Friday, August 26, 2011
50 Women Game Changers in Food - #12 Lidia Bastianich - Rice and Asparagus Soup
From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite..."Tutti a tavola a mangiare!” This simple phrase is the age old Italian call to dinner and Lidia Bastinaich uses it at the end of each episode of her PBS cooking program. Were she to call me to the table, I'd be there in an instant, honored to break bread with the woman who captured 12th position on the Gourmet Live list of Women Game Changers in Food. She is a fascinating woman who has built a successful life and career around the food she fashions and brings to life. She was born in Istria when the region still belonged to Italy. It was ceded to Yugoslavia after WWII and the blending of Italian and Slavic cultures produced a cuisine that is unique to the area. Her food reflects that and it often marries elements of Italian and Croatian cooking. She has an impressive resume. There is, of course, her work as a television chef, but she is also a best-selling cookbook author, a successful restauranteur and the owner of a food and entertainment business. She is also an active community service volunteer. I love her recipes and some of my favorite pasta and soup dishes have come come from her cookbooks. I've chosen a lovely soup to represent her cooking today. It is an unlikely marriage of asparagus, cauliflower, leeks and brown rice. The combination produces an outstanding peasant soup that I know you will enjoy. The soup is substantial without being heavy, and its deep flavor, born of a long simmer and slow reduction, is truly unique. Here's the recipe.
Rice and Asparagus Soup...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Lidia Bastianich
1-1/2 pounds fresh asparagus spears
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus more for serving
4 plump garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
2 cups cauliflower fleurettes cut in 1/2-inch cubes
3 cups chopped leek, cut in 1/4-inch white and green pieces
5 quarts water
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt plus more to taste
1 cup brown rice
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano
1) Rinse asparagus and snap off tough bottom stubs. Slice spears crosswise into 1/3-inch chunks, including tips. Pour 1/3 cup of oil into a 6-quart pot, drop in crushed garlic and turn on a medium-high flame. Cook garlic for a minute or two, just until fragrant and lightly colored. Add cauliflower to pot, and stir to coat with hot oil. Cook, stirring now and then, until cauliflower is crusty but not too browned, about 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in chopped leeks and cook until softened and sizzling, 3 or 4 minutes more.
2) Pour 5 quarts of water into pot. Add bay leaves and salt. Stir well, scraping up any crust that formed on bottom of pot. Cover and bring to boil over high heat. Stir in asparagus, return to a boil and adjust heat to keep broth bubbling steadily and slowly reducing. Cook, uncovered, for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until volume is reduced by almost 1/3 and broth is full of flavor. Stir in rice, return to boil and cook for 30 minutes, until rice is al dente, then turn off heat. Season with freshly ground black pepper and more salt to taste. Stir in 1/4 cup grated cheese. Serve immediately in warm bowls. Pass more cheese and olive oil at the table. Yield: 3 quarts.
The following bloggers are also paying tribute to Lidia Bastianich. I hope you'll visit all of them.
Val - More Than Burnt Toast
Joanne - Eats Well With Others
Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed
Susan - The Spice Garden
Claudia - A Seasonal Cook in Turkey
Heather - girlichef
Miranda - Mangoes and Chutney
Jeanette - Healthy Living
April - Abby Sweets
Katie - Making Michael Pollan Proud
Mary - One Perfect Bite
Kathleen -Bake Away with Me
Viola - The Life is Good Kitchen
Sue - The View from Great Island
Barbara - Movable Feasts
Kathleen - Gonna Want Seconds
Amy - Beloved Green
Jeanette - Healthy Living
Linda - Ciao Chow Linda
Next week we will highlight the food and recipes of Rachael Ray. It will be really interesting to see what everyone comes up with. If you'd like to join us please email me for additional information. Everyone is welcome.