As a kid, I had major issues about my foods touching each other. As in, everything-has-its-own-spot-on-my-plate-and-if-they-touch-even-slightly-I-will-cry, kind of issues. In hindsight, my parents could have saved themselves a lot of trouble if they had just served me each item on a separate plate altogether; there would have been far less meltdowns at our dinner table.
As an adult, however, I’m a lover of meals served in bowls, with ingredients layered over top of each other, and I find myself making bowl-friendly meals more often than not. Soups are restricted no more than twice a week, or my husband will begin to complain, as he is more of a knife-and-fork meals kind of guy. When I can’t have soup, one-pot meals are a favorite, as are casseroles that can be scooped into bowls, with spoons and forks serving as equally qualified options for eating.
When I’m feeling slightly more ambitius, dinner will look something like this. It starts with a base, something creamy like a basic risotto, or you could go with polenta as well. Top it with vegetables, preferably some that have been roasted to the point of browned crispiness, aka, the best possible way to eat them. (To date, I have not yet found a vegetable that I don’t love after it’s been roasted in the oven and comes out with crispy edges.) The key to finishing off any bowl is to top it with a poached egg. Always. There are few foods that aren’t made better by the broken yolk mixed in. These are just facts people.
Risotto with Roasted Asparagus and Poached Egg
I typically mix some water into my vegetable broth so that the flavors don’t overtake the risotto. However, if you have a broth you love (especially if it’s homemade), you can use all broth, without any water. I typically start with about 4 cups of liquid simmering on the stove, but if you’re risotto isn’t softening up, you can always add a little more as you go.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup arborio rice
1 small or 1/2 large yellow onion, diced
1/2 cup dry white wine
3-4 cups vegetable broth + 1-2 cups water (combined)
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 lb asparagus
Splash of white vinegar
For the Asparagus:
Cut off the ends from the asparagus, and lay out on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss evenly to coat. Roast at 400 degrees F for about 25 minutes, turning occasionally, until the asparagus has started to brown around the edges and become crisp.
To Poach the Eggs:
Fill a small pot with a few inches of water and a splash of white vinegar and bring to a simmer. Crack the eggs individually into small dishes. Swirl the water in the pot with a spatula to create a whirlpool of sorts, and gently pour an egg into the center. Cook for about 4 minutes, or until the egg is set up and firm to the touch when lifted out with a slotted spoon. Transfer to a plate with paper towels to absorb the excess liquid, and continue to cook the other egg.
For the Risotto:
Heat the olive oil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add the onion and saute for about 1-2 minutes, or until they have softened. Add the rice and saute for another minute or two more, just to lightly toast the grains. Add in the white wine, and stir frequently until the rice has absorbed most of the wine.
Meanwhile, combine the broth and water into a sauce pan and bring to a simmer. One ladle at a time, add the broth to the rice and stir frequently until it has been absorbed. The idea here is to slowly draw out the starches of the rice in order to make it creamy. Continue adding the broth, tasting the rice right before adding the next ladle. You want the rice to be slightly firm but not crunchy in any way. Once it’s at the right consistency, I like to add a little more broth and then turning off the heat while stirring in. This prevents the risotto from becoming too thick.
Stir in the parmesan cheese, and portion the risotto out into two bowls. Layer with roasted asparagus (or other veggies) and a poached egg. I love some cracked black pepper and a sprinkle of parmesan over top, but that’s up to you.