Pesto-ish Risotto

Every fall, black swallowtail caterpillars takeover my backyard basil plants. I needed to make this basil-loaded dish before sharing my plants with them. :/

This risotto was rich, creamy, and hearty. The absolute highlight of the finished dish was the crispy garlic and pan-toasted pine nut topping. Loved it.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Christian Reynoso. I adapted the original recipe to prepare it in a pressure cooker. Easy and elegant.

Yield: 4 to 6 Servings

  • 4 T unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 cups arborio or carnaroli rice
  • 5 to 8 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced, divided
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 5 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup (4 T) raw pine nuts
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 1/2 cups (loosely packed) basil leaves (from 1 large bunch), torn into 1″ pieces
  • shaved or finely grated Parmesan, for serving (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  • Parmesan rind, optional
  • juice of 1/2 large lemon
  1. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a 5 or 7 quart pressure cooker over medium heat.
  2. Add the rice and increase heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring, until grains are partially translucent, about 1 1/2 minutes.
  3. Add 2 cloves of garlic slices and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  4. Add all of the unheated stock; stir.
  5. Lock the lid in place and bring to high pressure over high heat.
  6. Adjust the heat to maintain high pressure. Cook for 7 minutes.
  7. Release the pressure according to the manufacturer’s instructions or place the pot under running cold water. (I used a quick release method.)
  8. Carefully open the lid, being careful of the steam. The stock should be almost completely absorbed but the rice will be covered with a thick layer of milky broth. (more stock can be added at this point if the risotto appears too thick)
  9. Meanwhile, cook the remaining 6 cloves of garlic slices, olive oil, and pine nuts in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until garlic starts to turn golden around edges. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook, stirring often, until pine nuts and garlic are golden, about 5 minutes.
  10. Remove from heat; stir in turmeric and season with pepper, to taste. Set aside.
  11. Stir in remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, the Parmesan rind, if using, into the risotto. Season with salt, to taste.
  12. Stir the freshly squeezed lemon juice into the risotto and add freshly ground black pepper, to taste.
  13. Stir basil into risotto.
  14. Ladle risotto, discarding the Parmesan rind, into shallow bowls. Top with garlic–pine nut oil and Parmesan. Serve.

Eggplant, Tomato, & Chickpea Tagine

Lucky me! My friend gave be several beautiful eggplants from her garden. This flavorful North African vegetarian stew was a perfect way to use them. I served it over whole wheat couscous as well as with warm flatbread to soak up all of the delicious sauce.

The recipe was adapted from 177milkstreet.com. I modified the recipe to prepare it in my stove top pressure cooker. I also increased the amount of garlic, substituted my CSA beefsteak tomatoes for half of the grape tomatoes, and omitted the harissa. We ate it with steamed CSA broccolini on the side. It was healthy and hearty vegetarian feast.

Yield: Serves 6

  • 4 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 medium to large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups (1 pint) grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 large beefsteak tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (or substitute an additional 2 cups (1 pint) grape or cherry tomatoes)
  • 4 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 tsp Kosher salt, plus more
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more
  • 2 pounds eggplant, trimmed and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • freshly squeezed juice from 1/2 of a lemon, plus lemon wedges to serve, if desired
  • 1 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
  • harissa, for serving, optional (as a topping for a little spice)
  • whole wheat couscous, for serving (I cooked 1 cup of couscous per the package directions)
  • warm flatbread, for serving, optional (I served it with naan)
  1. In a stove top pressure cooker (or a 6-quart Instant Pot), sauté the oil and garlic over medium heat, stirring often, until golden brown, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. 
  2. Add the onion, tomatoes, ginger, cumin, paprika, cinnamon, 2 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes begin to release some of their juices, 2 to 4 minutes.
  3. Stir in 1/4 cup water, scraping up any browned bits. Gently stir in the eggplant, then distribute in an even layer.
  4. Lock the lid of the pressure cooker (or Instant Pot) in place. Over medium heat, bring to low pressure (first line on a stove top pressure cooker). Cook for 3 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, cook the couscous. Set aside.
  6. When pressure cooking is complete, quick-release the steam by moving the pressure valve to vent. Carefully open the pot.
  7. Gently stir in the chickpeas and lemon juice, then taste and season with salt and pepper.
  8. Stir in the cilantro.
  9. Serve over couscous garnished with additional cilantro, drizzled with additional oil (I omitted it) and with warm flatbread and lemon wedges on the side, as desired.

