 1/2 c. of white wine and cook for about 2 minutes. Heat 4 c. broth so it’s warm when you add. Set timer for 35 minutes. Over the course of the 35 minutes, add warm broth 1-2 ladlefuls at a time, stirring frequently.

4) the vegetables: use any vegetables you want. When you add the veggies depends on which you choose. If I’m using asparagus or peas, I add them near the very end because they need minimal cooking. Mushrooms or butternut squash might be added at the beginning, after sauteeing the onions. Alternatively, you could cook the vegetables separately and add them at the end.

5) the extras: After the 35 minutes, add 1/4 c. Parmesan or a similar (e.g. asiago) cheese, 1 T. of butter, fresh herbs (e.g. thyme or parsley), salt and pepper.

Recap of ingredients (for your shopping list):
olive oil
onion or shallot
1 c. Arborio rice
1/2 c. white wine
4 c. broth
vegetable of your choice
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
fresh herbs (optional)
salt and pepper



Vegetarian Chili


This is a simple chili recipe. Feel free to make substitutions — regular chili powder for the chipotle (but use a little more of it), add other vegetables such as red peppers or corn, or different types of beans.

olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1 1/2 t. cumin
1 t. chipotle chili powder
1 t. oregano
salt and pepper
2-3 zucchini
tomato paste (about 1/2 can, or a couple large squirts if you use a tube)
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 can black beans
1 can kidney beans
2 c. water
cheese for serving (optional)

1) Chop the onion and garlic. Add a little olive oil to a hot pan (I use my beloved dutch oven) and cook the onion and garlic until softened.

2) Add the cumin, chili powder, oregano, salt and pepper and cook for about a minute.

3) Add the zucchini and tomato paste and cook for a few minutes.

4) Drain and rinse the beans. Add the beans, diced tomatoes, and water.

5) Bring to boil, lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

6) Top with shredded cheese (sharp cheddar or pepper-jack would be good) if desired.

Greek Salad with Garbanzo Beans


Summer is over, but I’m still making salads. Sometimes you just don’t want to cook.

I’ve made Greek salads many times before, but only as a side dish. I discovered that the simple addition of garbanzo beans makes it hearty enough for a main dish. Add some pita chips and you’ve got a great, simple meal.


  • lemon
  • olive oil
  • dried oregano
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 can garbanzo beans
  • 1 container cherry tomatoes
  • 4 small, Persian cucumbers
  • 1 shallot
  • Greek olives
  • feta cheese


1) In a large salad bowl, add sliced cucumbers (I cut them lengthwise, then put them on their flat side and slice), cherry tomatoes (halved), garbanzo beans (rinsed and drained), olives (I usually cut them in half), shallot (thinly sliced), and feta.

2) In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine juice of one lemon, oregano, salt, and pepper (sometimes I add lemon pepper, to gild the lily).  Add some olive oil and whisk.  How much olive oil?  Start with a little, whisk, taste, add a little more, and when it tastes right, stop.

3) Add dressing to salad and toss.


Vegetable Paella

IMG_1834  As promised, here’s my favorite recipe from my Ottolenghi experimentation.  In fact, this may be my favorite dish of all time at the moment.  Vegetarian paella??  Traditionally, paella includes sausage, chicken, and seafood.  Vegetarian and paella seem mutually exclusive.  Except it works.  This paella is so delicious, and pretty easy.

Vegetable Paella, adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty


  • olive oil
  • 1/2 onion
  • 2 red and/or yellow bell peppers
  • 1 fennel bulb (the original recipe calls for 1/2 fennel bulb, but what is the Good Enough Gourmet going to do with the other half of a fennel bulb? I put the whole bulb in.)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 t. smoked paprika
  • 1/2 t. turmeric
  • 1/4 t. cayenne pepper
  • 1 c. short grain rice (I used Arborio)
  • 6 1/2 T. sherry (hey, I didn’t make these proportions up)
  • 1 t. saffron (a must – see my note below)
  • salt
  • 2 c. vegetable or chicken stock
  • frozen peas (1-2 handfuls)
  • about 15 grape tomatoes, cut in half, OR 1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • about 5 canned or jarred artichoke hearts
  • 15 kalamata olives (really, counting is not necessary; I’m just the messenger)
  • 2 T. parsley


Before I get into the instructions, a word about saffron.  I have not had good luck with saffron.  Recipes tend to say that a pinch is all that’s needed.  When I use a pinch or two, I can never taste it.  I’ve tried crumbling it, letting it steep in hot water, but I still can’t really taste it.  This recipe calls for 1 t. saffron, which is a lot more than a pinch.  Do it.  Don’t skimp on the saffron.  Saffron is what makes paella delicious.  Buy a small jar of saffron at Trader Joe’s for about 5 bucks.  You’ll end up using most of the jar just for this recipe, but think of how much money you’re saving on the meat and the seafood you’re not buying,

1) Mise en place.  Prep your ingredients so this dish can go quickly.  Chop your onion, press your garlic, cut your peppers into strips and cut the strips in half, slice your fennel into strips.  Measure your spices and put them in a prep bowl.  Measure out your sherry.

2) In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and add the onion and garlic.  Saute until the onion softens, then add the peppers and fennel.  Cook for about 5 minutes, until all the vegetables soften.

3) Add the bay leaves, paprika, turmeric, and cayenne.  Add the rice and stir.  Add the sherry and saffron and boil for a minute.

4) The original recipe calls for boiling the stock in a separate pan before adding it.  The Good Enough Gourmet was suspicious of this, since it seems like a possibly unnecessary step and adds a pan (no longer a one-pot meal!).  I tried it both ways – adding boiling stock and adding cold stock.  Unfortunately, I think the rice cooked better when I used the boiling stock, although it did work when I added the cold stock.  (I would probably increase the cooking time a little.)  Whatever method you choose, add the stock now, and 1/3 t. salt.

5) Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 20 minutes.  Do not cover the pan, do not stir the rice.

6) While the rice is cooking, cut your artichokes into pieces, slice your olives in half, and if using grape tomatoes, cut them in half.  I used grape tomatoes one time and canned tomatoes (undrained) another time — both are delicious.  The canned tomatoes make the paella a little saucier. (The picture above and below are with the grape tomatoes.)

7) After 20 minutes, add the artichokes, olives, tomatoes, and frozen peas (no need to defrost) to the pan.  Scatter them over the rice and stir a little but not too much.  Remove pan from heat, cover, and let sit for 10 minutes.  (I actually leave the pan on the burner, but turn the burner off, so the pan stays warm.)

8) Chop the parsley, and after 10 minutes add the parsley and stir everything together.  Enjoy.

IMG_1836For good measure, below is a picture of the paella my brother-in-law made for us just after returning from Spain.  This is proper paella, made with meat and fish, in a real paella pan.