“The Romans referred to the dog days as diēs caniculārēs and associated the hot weather with the star Sirius. They considered Sirius to be the “Dog Star” because it is the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major (Large Dog). Sirius is also the brightest star in the night sky. The term “Dog Days” was used earlier by the Greeks.”
It’s happening. The “dog days” of summer are just around the corner in the southeast. Telltale signs include mandatory afternoon river breaks, sweaty nights and ripe tomatoes. Yes, those green ones are ripe. They are called “Green Doctors” and if you don’t grow them, you should. Not only do they get to confuse the heck outta everyone harvesting them, they are so super sweet it’s hard for me to not eat them all in the field.
While I have personally been on a little summer squash hiatus, I have decided to bring it back to the plate tonight in one of my all time favorite things to cook whether it’s 5 degrees or 95 degrees: risotto.
The best thing about risotto is that it’s so delicious when it’s warm and gooey and then it can transform into so many different delicious leftovers. Arancini, breakfast scramble, soup, wrapped in collards and steamed….the possibilities are endless. It’s also a blank slate. I love to have a roasted vegetable and a green in my risotto with some fresh herbs and a mild creamy cheese like a chevre. In the winter I like roasted butternut squash and kale and in the summer it’s roasted patty pan squashes and chard. You can substitute spinach, arugula, mizuna, kale, mustards (whatever is growing in your garden) for the greens in this recipe. Choose your own fresh herbs too, mix it up until it’s your perfect combination of summer risotto.
Since I sorta feel like I have green beans growing out of my ears right now, I had to roast up some of these Romanos as an accompaniment to my buddy, risotto.
My old boss, Bob Cannard, LOVED to tell us about the “ethereal sweetness” of all the fruits and vegetables he grows. I thought no one in the world but this man used this phrase, google it, it’s a thing. Anyway, he takes the cake for using it the MOST for sure. And I myself have never found an occasion where it seemed appropriate to use until now. Until perfectly ripe, perfectly roasted cherry tomatoes. Ethereal sweetness. Please take a moment this summer to roast cherry tomatoes and eat them on everything you put into your mouth. You will thank me for that all day long. Because we can’t do these things in the winter. This is what the dog days are all about folks, turning on your oven and sweating it out for ethereal sweetness.
Roasted Summer Squash and Chard Risotto
2-4 patty pan squashes or 1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large leaves of chard, chiffonade
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, diced small
1.5 cups arborio rice
1 tablespoon fresh herbs, minced ( I like oregano and rosemary together here)
2 cups chicken stock (or dry white wine)
water ( 2 – 5 cups)
1/4 cup chevre (optional)
At 350 degrees in a small cast iron skillet, add the summer squash and olive oil. Roast until the squash as some color on all sides. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, add butter and onions. Saute until onions are slightly browned. Add arborio rice. Stir until the rice gets a little color and starts to smell a little nutty. Add fresh herbs and the first cup of chicken stock, stirring constantly. From here on out you just want to add a cup of liquid at a time and keep stirring. You are stirring up the starches of this particular rice which makes risotto so rich and creamy. I have found that usually about 20 -25 minutes of stirring and adding liquid leads to a perfectly cooked risotto. I then add my cheese and cover the pot for 5 minutes. Remove cover and stir melted chesse into rice. Serve with fresh parsley and basil. Even a squeeze of lemon on top to cut the fat of the butter and cheese is divine.
If you are in the Greeneville area and looking for some decent cheese for this recipe, I have been supporting Ziegenwald Farm from the Jonesborough Farmer’s market since the winter and their plain chevre is perfect in this risotto.
Romano beans are like the flatter cousin of your more common green bean. The wider surface area makes these ideal for getting a good sweet char on. The secret to still crisp, perfectly charred beans is to steam them a little in your hot cast iron before throwing that baby into a 400 degree oven.
Roasted Romano Beans and Cherry Tomatoes
Romano beans, stemmed
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon water
cherry tomatoes, halved
In a cast iron pan, combine all ingredients, cover and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes until beans are slightly softened. Removed from stove top and throw into 400 degree over until liquid is absorbed and bottom half of beans and tomatoes are roasted nicely. This dish would also love some fresh parsely and lemon juice to serve, but that is purely optional.
Oh! And as far as that poached egg is concerned, I’m gonna let HuffPo help you with that one. Look out for my putaneggonit.com blog someday….