Lemongrass infused Risotto with summer vegetables, herbs and honey

Lemongrass infused Risotto with summer vegetables, herbs and honey

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There is something about fragrant herbs that send me into a tizzy of happiness. Lemongrass, basil and mint make this heaven, and I wanted to create a recipe that highlighted summer flavors like  corn and tomato which pop out of this dish partnered perfectly with the honey,  I grounded those flavors with earthy and green flavors of the mushrooms and kale. I’m really proud of this dish and even moreso by the complimentary and beneficial components. I think from a neuroscience perspective as I approach foods, I think about how side dishes, condiments and sauces interact with protein, fats and starches to create both a dance of flavors and happy balances with our health and our stress resiliency. I’ll post some links and insight to the health benefits at the end of this article, but here is the recipe for my Lemongrass Risotto with Summer Vegetables.  

Ingredients:  Here’s what you need to collect:

You can get Lemongrass at your local grocer near the herbs or an asian market, boxed or made from scratch vegetable broth, 1 quart water to dilute the broth, 2 garlic cloves, one knuckle fresh or 1 tsp ground ginger, splash pepper sauce or sprinke red pepper flakes, 1 cup Aborio Rice, a chopped shallot , sesame oil, coconut oil, olive oil, 1 bunch kale, 1 package mushrooms, 1 large tomato, 1 ear of corn, handful basil, mint leaves, salt and pepper.

Lemongrass Broth

1 Quart Vegetable Broth

1 Quart Water

2 Cloves GarlicIMG_0191

1 tsp or one knuckle Ginger

2 Stalks Lemon Grass

Smidge of Sriracha or Red Pepper for Spice

Risotto

1 Tbsp Sesame Oil

1 Tbsp Coconut Oil

1 cup Arborio Rice

1 Shallot

Put 1 Tbsp and half worth of Coconut and Sesame Oil and one shallot in pan. Heat then add to toast rice, approx 3 minutes. Slowly add warm broth by the half cup, stirring, reducing and adding more as you go, approx 2 cups.

Kale and MushroomsMushrooms and kale

Salt, Garlic Ginger, Pepper

Olive or Sesame Oil

Vinegar (apple cider)

Put Kale and Mushrooms in a saute pan with sesame oil, garlic, ginger, salt and pepper.  On medium to medium-high heat, add vinegar to deglaze and moisten, reduce till crispy (you can turn to med-high towards end for extra crispy).

Tomato and Corn205-0554_IMG

1 Fresh Tomato

1 cooked Ear of Corn

Using a sharp knife slide down the side of corn to remove kernals and chop into individual kernals. Slice tomatoes and chop into small squares. Salt generously.

Mint and Basil

5-6 Leaves of mint

Handful of fresh Basil

Slice Mint and Basil into thin slivers

Honey

2 Tbsp local Honey

In a large mixing bowl or in the large pot used to cook rice combine all ingredients; Risotto, kale & mushrooms, tomato & corn, basil & mint, and mix in 1 tsp up to 2 Tbsp of local honey. Salt and pepper, spice and sweeten to taste.

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Health Information:

Lemongrass is an amazing aromatic plant.  You may be most familiar with its pesticide properties as it is a grass most known to contain Citronella, like your Citronella candles. So it’s a great plant for your garden to control pests! Lemongrass has also been shown in studies to reduce inflammation in the colon.  Just the smell of this herb sends me into a state of relaxation bliss, and studies show that this is every bit of what lemongrass can do, calm the system, improve your sleep and your stress resililence. It’s a great herb to infuse into broths and teas and a wonderful addition to your garden and summer pest control garden arsenal!

Fresh Basil, the smell, the flavor, the complete and totally mind-numbing ecstatic wonderfulness of this plant can not be over-stated.  And not only is it pleasurable to your brain just with having that lovely plant on your windowsill (I regard mine as my favorite pet), its a plant that constantly gives back.  With it’s aroma it can revive you and with its flavor can improve and protect your heart and brain! That’s a plant and friend worth keeping around! So give it a whiff of gratitude every morning like I do, gently and lovingly ask it’s permission to snip some leaves to keep it growing strong so you can add it to everything!

Piperine (fresh ground pepper), is one of the oldest spices known to man. A multipurpose seasoning that wars have been fought over. The way I see it, ancient spices created a foundation for us to make better use of foods and get nutrients processed out of them more effectively.  That’s why we see so many diverse impacts and benefits from spices, like pepper, including an intimate relationship to buffer stress and increasing nutrient absorption through the intestines.

Benefits of piperine like improving blood pressure, reducing oxidative stress (of a high fat meal), protection for the liver and from obesity, makes the advice from chefs to never forget your seasoning for flavor, worth listening to just as much for your health! Tell me how good pepper tastes now….

Honey is another important food and condiment for centuries of our existance.  So naturally it would be a prominant player as a protectant and nutrient benefit.  Hence we find lots of studies and associations with health and stress resiliency.  I wrote an article on my science blog about the comparison made between High Fructose Corn Syrup and Honey, since they both have fructose as a main ingredient. However, that’s an “active ingredient” point of view. Honey has many phytonutrients and polyphenols that protect our health. So, HFCS is associated with diabetes while honey is shown to be preventative or as part of treatment for diabetes, even though the fructose, the suggested causative factor, is the same. That’s where an interactive approach, rather than a “active ingredient” point of view makes such a difference!  And  this is a great reason to substitute these natural sweeteners whenever you can for table sugar or corn syrup.  When a recipe calls for this sweetness try to substitute completely or at least in part of the quantity called for with molasses, honey, or maple syrup.

Salt. The history of salt is older than we are.  And it certainly didn’t begin with what we know as “Table Salt” or almost straight sodium chloride (NaCl). Wars were fought, countries built and bodies evolved with and may even be a major reason how we evolved, with salt.  Your regular table salt is a mix of sodium chloride and then fillers, stabilizers and iodine. Whereas natural salts have a biomix of any number of minerals (may not technically be 84, article from Livestrong on benefits of interacting minerals and macronutrients). We could say these amounts are so small as to not impact or more than brush up against our daily recommends. But that’s not what it’s always about. Sometimes those small players interact and change the impact of the other nutrients and minerals they like to dance with! So don’t mess with salt, don’t sprinkle too much of the reduced to sodium variety and mix it up and sprinkle to your taste to enhance and benefit your food and body!

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