Fresco Carpaccio

So, traditionally, a carpaccio is an appetizer made of thinly sliced meat.  I decided to take the technique and make my own summer version of that.  The sharp tang of lemon, the fresh fruit, and the crunch of toasted pistachios on top are an amazing combination.  This Fresco Carpaccio is great as an appetizer for any dinner or party you are hosting, or just follow what I did and make a plate for yourself, and enjoy it in the sun!
I really didn’t want to stop eating it!  Hubby and I finished it within minutes and this has become another of our favorite summer recipe.
The best part, this is so healthy for you with not too many calories or fat, there’s no cooking involved, and it takes 10 minutes to make (I’m not counting how long you have to wait for it to marinate).

I highly recommend marinating this as the flavor of the dressing will be sharper and will help breakdown the raw taste of the zucchini since you are not cooking it.

I used a mandolin for this but if you don’t have one, no worries.  Use a potato peeler and make thin ribbons of the zucchini and cucumbers.

What fruits and veggies will you use?  Share your pictures!

From my kitchen to yours, enjoy this carpaccio as much as we did!

1 zucchini
1 cucumber
1 avocado
1 lemon, zested and juiced
¼ c Avocado Oil
2 Tbsp pistachios
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

1.  In a large bowl, mix together lemon zest and lemon juice.  Whisk to mix well.
2.  Add in oil and whisk 2-3 minutes until oil and lemon juice have emulsified.
3.  Add in salt and pepper and whisk one last time to mix.  Set aside.
4.  Trim the ends of the zucchini and cucumber.  Using slicer or peeler, make very thin ribbons.
5.  Add zucchini and cucumber ribbons to dressing and toss to coat each ribbon equally.
6.  Cover bowl and marinate in fridge for 30 minutes.
7.  Meanwhile, on a med flame, heat up a small skillet.  Add in the pistachios and toast 3-5 minutes until they are nice and crunchy.
8.  Give the toasted pistachios a rough chop and set aside.
9.  Pull zucchini and cucumber out of fridge.
10.  Thinly slice avocado.
11.  In a plate, line up each fruit with one slightly on top of the previous one.  If you have any dressing left, drizzle a little on top.  Garnish with toasted pistachios.


Brown Butter Toasted Tortellini Yum

I’m a pasta lover and and am so proud to say so are my girls.  I can get them to eat almost anything as long as I pair it with pasta.  The only caveat, they keep changing what type of sauce they want.  First, I couldn’t get them to eat anything but marinara sauce, then they moved on to pesto, and now they are stuck on brown butter. Continue reading “Brown Butter Toasted Tortellini Yum

Butternut Squash and Thyme Risotto Yum

One of my favorite Italian dishes is risotto.  It’s so creamy, decadent, and delicious.  I started experimenting with the basics of making risotto about 9 months ago.
When I first started making it, I was a little intimidated.  To be honest, I had to work up my nerve to attempt it for quite a while as I had heard stories about how hard it is to make risotto.  One day, I decided to just go for it.  If nothing else, I have frozen pizza to serve the family.  (Yep, I always have frozen pizza on hand …. though, currently I stock this amazing cauliflower crust pizza with veggies on top.  Ummm, anyways, story for another time.)
I must have looked through a dozen recipes to see which didn’t intimidate me and seemed the easiest.  In hindsight, they are all easy.  You see, I think people get overwhelmed with the idea that you have to babysit this dish.  You literally do.  It’s not a quick and easy weeknight dinner but it is an amazing labor of love.  From start to finish, I would say cooking this specific dish (we’re including the time to roast the squash), I spent about an hour in front of the stove.  About 80% of that is stirring the risotto so it doesn’t stick, 10% was prep work and 10% was zoning out the kids while they screamed their latest rock concert with Frozen lyrics.
The secret to a perfect risotto, you have to stir the broth in one ladle at a time.  Yep, a bit tedious, but this is definitely one of those times where patience brings very delectable rewards.
During my extensive research to find an “easy” recipe for risotto, I also looked into why I couldn’t just add the broth all at once.  One reason that I found for adding the broth slowly is that by doing so, the rice releases the starch slowly and therefore, giving the dish its creamy texture.  Adding the broth all at once, covering it and leaving it to cook can ruin your risotto in two different ways.  One, the water will sit at the bottom from lack of stirring the risotto and can burn the dish from the bottom.  Second, instead of giving the risotto its creamy texture, dumping the broth all at once can make break the rice and make it mushy rather than keeping the rice kernels whole but cooked and creamy.

I know this seems like a lot but really, it’s just reinforcing the fact that you need to add your broth slowly and you will have an amazing risotto.
The only other tip I want to add is to constantly check for salt.  I used veggie bouillon combined with water for my broth in this recipe.  You can use a low sodium broth also.  The bouillons tend to have a higher sodium content so don’t add salt until you’ve tasted it.  The parmesan cheese also brings a lot of salt content with it.  The last thing you want to end up with a salty risotto you can barely eat (trust me, I’ve done this too.  Speaking from unfortunate experience).  Keep tasting as you go.
Fun fact, arborio rice looks very similar to idli rice.  In fact, I picked it up and almost used it before I realized there was a slight difference.  The idli rice is a little plumper than arborio.  Of course, I did more research and found that idli rice can be used as a substitute for arborio because of its a medium grain.  When you compare the two side by side, they look very similar.

From my kitchen to yours, Enjoy!

1½ c butternut squash, cubed
1 ½ c arborio rice
1 med onion, diced finely
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp thyme, roughly chopped
6 c veggie broth
1 c Parmesan cheese
¾ tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
2 Tbsp Oil (Avo or EVOO)

Preheat oven to 400ºF.  Toss squash with 1 Tbsp oil, salt and pepper.  Spread out on a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes.
In a large pot, heat veggie broth until it comes to a boil, then lower the heat to low and cover.
Meanwhile, In a deep and wide pan, heat oil and add onions.  Cook for 7-8 minutes until they are cooked through and translucent.
Add in the garlic and cook for 1 minute on med-low flame.  Add in the risotto and 2 Tbsp thyme and cook for 8-10 minutes until the rice is toasted and has a light golden red color to it.
Add in 1 ladle of broth and wait for it to burn off while you keep stirring the risotto.  As it burns off.  Keep adding the broth 1 ladle at a time until you use up all of the broth.  As the risotto cooks with the broth, you’ll notice it getting plumper and creamier.  When all of the broth is used up, and cooked into the risotto, the texture should be thick and creamy.  Turn off the heat and mix in ¾ c Parmesan and mix well.
Add in the butternut squash and remaining thyme and mix.
Serve hot into bowl and garnish with some of the remaining Parmesan cheese.