Friday, November 03, 2006

What a Roman Eats on a Diet

There's a dieter in my house. After a month of living on a movie set (eating every day at an amazing seafood restaurant on the bay run by a man named Pasquale, who offered Ale whatever he wanted to eat in the hopes of getting his restaurant into a scene in the movie, a tactic which eventually worked), and then going on holiday for nearly 2 weeks, my other 1/2 came back feeling like my other 3/4. Just a few kilos to lose, but it's serious this time. My Wedding Channel planner anxiously announced at my last log in: 144 days to go!! That means, 144 days until permanent photos record our day for all of posterity. That's motivation enough for anyone.

So, Ale has decided to burn off those few extra kilos and he's the chef in our house, meaning I'm sort of on a diet too. Not that I mind. Because dieting Roman-style isn't so bad.

Like most Italians I know, Ale doesn't use recipes when he cooks, or measuring cups and spoons for that matter. He just eyeballs the ingredients, uses his creativity, and adds salt to taste.

Rome temperatures right now? Big-time BRRR. And everyone keeps posting pictures of pumpkins on their blogs. While I'm not as brave as Ms. Adventures in Italy, buying an entire monster squash to then craft it singlehandedly into culinary perfection, I do have a tactic. I buy things, stick them in the refrigerator, and wait for Ale to invent something wonderful. Which is why I bought the package of pre-cut pumpkin the other day and stuck it in the fridge, waiting patiently. Then, last night:

Pumpkin risotto! My pictures aren't stunning; I don't have a super camera like some of you fancy-shmancys out there (I'm not jealous, no...), but I did my best. I wish my blog had scratch and sniff because the aroma of this cooking is just heavenly.

Here's the finished product:

It was as delicious, as always. The only trade-off in having a chef in the house is this:

An artist can't be constrained by the limits of cleanliness. Therefore, on a regular basis I face the utter destruction of our tiny kitchen. Finny's hubby can vouch for this, as he has my role in their house being that she's the master chef (even though Bubba can cook up some mean BBQ), and after his cleaning debacle, I think that's the last time he's ever letting this Roman loose in his kitchen.

And of course, just to make sure we don't forget who's really in charge around here:

Now, I promise, this won't hurt a bit. Takes about 20 minutes and even I can make it, which is a guarantee of something easy yet delicious. Getting exact amounts for this was like pulling teeth...I kept getting, "No lo so, vado a occhio..." (I don't know, I just look at how much to put in...") So all the ingredient amounts are approximate; do as the Roman does and guesstimate. Happy dieting!

Pumpkin Risotto
Makes 2 servings

200g or 1/2 lb. of pumpkin, cut into chunks
1/2 cup milk
1 tbs. onion, cut into small pieces
1-2 tbs. olive oil
1 cup carnaroli rice
1 cup white wine
Small saucepan of broth (about 3-4 cups?)

Blend the pumpkin and milk in a blender or food processor until creamy. Heat broth in a sauce pan. In a large pot, heat olive oil and add the onion, sautè briefly, then add the rice and stir for about 30 seconds. Add the white wine and continue to stir for about 1 minute or until the wine is absorbed.

Once wine is absorbed, add the pumpkin mixture and a ladle of broth. Stir continously, adding broth as it evaporates. Continue this for about 20 minutes or until rice is cooked "al dente" or firm to the bite. It's important to stir continously so the rice doesn't stick.

Serve immediately, adding grated parmesan and a bit of olive oil to each serving. Buon appetito!


angela said...

On the trail with NaBloPoMo.
My family's not real keen on pumpkins so i don't cook them. I think, however, that the risotto looks beautiful.
Had a friend from Rome who used to make us champagne risotto. Such decadence!

Stelle In Italia said...

yay! pumpkin risotto sounds like a wonderful way to diet! if that's how you do it, i'm goin on a diet too! :) (and by the way--your pictures are fine!)

Anonymous said...

ma stiamo parlando proprio di mio fratello!!?? ..incredibile...!e dire che ne abbiamo passato di tempo sotto lo stesso tetto ma di manicaretti pochi.....a pensarci bene però ho un chiaro ricordo di come lasciava la cucina al termine delle sue creazioni culinarie! :-/
quand'è ke mi invitate a cena?
:-)) non per pulire eh!

avery said...

Yum! pumpkin risotto is so good. It's true...Italians never use measuring cups or follow recipes...they just let their flair for creativity take over. I didn't realize the big day was so close. Congrats!
by the way....I'm always left to take care of the kitchen/cleaning duties after Toni (read: professional chef) cooks. Not a pretty sight.

Gracie said...

If I can give you my advice, for this kind of risotto, better to use the "Roma" rice.

Shelley - At Home in Rome said...

Angela: Thanks for the drive-by! I've never tried champagne risotto but it's always sounded so intriguing.

Stelle: Thanks for the reassurance on the pics! Some I see online are so incredible, mine just can't compare.

Anon: Sì. E' cena, quando vuoi!

Averina: Toni is a professional chef? Wow!! I'm crashing dinner at your place.

Gracie: Thanks for the tip. Ale is so picky about the rice and always insists on that kind, but I'm sure everyone has their favorites. I don't know the difference, I just eat it!

Anonymous said...

I am so in love with your technique for new dishes. Buy something bizarre at the grocery store and stick it in the fridge? Genius! Although, the aftermath is frightening. I think Bubba is still a little gunshy after Ale's cooking extravaganza in our kitchen. Although, you didn't hear him complaining while we ate the leftovers all week. That green sauce went on everything.

Sassy said...

Just wanted to let you know I'm enjoying the blog. Went to Rome for my first visit in September and fell in love with the place. Reading your missives always brings a smile, and lots of good memories.


Expat Traveler said...

now that soup looks great! love your last pic with the kitty! Please email me if you can or leave your email in the comments portion of the ID, no need to comment...

I'd love to chat with you. =)

Ms Adventures in Italy said...

Ooo, wedding coming up? In Trastevere, too? My girlfriend that lives there got married in 2005 in Santa Maria in Trastevere :) Good luck with the NaBloPoMo, I actually think it's harder to post everyday than write some crap dialogue in Nanowrimo (at least that's how mine is coming out) :)

African Kelli said...

I have to make this! YUM!!

triplecreme said...

Beautiful risotto! I wish I could lose weight by eating a bowl of risotto!