I drink tea every evening and often incorporate it in my cooking (and baking). Any green tea will work well for this recipe, but I used a very special kind, that goes by the beautiful name Thunder Dragon. I did not know, but that’s how people of Bhutan call their country… Bhutan: The Land of the Thunder Dragon. Isn’t that beautiful? The tea they produce is rarely exported, but not too long ago was available for sale by “In Pursuit of Tea”, and I got some. First time I made this dish, I brewed some tea and used it to cook the rice later, but if you don’t have a problem with the tea leaves staying around… this method is easier and delivers the same flavor.

(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

for the rice:
1 cup Basmati rice, rinse and drained
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
fresh ginger, minced (about 1 tsp, or to taste)
2 cups water
2 tsp green tea leaves (loose)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 to 3/4 cup shelled edamame (frozen works great)

for the butternut squash:
1/2 butternut squash, cut in 1-inch pieces
olive oil to coat
salt, pepper and paprika to taste

Start by roasting the butternut squash. Heat the oven to 420F. Coat the pieces of squash with olive oil, season with salt, pepper and paprika. Place as a single layer on a baking dish lined with aluminum foil, sprinkle a bit of water (a tablespoon or so), and cover tightly with foil. Roast for 25 minutes, remove the cover and roast for 20 more minutes uncovered while you prepare the rice.

If using frozen edamame, remove it from the freezer and place on a baking dish to defrost while you make the rice. Heat the grapeseed oil in a saucepan, add the ginger, saute for a few seconds, and add the rice. Season with salt, and saute for a minute, until all grains are well coated with oil. Add the water, tea, and bring to a gently boil. Cover the pan and simmer for 20 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Place the edamame on top of the rice and cover the pan again. Leave for 10 minutes undisturbed, and when the butternut squash is ready, fluff the rice, mix the edamame with it, and serve with the squash around it.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The rice can stand on its own as a side dish, but the color, texture and taste of the roasted squash was surprisingly good with it. I often do a very similar approach using frozen corn kernels instead of edamame. The residual steam as the rice is ready and waiting is enough to warm up the corn and it retains a very nice texture. If you ever want to perk your rice up, it’s a pretty easy way to do it. I might do a double feature next time, edamame and corn together, green and yellow, the colors of Brazil!

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For a long time certain of my favorite dishes (for example souffles and risottos) were restricted to restaurants, because I felt intimidated to make them myself. I lost my souffle-phobia thanks to my friend Vanda, who kept sending me e-mails about the broccoli or spinach & cheese or other tasty spur-of-the-moment souffle that she was serving for dinner. Indeed, she can whip up a souffle in her sleep…   but because she was 6,000 miles away in Brazil, I resorted to Julia Child in order to Master the Art of Souffle Cooking.

Risotto took a little more time. I had some failures that slowed down my learning curve. Then it hit me: my main problem was lack of patience. You can’t rush it, and you can’t be completely sure how long it will take. Risotto takes however long it needs to reach the stage of perfection, and that is its Zen beauty.

This recipe reinforces the Zen of risotto with green tea as the cooking liquid. I found it in a nice food blog years ago, and made it several times. It’s lighter than traditional versions, and a perfect dish for Spring!

(adapted from Cooking Books blog)

1 quart water
4 bags green tea
oil for the pan
3/4 cups frozen peas, thawed
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup Arborio rice
1 small shallot, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated parmeggiano-reggiano cheese

Bring 1 quart of water to a near boil, then pour it over 4 bags of green tea in a pot, allowing to steep for 2 minutes. Remove the bags and place the pot over low heat to keep it warm.

Blanch the peas in boiling water for one minute, then drain and run them under cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside.

Warm the olive oil in a large pan or heavy-bottomed pot and sauté the shallots until they soften. Add the rice, season lightly with salt, and cook, stirring, for 4-5 minutes, then begin adding the tea, one ladle at a time. Stir constantly until all of the tea has been absorbed by the rice and add another ladle. Continue this process, adding tea and stirring to incorporate. The rice will take at least 20 minutes to be ready, check it from time to time.

Stir in the grated cheese and peas until the cheese is melted and incorporated and the peas are warmed through. Remove the risotto from the heat, and begin adding the lemon juice, tasting, until it has a bright flavor. Then stir in the parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve with a few shavings of parmiggiano over the top.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Most recipes for risotto start with some white wine and end with quite a bit of butter. You can modify this basic recipe to take it in that direction, or try this lighter version, that is still very satisfying. It is important to avoid over-brewing your tea, because green tea can quickly become bitter. I used this tea from Peet’s, a favorite of mine. The original recipe called for mint, but our mint was not growing yet, so I used parsley instead. I think fresh tarragon will be excellent too.

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