Friday, September 18, 2009

Broken Spaghetti Risotto

Instead of just posting the ingredients of my dinner tonight, I thought I'd take you through the process and show you how to make Broken Spaghetti Risotto since it's kind of a multi-layer meal.

So first, let me tell you about this dish. This is a recipe from Rachel Ray and she makes this with a lot more ingredients than I do. I like to keep it kind of simple and eat things along the side. Her variation has mushrooms, arugula and hazelnuts. I don't have that kind of time. Sometimes I add different vegetables and often I add chicken right to the dish, but tonight I didn't have any meat defrosted so Matt bought a steak for us to eat (more on that later).

Also I feel like I should sort of explain my eating habits. I count calories. I try to eat by the thought process 1/2 plate veggies, 1/4 protein, 1/4 carbs. Sometimes this doesn't happen and I end up at 1/3 for each portion. Other times, like tonight, I end up at 1/2 carbs, 1/4 protein and 1/4 veggies. I typically have one meal a day that is heavy on veggies and the other is light. Also - I almost never eat dessert after dinner as I'm not really a sweets eater, so typically my meals are a little on the large side. Also I mostly eat chicken and turkey, but I do still eat pork and beef occasionally because I get way tired of chicken. I almost always eat ham on my sandwiches. Variety is the spice of life people and a little pork or beef won't kill you!

Some nights I measure everything I use. Other nights, I don't and I just estimate. I'm pretty good now at knowing measurements just by looking. Tonight I didn't measure, therefore I have no measurements for you!

Risotto is actually a method of cooking instead of the type of rice. A lot of people don't realize this. Risotto is the process of cooking a carb (rice) in liquid so that the carb soaks up the liquid and releases starch. You repeat this process and add a small amount of liquid, wait for the carb to absorb, then add a little more. As the carb releases starch, the starch becomes creamy and thus the dish becomes creamy and gooey without adding any type of milk, cheese or cream. This is just my interpretation of risotto, so by all means if I said something wrong - feel free to correct me. Rachel Ray does this with spaghetti and it's awesome!

Here is what you need for this dish (the variation I made tonight, feel free to switch it up and add whatever you want. You are just learning the method, not the actual recipe).
  • Chicken stock (I use unsalted, use what you want)
  • Water
  • EVOO
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Whole wheat spaghetti
  • Peas
  • Parmesan cheese
1. To start, pour some chicken stock and water together (heavier on the stock) into a stock pot and heat. You want this to stay warm the entire time (not boiling though) as you will pour this into your pasta mixture.

2. Next add EVOO to a skillet and heat. Once heated, add chopped onion and garlic and let this sweat out a bit.

3. Now add spaghetti. I take spaghetti and break into three pieces. You want to add and stir around until spaghetti starts to get brown.

4. Now, most people (including Rachel Ray) would add a few shots of white wine to deglaze the pan. I didn't have any wine open and I didn't want to open some and risk drinking it tonight, so I skipped this step. Do as you wish. Instead of adding wine, I just added a small amount of the stock combination to deglaze the pan and waited for it all to evaporate.

 See all the steam? That's the first shot of liquid.

5. Now you are just going to add some of your hot liquid to the pan and stir and wait for it all to be absorbed and then repeat as many times as necessary until your pasta seems soft enough for you.

Pan full of liquid

Time to add more liquid

Pasta almost done. Can you see the difference?

6. After the pasta is soft enough and absorbs most of the liquid I add my veggies, chicken, what have you. Tonight I added frozen peas. I put a little more liquid over the peas and just let this dish cook a little longer until the peas were warm.

Can you see the difference in the pasta now?

7. I added a little parmesan cheese while the dish was still on the stove. Then after I plated, I added a little more to the top. You can do what you want - the cheese when you add it over heat will sort of stick together and make the dish a little hard to mix and stir. This is why I only add a little while it's over heat.

So there is the dish! In addition, Matt broiled a flank steak. Here is the beginning:

This had BBQ sauce, worchestire sauce, onions, a sprinkling of parmesan cheese (random?) and various spices.

And now the final product:

And here is my final plate. I made some garlic toast to go along side. I had about 1/4 the steak (6 ounces), 1/3 the pasta and one piece of toast.




garlic toast

Sorry,  I know the shadows are epic. Oh well.

And here are the two cooks for the night :) (along with a clever oven mitt boob grab, thanks to Matt)


  1. KEEP the food pictures coming!!!! Your broken spaghetti looks way better than mine.

    Also, very slick of Matt to throw in an oven mitt boob grab. Might as well have some fun in the kitchen! ;)