Tunisian Chickpea Soup (Lablabi)

I am a big fan of toppings, so this creamy, earthy, and hearty vegetarian soup caught my eye. It is served over toasted chunks of bread and then garnished with crunchy, spiced chickpeas, lemon zest, parsley, a sprinkle of cumin, and a drizzle of olive oil. I also loved that the soup incorporated a little spice from harissa.

This recipe was adapted from Cool Beans by Joe Yonan, via The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I used a stove top pressure cooker to cook the beans which significantly expedited the cooking process. I also served the soup over toasted sourdough boule chunks in lieu of rustic bread. Great.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

For the Crispy Chickpeas:

  • 1 3/4 cup cooked chickpeas, or 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon za’atar, plus more to taste

For the Soup:

  • 1 1/2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 loaf hearty rustic bread (about 6 to 8 ounces)(I used 1/2 of a sourdough boule)
  • 1 cup chopped onion, from 1 medium onion
  • 6 to 8 large garlic cloves, minced or finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin, plus more for serving
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon harissa paste, plus more for serving
  • freshly squeezed lemon juice from 1 large lemon (about 3 T)
  • finely grated zest of 1 large lemon (about 1 T), for serving
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, for serving

To Prepare the Crispy Chickpeas:

  1. Transfer the rinsed and drained canned chickpeas to a rimmed baking sheet lined with a clean dish towel or paper towels.
  2. Cover with another towel (or paper towels) on top, rubbing gently to dry.
  3. Remove top towel and let air-dry for at least 30 minutes and preferably 1 hour. (I let them dry for 2+ hours.)

To Prepare the Soup:

  1. In a pressure cooker (I used a stove-top pressure cooker), combine soaked chickpeas, 5 cups water, 1 tablespoon olive oil, bay leaves and 1/2 teaspoon salt over high heat. (Alternatively, use a Dutch oven or heavy stockpot.)
  2. Place the pot over high heat, until the pressure cooker reaches the second ring (high). Adjust the heat to maintain the pressure for 35 minutes. (If using a stockpot, bring to a boil for 2 to 3 minutes, then reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook until chickpeas are tender, about 1 to 2 hours.)
  3. Remove from the heat and let the pressure release naturally.
  4. Heat oven to 400 degrees. (I set my oven to convection roast.)
  5. While chickpeas are cooking, cut bread into thick slices, then tear or cut slices into bite-size pieces.
  6. Place bread in one layer on large rimmed baking sheet and toast until crisp and light brown, about 10 minutes. Let cool on pan and set aside.
  7. Finish the crunchy chickpeas: Raise oven temperature to 425 degrees. (I set my oven to convection roast.)
  8. Remove the towels from baking sheet with the chickpeas, and toss the chickpeas with 2 teaspoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and za’atar until well coated.
  9. Roast until golden and crispy, about 13 to 18 minutes, tossing halfway through. When chickpeas are still hot, sprinkle lightly with more salt. Taste and add more salt or za’atar, or both, as desired.
  10. When the chickpeas for the soup are tender, discard bay leaves.
  11. Using a slotted spoon, transfer 2 cups of chickpeas, 1/2 cup of chickpea cooking liquid and 1/4 cup olive oil to a blender or food processor, and purée until smooth. (I used a Vitamix.)
  12. In a large skillet over medium-high, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil until shimmering.
  13. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.
  14. Add garlic and cook until golden, about 2 minutes.
  15. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon cumin and tomato paste and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 minute. Add a splash of the chickpea cooking liquid to the pan, and bring to a simmer to deglaze, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Turn off heat.
  16. Add chickpea purée and onion mixture to soup, along with harissa and lemon juice, and stir well. Add a little water if soup seems too thick, and more salt, if needed.
  17. To serve, divide toasted bread pieces among soup bowls, then ladle in soup.
  18. Garnish with lemon zest, parsley, olive oil, more cumin and some of the crispy chickpeas — you’ll have leftovers. Serve hot, with more harissa on the side, as desired.

