Thursday, August 15, 2013

Cooking With Ashley: Mushroom & Broccoli Risotto, Gluten Free Pasta With Lemon Yellow Squash, Spinach, & Shrimp, and Garden Tomato & Cucumber Parmesan Salad

So yesterday my BFF Ashley and I had set a date to get together and do some Arts n' Crafts!

I was still feeling a bit under the weather so we decided to hit up the health food store because a friend of ours was raving about Oregano Oil which is said to be good for respiratory health and many other things.  Ashley was also telling me how a friend of hers was suggesting that she go on a gluten free diet, because all her life she has had eczema issues with her skin.  In efforts to clear up her skin once and for all, she really wanted to try out some options to see if she would be able to follow through with a gluten free diet.  Last year, my dad had also tried the gluten free route, so I am very familiar with some gluten free products and had pointed her in the right direction as far as alternatives for certain foods go.  We are both Italian, and cutting out pasta altogether is pretty much sacrilegious!  

So I picked up some Oregano Oil and she picked up some Gluten Free Pasta to try out...

Our Arts n Crafts Day turned into a Cooking Party!! I also remembered I had leftover mushrooms n spinach from last weeks soup post, and I wanted to use them up before they went bad! I hate wasting food! 

We tried out some gluten free dishes that she would enjoy eating, and that are super easy to make as well!

The menu for this cooking party was 
Mushroom n Broccoli Risotto
Gluten Free Pasta with Yellow Squash, Spinach, n Shrimp
Garden Tomato n Cucumber Salad

So we started with our 
Mushroom Risotto

For this recipe you will need

Olive Oil
1 Clove of Garlic
Chopped Mushrooms
( you can use fresh Broccoli, but I had the last bit of a frozen bag left, so I wanted to just use the rest)
1/2 a Small Onion 
(also had this onion being saved in the fridge so I just used it to get rid of it)
1 Cup Arborio Rice
1 Cup of Water
1 Cup Chicken Stock
Parmesan Cheese
White Wine
(You can use cooking wine if you have it on hand, but I just used regular wine I had around the house)
Salt n Pepper

So we're going to start off prepping our veggies, so first dice up your mushrooms and onions and throw them into a bowl along with your broccoli heads.

Next mince your garlic and coat the bottom of your pan with extra virgin olive oil.
How magical does that look?!? 
Can't you just smell it from there?

Once that is simmering nicely, and before the garlic turns brown, add your bowl of veggies!!
Let those really simmer and cook through nicely before adding your rice....

Once your veggies are pretty much cooked through enough, you want to add your 1 Cup of Arborio rice.  I really love this rice because as it cooks it starts to form this creamy like consistency and it is 

Now once you add your rice, stir that in with the veggies and make sure all of the grains are covered in the oil until they start looking clear. Once all of the rice is covered in the oil, you want to add 1 cup of water, and 1 cup of chicken stock. 

Now STIR!!
Lower the heat, and put the lid on and crack it a bit...
Let it cook...

While that is cooking we are going to prep our veggies for the next dishes!

So my parents came home this past weekend with some vegetables from my grandmother's garden!
They brought home some yellow squash and fresh cucumbers!! 
I just had to try them out in some dishes!! 

The next dish we are going to make is 
Gluten Free Pasta With Lemon Yellow Squash, Spinach, n Shrimp
(We tried out the gluten pasta for Ashley, but feel free to use regular pasta for this dish if you so choose!)

1 Pound of Gluten Free Spaghetti 
(We used Schar Brand)
1 Yellow Squash
Half a Bag of Baby Spinach
1 Clove of Garlic
1 Stick of Earth Balance Vegan Butter
Olive Oil
Handful of Shrimp  (Fresh or Frozen is up to you)
Salt n Pepper
Half a Lemon 

So first we're going to chop up our squash... 

Now this is just a matter of personal preference, Ashley didn't mind the squash skins on , but I think next time I make it, I would peel the skin off first.  Even after cooking them and steaming them for 20 minutes, the skins were still really hard and crunchy to the bite. It was a bit too thick for me...

