We're celebrating Meatless Mondays with balanced, delicious meal plans. We hope you'll join us -- whether you're vegetarian all the time or just here and there.
Today: Your personal Monday night holiday party.
Though we can guarantee that this meal will come together in under one hour, we can't say it's going to be the most relaxing hour of your life. You're going to give a fennel bulb a haircut, you're going to manage three hot pans, and you're going to make homemade grenadine.
But what's waiting for you on the other side is going to make all that chopping, stirring, and shaking worthwhile: a nutty, slight-sweet risotto and a refeshing, tart drink to cut the richness. With a meal this elegant and festive, you'll feel like you're having your own personal Monday night holiday party.
And now that you have a jar of grenadine in your fridge and a bottle of Aperol in your liquor cabinet, you can make Shirley Temple Blacks all week long.
Substitute the chicken broth with vegetable stock in order to make this a vegetarian dish.
1 cup pomegranate juice
1 1/2 cups farro
1 large apple
1 fennel bulb
1/2 cup white wine
3 cups apple cider
3 cups vegetable broth
1 medium sweet onion
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
7 cups soda water
6 tablespoons Aperol or Campari
2 tablespoons freshly pressed lime juice
1/2 cup chèvre
1/3 cup toasted walnuts
1 1/2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
You probably have sugar, olive oil, butter, and garlic on hand. If not, you'll be needing those ingredients, too.
1. Make the homemade grenadine: In a container with a tight-fitting lid, combine pomegranate juice with 1 cup of sugar. Shake until the sugar has dissolved, then store in the fridge.
2. Rinse the farro and get it soaking in cold water. Chop the apple and the fennel. Get out 1 large sauté pan and 2 saucepans.
3. In the sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon each of butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the apple and fennel. Season with salt and cook for 20 minutes. When everything is tender and brown, deglaze the pan with 1/4 cup of the wine and scrape up any brown bits.
4. Meanwhile, add the broth and apple cider to saucepan one. Maintain on a low simmer as you cook the risotto.
5. In saucepan two (yes, you are now using 3 burners!), sauté the chopped onion with a tablespoon of olive oil for 10 minutes, until tender and translucent, then add 2 cloves of minced garlic and cook another minute. Add the drained farro and stir. After 2 minutes, pour in another 1/4 cup of white wine and cook until most of the liquid is absorbed.
6. For the next 30 minutes, add the cider/broth mixture to the farro by the ladelful. Stir and cook after each addition until most of the liquid is absorbed. Repeat until farro is cooked to your desired doneness.
7. When you add the last ladelful of the liquid, add the caramelized apples and fennel, fennel seeds, orange zest, Parmesan, and a pat of butter. Stir and season.
8. Combine soda water, Aperol or Campari, and lime juice with 4 tablespoons of your homemade grenadine. Stir gently to mix, then divide between four glasses, each with a few ice cubes.
9. Put the farro in a serving dish and top with crumbled chèvre, chopped walnuts, and parsley. Light some candles -- this dinner is reason enough to celebrate.
Photos by James Ransom