Thursday, September 6, 2012

Roasted Garden Vegetable Saffron Baked Risotto

When we were in Greece this summer, I came across a spice store which sold powdered saffron. Saffron comes from a crocus flower and is usually very expensive when purchased as threads, but the powdered version was, to my surprise, very inexpensive. I've never cooked with saffron before so I'm not 100% sure if there is any taste difference, but as you can see, the powdered version still gave this dish that vibrant, yellow color saffron is known for. 

This recipe was actually inspired by a recent recipe I saw for an Eggplant, Mozzarella and Saffron Rice Bake in the most recent copy of Bon Appetit Magazine. Of course, I had to make it my own, but I loved the idea of using up some of my garden vegetables, not to mention I haven't made a risotto in a while either! Not only was it beautiful with the purple, green, red and yellow from the fresh vegetables, it was so aromatic and delicious...a wonderful meatless Monday dinner idea as well. 

Roasted Garden Vegetable Saffron Baked Risotto (Inspired by Bon Appetit)
1 Eggplant, washed and cut into 1" chunks
1 Large Zucchini, washed and cut into 1" chunks
1 c. Cherry Tomatoes
1/2 Red Onion, cut into 1" chunks
3 Garlic Cloves, chopped
1 tbsp. + Drizzle Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 c. Arborio Rice
1 c. White Wine
2 c. Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
1 tsp. Saffron, powered (or a pinch of the thread type)
1 c. Reduced Fat Mozzarella, shredded
1/2 c. Parmigiano Reggiano, shredded
Kosher Salt, to taste
Fresh Ground Black Pepper, to taste


Directions:
1. In a bowl, mix together the eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, onion and garlic; then drizzle some oil on top and season with salt and pepper. 
2. Transfer vegetables to a baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until the vegetables start to soften and lightly brown (the tomatoes will start to burst). Remove from oven and set aside. 
3. While the vegetables are roasting, heat 1 tbsp. oil in a non-stick saute pan and add the rice. Allow to brown for 2-3 minutes, then add the wine and saffron. 
4. Allow the liquid to evaporate, then add in one cup of the chicken broth at a time, allowing the liquide to evaporate after each addition. The rice will still be slightly hard. 
5. Add in the vegetables and cheeses and mix well. 
6. Place in a 9"x9" baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Serves 9. 

Enjoy! 


*Saffron Threads can be purchased at your local Gourmet Grocery Store or online at specialty shops like The Spice & Tea Exchange. Saffron Powder can be found online through Amazon. 

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