Pressure Cooker Butter Chicken (Chicken Makhani)

One more Indian dish to share… for now. 😉 This is another wonderful pressure cooker version of a classic Indian dish. A pressure cooker is a great tool to use when making Indian food.

This recipe was adapted from The Essential Indian Instant Pot Cookbook: Authentic Flavors and Modern Recipes for Your Electric Pressure Cooker by Archana Mundhe of Ministry of Curry. I used my stove top pressure cooker instead of an Instant Pot. I also modified the proportions and omitted the sugar.

I served this wonderful, saucy chicken over brown Basmati rice with warm naan and steamed beet and turnip greens. Full-flavored, fast and fabulous.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 2 T ghee
  • 2 large yellow onions, finely diced
  • 2 to 2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, halved and patted dry
  • 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes or tomato purée
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 T grated fresh ginger
  • 5 to 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp ancho chile powder, Kashmiri red chile powder or another mild red chile powder
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 cup canned coconut cream
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 2 T dried fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • brown Basmati rice, for serving (stove top: 1 1/2 cups rice & 3 cups chicken stock)
  • naan, for serving, optional
  1. Heat the ghee in a stove top pressure cooker or on high sauté in an Instant Pot.
  2. Add the onion and cook until translucent, 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add the chicken, crushed tomatoes, water, ginger, garlic, Chile powder, salt, garam masala, and turmeric; stir to combine.
  4. Meanwhile, cook the rice in a separate pot. (If using an Instant Pot, stir 1 cup rice, 1 1/2 cups water, and 1 tsp kosher salt in a stainless steel bowl that will fit in the IP. Place a tall steam rack in the pot, making sure the legs rest on the bottom, and place the bowl of rice on the rack.)
  5. Secure the lid of the pressure cooker or Instant Pot. Cook at high pressure for 5 minutes.
  6. Let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes, then vent manually to release any remaining steam. Open the pot. (Remove the rice if using an Instant Pot.)
  7. Add the coconut cream, tomato paste, and fenugreek and stir to combine.
  8. Sauté until the curry comes to a boil and is heated through, about 2 minutes. (At this point, I removed the chicken and continued to reduce the sauce for an additional 4 minutes.)
  9. To serve: Spoon the rice onto plates and label the curry over the top. Sprinkle with cilantro. Serve with naan on the side, as desired.

Pressure Cooker Shrimp Biryani

Pressure Cooker Shrimp Biryani

Compared to my last post, this pressure cooker biryani is an even faster version of this full-flavored Indian dish- very tasty but possibly a little less authentic.

There are a couple points to note in order for this dish to be a success. It is very important to use the largest shrimp available to prevent over-cooking. Secondly, when adding the water to the pot, it must be boiling in order for the rice to cook in the allotted time frame.

This recipe was adapted from The Complete Indian Instant Pot Cookbook by Chandra Ram via The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I increased the amount of garlic, omitted the curry leaves, and used a stove-top pressure cooker instead of an Instant Pot. Nice.

