Tomato Risotto takes time to make, but the preparation can be therapeutic. The ingredients include fresh tomatoes grown in a Homer high tunnel, as seen here in Teri Robl’s kitchen in this photo taken on Sept. 17, 2019, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Teri Robl)

Tomato Risotto takes time to make, but the preparation can be therapeutic. The ingredients include fresh tomatoes grown in a Homer high tunnel, as seen here in Teri Robl’s kitchen in this photo taken on Sept. 17, 2019, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Teri Robl)

Kachemak Cuisine: Mais oui — Get a taste of France with grated carrot salad

It’s the season of harvest and a bit more time available to enjoy it. The garden is done, the flower baskets are spent and all that is left to attend to are a few begonia stragglers adorning the deck with their gorgeous colors.

When my boys were little, they ate local grown carrots like they were candy. I bought them by the 5-gallon bucket from anyone who would sell them to me. Now our little grandson Kase eats them with the same gusto his daddy did years ago, but this time, Grampa grew the carrots.

When I was a girl my Gramma would come to visit and always had a woven basket with her full of home-made baked goods, fresh produce from her garden, or canned peaches, cucumbers or beans. Her goodie basket should have an honored place in the Smithsonian not far from Julia Child’s kitchen. The countless special items that basket contained over the years also included springtime wild asparagus and from her summer garden, sun-kissed tomatoes, bright green bell peppers, sweet carrots, crisp green beans, tasty yellow cherry tomatoes, and plastic bags tied with twisty-ties of washed and dried leaf lettuce, complete with a jar of a dressing she made with sugar, vinegar and oil to dress perfect leaves with. Sometimes her basket held Parker House rolls, pecan sticky buns or chocolate chip cookies.

I love Alaska carrots. In my biased opinion, they are the best, maybe because the Other Fisherman grows them for us now, and any Alaska carrot is far superior. I am incredibly proud of the produce our state produces, as well as the best seafood in the world.

This carrot salad is standard fare in French cafes and charcuteries. With the explosion of summer produce we all need more recipes for veggies that take full advantage their freshness. This salad keeps well and if you have it prepared and stored in the fridge; you’ll be eating carrots every day. This classic version is made with a salad oil rather than stronger-tasting olive oil. Choose a mild-tasting olive oil rather than a strong green one. For a twist on this version, try it curried with added ingredients of capers, cumin and curry.

French Grated Carrot Salad

Yield 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or canola oil (or a mix of the two),

or use 2 tablespoons plain low-fat yogurt or buttermilk and 4 tablespoons oil

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar or white-wine vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Salt and black pepper

1-pound Alaska carrots, peeled and grated

¼ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Preparation

Whisk together the oil, lemon juice, vinegar, and mustard in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper. Add the carrots and parsley and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate before serving (make this 30 minutes to 1 hour ahead, then toss again).

When I moved to Alaska 40 years ago, I gave up the thought of ever tasting a sweet, vine ripened tomato while here. It’s been a long wait, but local farmers and friends with high tunnels and green houses have made that dream come true.

I found a recipe for tomato risotto which intrigued me. It takes a little time to cook risotto properly and requires your full attention, but the risotto method is therapeutic. My only focus is on the pot contents as I slowly ladle in the broth and watch the grains absorb the moisture, adding another ladle only when all the liquid is completed absorbed. The constant stirring slowly releases the starch and produces a velvety and creamy dish. An all-time Italian classic, basic risotto is made with the addition of butter, parmesan cheese and parsley.

Tomato Risotto

Courtesy of the New York Times, David Tanis

Servings 4-6

This summery version is based on red, ripe tomatoes from the garden, but if you want to up the tomato quotient, surround the finished dish with slices of multicolored heirloom varieties. Best as a first course or vegetarian main course, it could also pair with a main course — grilled fish, for instance, which is a staple in our lives here.

Ingredients

Extra-virgin olive oil

1 large onion, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)

Salt and pepper

1 ½ cups arborio or carnaroli rice

Pinch of red-pepper flakes

2 garlic cloves, minced

½ cup dry white wine

2 cups diced ripe red tomatoes

3 cups boiling water, vegetable or chicken broth

2 tablespoons butter

½ cup grated pecorino or Parmesan, plus more for serving

4 medium tomatoes, in different colors, sliced

Chopped parsley, for garnish

Snipped basil, for garnish

Step 1: Put 3 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat, then add the onion, and season generously with salt. Add pepper to taste, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.

Step 2: Add the rice and cook the onions, stirring, until the onions are barely brown, about 2 minutes. Add red-pepper flakes, garlic, white wine and diced tomatoes, and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes more.

Step 3: Add 2 cups boiling water or broth and adjust the heat to a brisk simmer. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring well with a wooden spoon every minute or so.

Step 4: When the liquid is absorbed, add remaining 1 cup water or broth and continue to cook for another 5 minutes, until the rice is cooked, but the grains are still firm.

Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding another splash of water if necessary, to loosen the mixture. Turn off the heat, stir in the pecorino and 2 tablespoons butter.

Step 5: Transfer to a low, wide serving bowl. Surround the rice with tomato slices and season them with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with parsley and basil. Pass more grated cheese at the table.

Tomato Risotto takes time to make, but the preparation can be therapeutic, as seen here in Teri Robl’s kitchen in this photo taken on Sept. 17, 2019, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Teri Robl)

Tomato Risotto takes time to make, but the preparation can be therapeutic, as seen here in Teri Robl’s kitchen in this photo taken on Sept. 17, 2019, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Teri Robl)

Tomato Risotto takes time to make, but the preparation can be therapeutic. Garnish with snipped basil, as seen here in Teri Robl’s kitchen in this photo taken on Sept. 17, 2019, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Teri Robl)

Tomato Risotto takes time to make, but the preparation can be therapeutic. Garnish with snipped basil, as seen here in Teri Robl’s kitchen in this photo taken on Sept. 17, 2019, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Teri Robl)

Tomato Risotto takes time to make, but the preparation can be therapeutic. Garnish with snipped basil, as seen here in Teri Robl’s kitchen in this photo taken on Sept. 17, 2019, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Teri Robl)

Tomato Risotto takes time to make, but the preparation can be therapeutic. Garnish with snipped basil, as seen here in Teri Robl’s kitchen in this photo taken on Sept. 17, 2019, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Teri Robl)

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