Are you still trying to think of what to make for your sweetie this weekend? Stop! Do not make reservations ladies and gentlemen. You can create a memorable meal in your own kitchen. If you are like me and need to watch calories, because as we get older the extra pounds are hard to lose, then eating out at a restaurant and being tempted by unhealthy choices is just not the way to go. We desire to bring a little variety to our plate don’t we?
Come on stay with me, I can hear a lot of you saying ‘Awwwwww’, because you really did not want me to make you feel guilty. I intend to, because you can still cook a fabulous and romantic meal, keep it simple, learn to eat lean portions, and add a touch of ‘wild’ ingredients to bring out the tiger in your partner’s palate without compromising yourself. Portion control is one of the keys to keeping off weight.
Sure eating out you can share a plate, not order carbs, ask for low sodium, or whatever our nemesis is. But I challenge you to take it to the drawing board. What ‘wild’ ingredients do you like, but reserve for only special occasions? That could also be a hidden disaster in itself. My doctor always told me to eat a little bit of something I crave, like chocolate. If I did not, he said I would eat more than my share because we tend to binge on things we are keeping at a distance. Keep things you like on hand, so that you do not go off of your eating plan.
Let’s put something wild on the plate for Valentines! My sweetie likes risotto. He likes red wine, and mushrooms of all kinds. He and I both are passionate about truffles. You cannot get fresh truffles though-unless you own a restaurant. Only in oil and products at your local market, and boy are they expensive. He also likes wild boar. There is only one place I know for sure carries it all year long and I drive all the way to Philly to buy it. My first choice for our special meal was an endive salad with a few ingredients that included chocolate shavings and port dressing. Oh now you are saying, “That does not sound low calorie to me”!
Snow put a dent in my Valentine meal plans! Exotic ideas and creative risk can pay off though if you keep a few ingredients on hand for those spur of the moment ideas. So I have this wild boar ham, I have risotto, broth, crescent dough, a little cheese, and I have a jar of la tartufata (truffle cream). This might seem like a magic pantry as a friend calls mine, but I just splurge on occasion. Hubby and I both try and eat light and vegetarian during the week, so we can dip into ingredients that are not on our low calorie menu plans. I know, kind of bites right? Since you all are being so nice and are still with me I am going to give you my recipe for a ‘Wild’ Valentine Love on A Plate.
1/4 pound of wild boar prosciutto thick cut- 1 slice cut into small pieces for risotto prep¼ of chopped red onion, or onion of your choice1 teaspoon full of Italian seasonings1 teaspoon full of garlic, or 2 crushed garlic cloves¼ cup of dried mixed mushrooms- crumble larger mushrooms with hands (amazing how easy it was), or 1 Portobello mushroom, remove stem, and clean out gills (1 small equals ¼ cup)4 tablespoons of olive oil1 ½ cup of arborio rice (risotto- gets creamy consistency as it cooks)4 cups of stock or broth, preferably veggie stock1 small jar of La Tartufata, or white truffle oil (lasts in refrigerator, good for drizzle only)-1 teaspoon for each serving of risotto as garnish, and for making spread for mini’s1 scallion per 2 bowls of risotto for garnish (optional)1 package (sheet) crescent dough- this will be enough for eight mini sandwiches, or substitute with small size baguette, cut into 2 inch horizontal pieces, and slice in half2 teaspoons of prepared mustard, or mayo- your preference, I just used the truffle spread alone.1/3 cup of Italian cheese blend- ¼ for risotto, and the rest sprinkled on mini sandwiches
- Mix together either mustard or mayo with a teaspoon of la tartufata (optional)
- Bake crescents until golden brown, cool, slice in half; set both aside
- In a 5 quart pot over medium heat add olive oil. Just before smoking point add wild boar (ham), onions and cook until translucent; add Italian seasonings, garlic, and stir well; quickly add risotto and stir, letting it brown a bit (an old south American rice trick I learned in Texas). Then add veggie stock until it just covers the rice an inch over. When risotto begins to boil add mushrooms. Stirring the risotto on a medium heat, uncovered (this is where it is a labor of love) until it begins to thicken, you will need to add stock. Only add stock if rice begins to show, and you know it is not ready yet. Stirring also helps release the starch to create the creamy texture that so many love about this dish. As this is cooking the mushrooms are also soaking up the broth and will become tender to the bite. (This process should only take from the moment risotto began to boil, about 20 minutes or so. Move off of heat, add ¼ cup cheese; stir in well and let sit. Any moisture you do not see at the bottom will soak into risotto.)
- While that is waiting add some wild boar (ham) pieces to the sliced bread of choice, spread la tartufata or mixture, and sprinkle with light cheese. Heat up Panini maker, or griddle pan and cook till cheese melts.
- Top off with a dab of la tartufata and scallions, and serve with two mini wild boar Panini’s. Add a side of spinach or a salad to complete a healthy recommended meal.
Open up a great bottle of Masi Campofiorin- Baby Amarone (Ripasso) wine in the $15 price range
LaTartufata (Mushroom, Olive, Truffle Condiment and Sauce) is produced in Italy's unspoiled Marche region renowned for truffles. La Tartufata is a versatile condiment and sauce ready to use as is or diluted in chicken stock, olive oil or cream.
As a condiment, add to pasta, rice, egg dishes, cutlets, chicken breasts, scaloppini, or on warm crostini as an excellent appetizer. Use also as a stuffing for meat, or as a filling for ravioli and tortellini. I recommend you do not cook with this product, it is meant to add at the end of recipe process, or it will lose its truffle strength (only contains 3% white truffle, more of an essence, but worth it!).
www.partnersinwineclub.com. Chef E is also a published poet and writer. You can read more of her food and wine pairing ideas, as well as food education at www.cookappeal.blogspot.com/.