Today I gave my baby boy his first cooking lesson. The syllabus for today included a simple, yet seemingly complex dish – sweet potato risotto. I explained the steps to him as I cooked, and then we tasted it together. I liked it, but he hasn’t given his feedback yet. I think he’ll ultimately decide he liked it too.
Before you ask, no I have not gone completely crazy. Supposedly this week is about the point in my pregnancy where my son can actually hear noises, including my voice. It’s encouraged to start talking to the baby about now. And since he can’t talk back, it’s hard for me to come up with interesting topics. Hence, the cooking lesson.
Sweet potato risotto is not something you see every day, and may even seem like an odd combination – isn’t it too much starch?? No, my dear, it is not. It is a delightful contrast of flavors and textures. The sweet potato also happens to be an extremely nutritious root vegetable, loaded with vitamins A and C, as well as fiber. It comes in a rainbow of colors, any of which would work here. When cooked this way, it gets tender and delicious. Paired with the slight bite of the arborio rice, the crunch of celery, and the fresh grassy finish of parsley, it’s really a beautiful family of ingredients. And with fall right around the corner, it seems the perfect time to start bringing those quintessential fall flavors into the kitchen.
So here it is, my first collaborative effort in the kitchen with my son. There are going to be many more over the years to come. I warned him.
Sweet Potato Risotto (serves 2-3)
- 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 shallot or small onion, diced
- salt and pepper
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 2 small sweet potatoes (any color), peeled and diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- 1/2 cup arborio rice
- 2 tbsp dry white wine
- pinch of dried thyme
- 2 tbsp grated parmesan
- chopped flat-leaf parsley for garnish
1. Put the broth in a small pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce right down to the lowest heat just to keep warm, and keep it on the backburner. (Literally and/or figuratively).
2. Put the olive oil and butter in a large heavy saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook until the butter melts completely and is just starting to sizzle. Add the shallot or onion, along with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-5 minutes, or until tender.
3. Add the celery, sweet potatoes, garlic, and arborio rice to the pan. Stir everything together and cook just for about a minute to lightly toast the rice. Add the wine and stir, letting the alcohol bubble out and the liquid absorb, about 2 minutes.
4. Begin to add the warm broth a ladle or two at a time. After each addition, stir until the broth is almost completely absorbed into the rice and veggies, a couple of minutes per addition. Continue this until most, if not all of the broth has been added, and taste the risotto to see if the rice is getting tender. You may not need all of the broth (but I used it all). This process takes about 20-25 minutes. In the end the risotto should appear slightly creamy, the rice should be enlarged and tender but with a slight bite.
5. Stir in the parmesan, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve garnished with the parsley.