Saturday, May 2, 2009

Risotto with Calamari and Scallions

May 1st is the Festival of Flowers Day” uncle George from Greece said over the phone the other day. Like Greece, there are already a lot of flowers blossoming everywhere in Louisiana. It is the best time to be in the South! My husband and I bought a lot of plants to fill out the empty spaces in our garden this spring. Some plants already have many flowers. Their sweet fragrances and stunning colors make me very happy.

A Japanese proverb says, “dumplings are better than flowers”, which is similar to the sayings “pudding before praise” or “bread is better than the songs of birds.” This means that eating dumplings may satisfy you more (in a materialistic way) than just watching beautiful flowers. In order to make myself fully satisfied and also celebrate the “Festival of Flowers Day” on May 1, I decided to cook this seafood risotto.

I used ripe tomatoes in this risotto, which were grown in Louisiana that I found at a local market. They look a little unattractive, but very juicy. As I mentioned before for the Greek Salad dish in this blog, tomatoes are a very healthy vegetable. They are rich in vitamins C, A and lycopene. Unfortunately, cooking tomatoes may damage their vitamin C potency, because vitamin C is easily destroyed by heat. But humans can absorb lycopene in tomatoes more successfully (three to four times more!) if they are heat processed.

Sadly I ran out of dill and I was not able to find any in the market (our own dill in the garden is still to young to be harvested). So I used green onions instead of dill. However, using dill is highly recommended!

1 lb calamari
1 lb scallions
1 chopped onion
1-2 cloves of garlic
3-4 chopped tomatoes
1 bay leaf
2 cups rice
¼ cup green onion (dill is better!)
½ cup red wine
2 tbsp tomato paste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1. Wash the calamari pieces and scallions well. Cut the bodies of the calamari into rings.
2. Heat 3tbsp of olive oil and the garlic in a large pot and fry the chopped onion until they become transparent. Add the tomatoes and fry them for 3 to 5 minutes. Add the wine, tomato paste and bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper and simmer for about 20 minutes.
3. Add the rice in the tomato mixture. Stir and simmer for 5 minutes.
4. Add the calamari pieces, scallions and green onions. Stir and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or "al dente" (Italian for having it a little bit hard on the inside). Turn off the heat and add ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil.

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