You got the right stuff, baby.
See, I always knew the New Kids on the Block had it right when talking about my cilantro and sunflower seed pesto. If coupled with a creamy risotto and some perfectly grilled king mushrooms, you have a one-way ticket to flavour town.
Lets do our pesto in advance. You will need:
2 bunches of cilantro
1/4 cup TOASTED sunflower seeds
2 cloves of garlic coarsely chopped
Lemon zest or rind avec juice
Spiciness in the form of sriracha, chilli pepper flakes, chipotle, gossip, etc.
Extra virgen olive oil (let's say 1/4 cup for the sake of measuring)
Parmigiano Reggiano by the handful (or your fav. hard cheese)
Now my dears, one of the most important steps for any pesto is to blanch your greens. This can come in the form of basil, cilantro, radish tops, you get the idea. If you want to preserve your pesto's beautiful and intense green colour throughout hard times, toss the cilantro in boiling water for no more than 10 seconds. Quickly transfer your cilantro to a bowl of some ice water.
Your emerald green cilantro will cool off in no time. Make sure to squeeze the excess moisture and toss in a food processor along with the aforementioned ingredients (besides the olive oil).
Give the ol' processor of food a whirl while you slowly pour in your EVOO (that's Rachel Ray talk for extra virgin olive oil). Adjust seasoning accordingly: salt, spiciness, garlic, acidity, etc. Remember, you are the boss of your own pesto. Set aside.
It is time to play Mulatu Astatke Ethiopiques vol. 4, put your sunglasses on and be COOL.
Let us work on those King Mushrooms. Yes, these woodsy and meaty delights are powerful enough to reconsider your faith. Being the supreme mushrooms they are, there is no need to mess with them.
Cut them in quarters, salt and pepper, throw in some fresh thyme and olive oil.
Haven put on my fancy pants, I decided to grill them electrically. Your fancy pants are unnecessary though, you can also sauté them to your heart's delight on a preheated pan. Obtain a nice browned colour while making sure you don't overdo it. King mushrooms keep their texture quite elegantly but can become very fibrous if you overcook them. Set aside.
Let us start on the risotto. I usually do not tamper with rice meals but I got my hands on some Tenuta Castello Organic Arborio Rice. I also pondered over my leftovers from my last meal (see previous post).
In a nutshell, you can be a risotto King/Queen by abiding the law:
1. Gently sweat shallots and garlic in some olive oil.
2. Add your high-starch rice (I'm looking at you Arborio, Carnaroli, Padano) and stir until translucent.
3. Add a glass of white wine at room temperature. If your wine is cold you will shock the grain allowing it to flake on the outside and stay hard at the core. If you don't have white wine but mixed a mean martini the night before, feel free to sub for dry vermouth.
4. Stir constantly.
5. One ladle at a time pour in stock stirring constantly until hydrated.
This stock can be from chickens, vegetables and/or chickens that like vegetables.
6. Refer to step #4.
Ultimately you are searching for a creamy, unctuous and al dente risotto.
You can loosely guesstimate about 1 cup of stock to hydrate a 1/4 cup of rice. This should account for a healthy individual portion, unless you're in Texas where everything is bigger.
Once you feel your rice has a bit of bite to it, add a lil' ol' dollop of unsalted butter and cover for a few minutes.
Let your risotto hang out and get acquainted with the rest of the gang.
I had some jalapeño/yellow pepper adobo left over along with some acorn squash. I tossed in a healthy ladle of my adobo right before I sensed my rice to become al dente along with my pre-cooked squash. Feel free to omit this last part and still be fortunate enough to try this tasty tasty treat.
My sous-chefs Pancita and Beanie recommend a 2010 Glazebrook Sauvignon Blanc to accompany the meal. Mulatu Astatke will thank you too.
Plate your decadent dish by serving your risotto followed by a healthy serving of your zesty and vibrant pesto. Garnish with an array of grilled king mushrooms and be the king of the night.