There can be joy and serenity found in immersing yourself in small repetitious tasks that give you a great sense of accomplishment when you are finished but also allow your mind to wander freely during the process. I include ironing, weeding and painting walls in this list (and yes, I am one of those crazy people who will volunteer to help friends paint walls…)
And there are times that I find that serenity standing over a stove…my favourite Zen recipe is risotto. I discovered this many many years ago when I was in my first “real” job after graduating. As a recruiter, I interviewed up to 10 people a day in addition to working with clients – amazing experience and learnings but as an introvert, it often left me wrung out at the end of the day. I would pick up a bottle of white wine on the way home and spend an hour or so just stirring rice – alternating wine in the pan and wine in my glass…by the time I sat down to eat, everything was copacetic!
This has been a nutty week and my introvert recharge gauge was definitely running on low but last night, I found my Zen.
Basic Risotto Recipe (for two)
Saute 1/2 onion in a mixture of butter & olive oil until soft. Add one cup of arborio rice and cook until the rice is gleaming. Then start pouring & stirring: I usually alternate chicken or vegetable broth with white wine, about 1/4 cup at a time, stirring in until absorbed before adding the next round of liquid. The amount of liquid you need will vary – it depends on how much the rice will absorb. This whole process can take about an hour, until the rice is no longer crunchy and your risotto is smooth and creamy.
Fava Bean Cream and Shrimp Risotto
About half way through the stirring process, start adding in fava bean cream* (about two tablespoons at a time) and stir in until absorbed. I used about 1/2 cup of fava bean cream in this dish. Also stir in finely grated Parmesan cheese about 10 minutes before you are finished.
While you are cooking the risotto, saute about 8 large shrimps (cut up into quarters or eighths) in butter in another pan.
When the risotto is finished, stir in the shrimp along with a few squeezes of lemon juice.
Serve with Parmesan to grate on top…heaven! Perfect way to end a very long week…
What do you cook to find your Zen?
*If you’re like me and love fava beans when they are in season, there is definitely Zen to be found in shelling them but I have just discovered a new trick for removing the second inner layer. Add baking soda to the water before you boil the beans (1 TBS per 1 litre of boiling water) – fish the beans out when they pop their skins and plunge into cold water to rinse and cool. Makes removing the second skin very easy!