Next if you are using frozen shrimp, defrost them in some lukewarm water.
Not hot, or they will cook! Let those defrost for a bit while you chop your garlic.
Yes I use LOTS of garlic for my dishes... I'm Italian, what can I say!?!?
At least I keep the vampires away :-B

So oil your pan, turn up the heat and when that gets nice and hot, add your garlic.
Before that browns, add about half of your butter. Let the butter melt a bit so the oil and the butter start to make a nice little sauce. 

Now add your squash to the pan! 
Put a lid on that and let those steam!

Start a pot of salted water for your pasta!

While those are steaming, Let's check on our Risotto!

It looks like the risotto is absorbing all the liquid very nicely, 
stir more!!
The key to good risotto is to keep stirring and keep between low and medium heat...
Oh also at this point, I added some white whine 
( I love any dishes with a little splash of wine, 
a tablespoon should be enough), 
and Ash added some Parmesan cheese! 

I would also strain the defrosting shrimp at this point, rid them of any tail shells, and cut them in nice sized chunks. This way more shrimp is spread evenly throughout your pasta once you mix it together.

While I handled the risotto and squash, Ashley prepares us a nice little salad with our 

Garden Tomatoes n' Cucumbers!!

Ashley made a nice little vinaigrette with Olive Oil, White Vinegar, Honey, and Salt n Pepper
She added some grated parmesan cheese to the mixture, onions, and finished it off with a dried cranberry and honey roasted almond mix by Almond Accents...

While Ashley is mixing up our salad, I added our spinach to our now tenderly cooked squash along with the other half of the butter, and let that melt over the veggies...

We took a little interlude while things were bubbling away to dance and twirl eachother to some Joni...

Your pasta water should be boiling by now.
Add your pasta and stir with a pasta ladle to prevent it from sticking together.

Now just an FYI for anyone cooking Gluten Free pasta for the first time...
As you are cooking it and tasting it to see if it is done, it does have a very cardboardy, fake kind of taste, and it is going to taste a little "off" until it is fully cooked.

If you are used to pasta with gluten and eat it often, switching over to gluten free pasta is a bit weird at first, but the taste is pretty manageable, and with the right ingredients it can be delicious! 

While your pasta is cooking, now add your shrimp to your squash and spinach mixture!
We add this last because shrimp cooks very fast, and we don't want to overcook it
Now salt n pepper it, and add your half a lemon's juice to it...

Make sure you are still stirring your pasta and taste to see if it's done. 
It's a bit tough to eat gluten free pasta al dente, you want to make sure it is cooked all the way through so it doesn't taste like cardboard lol! 

Strain your pasta once that is done! I would not rinse the pasta with water, I'm not sure about gluten free pasta, but with regular pasta, rinsing it rids the pasta of all of it's starches, and in traditional Italian cooking, we like to keep in all of that flavor! So right after you strain the pasta, put it into your large pasta bowl, and dump in your Squash, Spinach, and Shrimp Mixture! Mix everything together! 

Isn't that just BEAUTIFUL!!?!

Our Risotto is done as well! 

Let's bring our salad over to our table!

And our yummy pasta!!

Today we're dining Al Fresco!!

Ashley is waiting to try out our concoctions! 
I think she will do just fine with her new gluten free diet, 
Let's wish her the best of luck!
Are you thinking about going gluten free, or have you already tried such a diet?
How did things turn out for you? 
Did it soothe what ails you? Have you had success?
Comment below and please let us know!

We hope you enjoyed our recipes for today!
If you try them out, please let us know how they turn out..
And also comment below and let us know if you have any questions as well!


Dena Miller said...

Everything looks so yummy!!!! Great post and great photo's as usual!! I have never tried gluten Free products before, it is good to know about the pasta tip you mentioned for those that are unfamiliar. Looks like you and Ashly had a great day! Joni Mitchell too!!!

Justina said...

Thanks Dena! Yea gluten Free products are hit or miss... I made gluten free brownies once , and they came out like hockey pucks... If i threw one at someone's head , I could've killed em, Lmao!!

It was a fun day! Yea Joni is great!
thanks for reading :-)


Dena Miller said...

I will remember not to make those brownies..haha!