Sushi Bowl

Sushi bowl

While I consider myself an adventurous eater — I’ll try just about anything once — I do not posses that same sense of adventure when it comes to cooking in my own kitchen. More often than not I find myself drawn to “safe” recipes and ingredients; chilis, pesto, pasta, a whole chicken roasted to perfection in my slow cooker. So these simple, sushi-inspired rice bowls made for an exotic weeknight dinner at our house.

While sushi is not exactly exotic by any stretch of the imagination (in Toronto you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting an all-you-can-eat sushi joint or three), these are simply not flavours I’ve ever been drawn to when cooking. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the Asian flavour profile, quite the opposite — but if I’m honest, it probably has more to do with fear. I’m comfortable with pasta and cheese and chicken, so that’s what I find myself cooking time and again.

I bought Super Natural Cooking on a whim. Desperate to find some new kitchen inspiration, I decided to pick-up the Tartine Bread cookbook, thinking I could be inspired by bread. If I wasn’t inspired by the staff of life, I was done for. On my way to the cash I spotted Super Natural Cooking out of the corner of my eye, and when I picked it up the pages fell open to the Sushi Bowl recipe. As it turned out, nori and brown rice vinegar turned out to be just the inspiration I needed. I’ve made this meal way more times than I’ve made bread so far (it’s about 3-0, to date).

These bowls make for a simple, light weeknight dinner and are equally delicious cold from the office fridge the next day. While slicing the avocado and tofu as I have here made for a beautiful photograph, I’ve found that bite-sized chunks are actually easier to eat and enjoy.

Sushi Bowl
Adapted from Super Natural Cooking
Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 cups short-grain brown rice
3 1/2 cups water
2 teaspoons salt (I prefer fine-grain sea salt)
6 ounces extra-firm tofu
zest and juice of one orange
zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce (I like tamari)
2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
4 green onions, sliced
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced or diced as you like it
3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
Toasted nori, chopped or crumbled, to taste.

Method:

1. Rinse rice until water runs clear. Combine rice, water and salt in a pot and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer gently under water is absorbed, about 45 minutes.

2. While the rice cooks, toast a sheet of nori in a pre-heated 300F oven. Chop with a sharp knife or crumble between your fingers. Set aside.

3. Drain tofu and pat dry. Cut the block to make four 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick sheets. Cook in a dry skillet over medium-high heat until it starts to pick-up some colour, about 4 minutes. Flip, then cook for another 2 minutes until golden. Let cool, then cut into matchsticks or chunks. Set aside.

4. To make the dressing, combine juice and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a gentle boil. Cook for 1 or 2 minutes, then add the soy sauce and vinegar. Return to a gentle boil and cook another 1 or 2 minutes, until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the zests.

5. When the rice is done, stir in dressing. Serve in individual bowls, topped with nori, green onions, tofu, avocado and sesame seeds.

Tomato and Sausage Risotto

Tomato and Sausage Risotto

Wouldn’t you know that making a risotto is the perfect way to have a good think. Add a little liquid, stare off into space, stir, think about what’s on your mind, stir, add a little more liquid and repeat. I’ve found myself with a lot on my mind lately, mostly about work — good, exciting, keeping-me-on-my-toes-things — and earlier this week I got to sort a lot of that out while I stared off into space, stirring my risotto.

You may recall my original hesitation to make a risotto. Now that I’ve gotten over the fear that I will be slaving over a stove for seven hours I find it comforting. Comforting to make and comforting to enjoy — even reheated the next day, over my computer at my desk because all of these keeping-me-on-my-toes-things are also keeping me from the lunch room.

When this little beauty showed up in my RSS feed a couple of days ago I slated it into our menu plans ASAP. Something about the spinach and the tomatoes made it feel summery and fresh. Yet as soon as our apartment was filled with the sounds and aromas of a sizzling, hot Italian sausage on the stove, I knew we’ll enjoy this many times throughout the cooler months.

Now, the original recipe called for two tablespoons of butter to be stirred in at the end. While, much to my mother’s horror, I believe very much in butter, she did leave enough of an impression on me to know that two tablespoons of butter stirred into a risotto just after half a cup of Parmesan has just been stirred into that very same risotto is a little bit outrageous. At least for a Monday night. So I only put about one tablespoon in, give or take as I eye-balled it.  I will let you use your own butter judgment.


Tomato and Sausage Risotto

Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Dinner Tonight Blog
Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, in juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 pound sweet or hot Italian sausage, casings removed
1 small onion, finely chopped
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups baby spinach
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
1 tablespoons butter

Method:

1. In a small saucepan, combine tomatoes (with their juice) and 3 cups water. Bring just to a simmer and keep warm over low heat on the element.

2. In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add sausage and onion and season with salt and pepper. Cook, breaking up sausage with a spoon, until sausage is opaque and onion has softened, 3 to 5 minutes.

3. Add rice; cook, stirring until well coated, 1 to 2 minutes. Add wine; cook, stirring until absorbed, about 1 minute.

4. Add about 2 cups hot tomato mixture to rice; simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until absorbed, 4 to 5 minutes. Continue adding tomato mixture, 1 cup at a time, waiting for one cup to be absorbed before adding the next, stirring occasionally, until rice is creamy and just tender, about 25 minutes total (you may not have to use all the liquid).

5. Remove pan from heat. Stir in spinach, Parmesan, and butter; season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with additional Parmesan and serve immediately.