Sunday was our 18th wedding anniversary! I wanted to make something new, different and a little bit special. Staying in and cooking was entirely my choice. I had 18 gorgeous roses sitting on the table, and with new blog friendly dishes, napkins, and placemats – it was almost like going out! I knew Caesar salad would be on the menu as there were 8 giant heads of romaine calling me from garden. As we spent the day running errands, I was thinking about what I’d like to go with that salad! I’m not sure if it came to me at Home Depot, Target or Pier 1 … but Seafood Risotto popped in my head! Not risotto with seafood mixed in, but grilled and placed on top! Yes – that was it. I made a mental shopping list and we made two more stops to gather the ingredients.
Caesar Salad – Laura’s Way!
2 generous servings
2 Romaine lettuce hearts, – about 5 leaves each
Rinse the lettuce well with cold water. Wrap in kitchen towel to remove all moisture and chill thoroughly prior to serving. Chill your salad plates.
2-3 cloves minced garlic, or one head finely chopped green spring garlic
3-4 anchovy filets, minced, and 3-4 anchovy filets for garnish
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup Cardini’s Caesar salad dressing
Stir the minced garlic, minced anchovy, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce, and salad dressing all together and set aside until ready to use.
I have made Caesar salad the traditional way for many years. Once I discovered Cardini’s Caesar dressing, I stopped. I think it is one of the best bottled dressings ever made. However, I like to customize it to our taste with the addition of garlic and anchovy every now and again. Give it a try and let me know what you think! (I am not being compensated in any way by Cardini’s.)
Parmesan and Garlic Crouton
1-2 baguette slices per serving
drizzle each slice of bread with a little olive oil
rub the bread with fresh garlic cloves
top with fresh grated parmesan cheese and a few herbs, of your choice
Broil until cheese is bubbly and bread is toasted, just before serving.
When ready to serve, place the lettuce on a chilled plate. Top with the dressing and additional anchovies, if desired, and freshly shaved parmesan cheese. Add the crouton and sliced lemon, and plenty of freshly cracked pepper.
Laura’s Seafood Risotto
1 1/2 quarts seafood stock
1 cup of dry, white wine
1 cup chopped fresh leek, white part only
2 Tablespoons fresh chopped tarragon (reserve 1/2 teaspoon)
2 Tablespoons chopped green spring garlic – or, 2 cloves fresh minced garlic if green spring garlic is not available (reserve 1/2 teaspoon)
grated zest of one lemon – use a microplane grater (reserve 1/4 teaspoon)
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, additional for garnish
4 Tablespoons of butter, divided
2 Tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
Assorted seafood to be grilled and placed on risotto for serving. We used scallops and prawns. (Placing the scallops on skewers makes it easier to grill them. If using bamboo skewers, be sure and soak them in water for 30 minutes or more, before using.)
Make a basting butter for the seafood with 2 tablespoons melted butter and the reserved garlic, tarragon and lemon zest. Set aside until ready to grill the scallops and prawns.
To prepare the risotto:
Place the stock in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a low simmer. Reduce the heat to low.
Place the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter in another saucepan. Warm over medium heat. Add the chopped leeks and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat the grains with the butter and oil. Add in the minced garlic, tarragon and lemon zest.
Add the white wine. Continue to stir over medium heat until the liquid has been absorbed. Begin adding the hot stock, a couple ladles at a time. Stir thoroughly and add more stock, after liquid is fully absorbed. This process will take about 30 minutes or so. Continue until all the liquid has been used. The mixture should be soft and creamy and the rice should be al dente. Stir in the remaining 1 Tablespoon of butter and the 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese. Keep warm over very low heat while you grill the scallops and prawns
Baste the seafood skewers with the melted herb butter you prepared. Grill the seafood on a hot grill for about 4 minutes per side.
When ready to serve, place a generous portion of risotto on a plate. Top with the grilled shellfish. Garnish with freshly shaved parmesan cheese, fresh chopped parsley and freshly cracked pepper. If it is your anniversary, or even if it’s not, serve with a bubbly glass of blanc de noirs champagne!