Yield: Serves 6

  • 2 cups Basmati rice
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 Serrano chile, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (I used 4 large cloves)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon Chile powder, preferably Kashmiri (I used Ancho)
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 10 fresh curry leaves, torn into pieces, optional (if available)(can substitute curry powder, to taste)
  • 1 ½ cups boiling water
  • 1 ½ pounds jumbo shrimp (16 to 20 or fewer per pound, see note), peeled and deveined
  • 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice, plus more wedges for serving
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  1. Place the rice in a bowl and cover with 2 cups water. Let stand for 20 minutes, then drain and rinse.
  2. Heat oil in the pot of a pressure cooker (set to the sauté function set on high in an electric pot), until oil is shimmering.
  3. Add onion; cook for about 4 minutes, until softened.
  4. Stir in Serrano chile, ginger, garlic, salt, chile powder, turmeric, paprika and curry leaves (if using); cook for about 1 minute, until fragrant.
  5. Stir in boiling water; using a wooden spoon, stir, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot.
  6. Stir in soaked rice, shrimp and tomatoes (with juice).
  7. Secure the lid and cook on high pressure for 3 minutes. Quick-release the pressure (on my pot, I rotate the release valve 90 degrees), stir lime juice into the rice, then cover the pressure cooker with a kitchen towel and the lid; let it sit for 5 minutes.
  8. Give rice another stir, then taste and add more salt, if needed.
  9. Transfer to a platter, garnish with cilantro and serve with lime wedges on the side.

Note: Make sure to use jumbo shrimp or larger for this recipe. Look for “16/20” or “U/15” on the package; this indicates how many shrimp there are per pound.

Pressure Cooker Arroz con Pollo

Chicken and rice is an absolute favorite in my house. This chicken meat was incredibly tender- falling off the bone- in this pressure cooker version. The rice was full-flavored and fabulous.

This recipe was adapted from The Essential Mexican Instant Pot Cookbook: Authentic Flavors and Modern Recipes for Your Electric Pressure Cooker bye Deborah Schneider. I used a stove top pressure cooker. I branched out from my comfort zone and used bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs. 😉 I also substituted a Cubanelle for an Anaheim chile and increased the garlic.

We ate it with a green salad. Wonderful!

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tsp saffron threads
  • 2 1/2 to 3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (8 thighs) or 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 3 tsp coarse salt, divided
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 small white or red onion, diced
  • 8 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Cubanelle, Anaheim, or Poblano Chile, stemmed, seeded, and diced
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, cored and diced or one 14-oz can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups long-grain white rice, rinsed and drained (I used Basmati rice)
  • parsley or cilantro, minced, for garnish
  1. In a small saucepan, bring 1/2 cup of the chicken broth to a bare simmer over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the saffron threads to the hot broth and let steep for about 30 minutes.
  3. Season the chicken pieces on all sides with 1 tsp of the salt, the black pepper, and the pepper flakes. (I used a 9×13-inch pyrex dish.)
  4. Heat the oil over medium heat in a pressure cooker or Instant Pot.
  5. Working in batches, add the chicken in a single layer and cook until well browned on both sides, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a large plate.
  6. Add onion, garlic, and diced chile to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 2 minutes, until the onion begins to soften.
  7. Stir in the tomatoes, cumin, smoked paprika, bay leaf, and the remaining 2 tsp salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 2 minutes, until the tomatoes have softened.
  8. Stir in the saffron-infused broth and the remaining 1 cup broth, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot.
  9. Stir in the rice and, using a wooden spoon, gently swirl the rice until it falls in an even layer.
  10. Return the chicken to the pot, arranging the pieces in an even layer, then pour in any accumulated juices.
  11. Secure the lid and seal under pressure, set to meat/stew on an Instant Pot. (I brought my pot up to high (2nd ring) but may reduce to the first ring next time because a lot of the rice was crispy- but delicious- on the bottom of the pot.)
  12. Cook for 20 minutes.
  13. Let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, then move the pressure to venting to release any remaining steam.
  14. Open the pot and let cool for 10 minutes to allow the rice to firm up prior to serving.
  15. Serve garnished with minced herbs, as desired.

Mushroom Tacos with Avocado-Tomatillo Sauce

More tacos to share! I served these full-flavored vegetarian tacos for our Cinco de Mayo celebration this year- with margaritas, chips, and guacamole, of course.

The recipe was adapted from The Essential Mexican Instant Pot Cookbook: Authentic Flavors and Modern Recipes for your Electric Pressure Cooker by Deborah Schneider. I used a stove top pressure cooker instead of an instant pot, but this filling could be prepared just as easily without using a pressure cooker at all. The creamy avocado sauce was amazing!

The original recipe is for “quesotacos” which the author describes as black-belt street cooking, made by browning a layer of cheese right on a griddle, scooping it up with a tortilla, and using that to wrap the filling. I opted to serve the filling over the shredded cheese in a traditional taco form. This wonderful filling is also used in enchiladas in this book. Yum!

Yield: Serves 4 to 6, with about 1 cup of Avocado-Tomatillo sauce

For the Avocado-Tomatillo Sauce:

  • 1 ripe avocado, halved, pitted, and peeled
  • 2 tomatillos, husked and roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup diced white onion
  • 1/2 serrano chile, stemmed (and seeded, if desired)
  • 1 T water
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • leaves from 2 sprigs cilantro, chopped (about 1 T)

For the Mushroom Tacos:

  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1 large white onion, cut into 1-inch dice (2 cups) (I reserved 1/4 cup of the onion for the sauce)
  • 9 garlic cloves, minced (3 T)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 large portobello mushrooms, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 8 to 10 oz cremini mushroom, sliced or cut into quarters
  • 8 to 10 oz white button mushrooms, sliced or cut into quarters
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves or shredded fresh epazote
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 poblano chiles, roasted, seeded, peeled, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 12 corn or corn-wheat tortillas
  • 1 1/4 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese or grated Cojita cheese
  • Avocado-Tomatillo sauce, for serving
  • chopped fresh cilantro, for serving

To Make the Sauce:

  1. In a food processor, combine the avocado, tomatillos, onion, Serrano Chile, water, and salt.
  2. Pulse until fairly smooth, about 10 pulses, scraping down the bowl as needed.
  3. Add the cilantro and pulse a couple of times to combine.
  4. Transfer to a bowl, then taste and adjust seasoning with salt if needed.

Note: The Sauce will keep well for 24 hours, covered and refrigerated.

To Make the Filling:

  1. Place poblano chiles on a foil-lined baking sheet.
  2. Broil the poblano chiles in the oven, rotating every 5 to 7 minutes, until charred and blistered on all sides. (I set my oven to Broil Max at 450F.)
  3. Wrap the chiles in the foil lining, to loosen the charred skin with steam.
  4. When cool enough to handle, peel, seed and dice the roasted chiles.
  5. Heat the oil in a pressure cooker, instant pot, or dutch oven.
  6. Sauté the onions, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until golden brown.
  7. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute.
  8. Add the water, salt, portobello mushrooms, cremini mushrooms, and white mushrooms, then stir in the cilantro/epazote.
  9. If using a pressure cooker or instant pot, secure the lip and cook on high for 1 minute. (Alternatively, cook the mixture in a Dutch oven until mushrooms have released a significant amount of moisture and are lightly browned.)
  10. Use the quick pressure release. (I rotate the valve into a perpendicular position on the top of my pressure cooker.)
  11. Set a colander in a bowl. Pour the mushroom mixture into the colander, reserving the liquid in the bowl.
  12. Set the colander aside and return the liquid to the pot.
  13. Bring the liquid to a boil, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until syrupy and very thick.
  14. Return the mushroom mixture to the pot and stir in the black pepper, pepper flakes, and roasted and diced poblano chiles.
  15. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes, until heated through.
  16. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, as desired.
  17. Serve the mushroom filling in warm tortillas over shredded Monterey Jack and crumbled feta. Top with sauce, minced cilantro, and extra cheese, as desired.

For “Quesotacos”:  Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Lightly oil, place a tortilla in the pan and toast for about 3 minutes, until golden brown. Turn the tortilla and top with 2 T of Jack cheese and 1 T of feta/Cojita. Continue toasting until cheese is melted, about 3 minutes more. Top with mushroom mixture, sauce, sprinkle of cheese, and pinch of cilantro. Serve immediately.

For a Grilled Corn & Mushroom Variation: Add kernels from 2 ears of grilled corn to the pot after adding the roasted poblano chiles.

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