My very close friend, Karen, had her birthday recently and after much back and forth of let’s do dinner Monday, are you free for brunch on Tuesday, how about 10 minute coffee date on Friday, we found an afternoon where we both were free to have lunch. Karen loves lobster so I called my sources for some fresh local lobster tails, but to no avail. Oh no! So I decided to run to the store where I found a couple of gorgeous North Atlantic Lobster Tails. Then I thought, “risotto would be a perfect pairing for these perfect crustaceans.” However, I had about 20 minutes to finish my shopping, get home, and cook a birthday lunch. I grabbed a box of of Creamy Parmesan Risotto, a wedge of parmesan and asiago cheese, a bottle of Pinot Grigio, and got my butt home. There is nothing shameful about a shortcut.
I will be cooking my risotto to the box’s directions with a few of my own additions to kick the flavor up about twelve notches. Begin by putting 1 1/2 teaspoons of both olive oil and salted butter into a large pan or dutch oven over medium high heat. Once the butter is melted add in a tablespoon of garlic paste and stir to combine. You can use a couple of cloves of chopped garlic, but I enjoy the creamy texture that the garlic paste adds to the dish.
Once combined toss in your box of risotto and 2 1/2 cups of water or your favorite broth and combine. Stir in the packet of seasoning and reduce heat to simmer and cook for about 20 minutes. About half way through cooking add in 1/2 cup both fresh grated parmesan cheese and fresh grated asiago cheese, as well as 1/4 cup dry white wine. I like Estancia’s Pinot Grigio. Continue to cook for another 10 minutes, adding 1/4 cup of water or broth as necessary when the rice gets dry or seems to not be cooking.
Remove the risotto from heat once it is al dente and creamy. Add salt and pepper to taste and finish with 1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley and the zest of one large lemon.
While preparing your risotto place two bay leaves, for flavor, into a large pot of water and bring to a rolling boil. The cooking time for your lobster tails will depend on the size; it will take about 1 minute and thirty seconds per ounce. Mine are about 6 oz each, so I will cook them for 9 minutes.
Once your lobster tails are cooked through and are sporting a shell that is a lovely shade of bright red, transfer them to a strainer and allow them to sit until they are cool enough to handle.
While the lobster tails cool they tend to roll up into a ball that can make cutting them particularly difficult. The trick to making lobster easy to handle is to crack the shell with your knife lengthwise so that they lie flat before removing the non-meaty part of the tail.
Now you can cut through the rest of the tail- use your initial crack as guide and butterfly your lobster.
Your lobster should be white completely throughout and not have any debris in it. Remove any waste material that you may find before serving.
Using a fork, remove the meat from the shell in as big of pieces as you can manage. If the lobster does not come away from the shell easily then it is not fully cooked. Throw it back into your boiling water for another minute and try again. Set you lobster pieces aside while you throw together your salad.
This salad is ridiculously easy and utilizes ingredients that you already have from you risotto. The dressing is simply: the juice of one lemon, 1/2 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste.
Drizzle your dressing over your beautiful arugula and toss together until the leaves are all perfectly coated in goodness.
Serve your meal with the lobster draped over the risotto and a healthy serving of the arugula salad on the side. Don’t forget your extra wine as an accompaniment. Total time to whip this meal up was about a half an hour and boy did it taste incredible. No one would ever be able to tell that your risotto came from a box.
The food was wonderful but the company was even better. I was so glad that Karen and I found some time to just eat and gab for her birthday. These last minute one-on-one hang out sessions are always my favorite because you can truly focus on just being there, together, in the present.
I hope that your new year is beginning as beautifully as mine is and that you find time to spend quality time with those that you love the most. I am so happy to have Karen’s birthday lunch as the first post of 2017 and am excited for the recipes I have cooked up for this year. Ciao!
Creamy Asiago Cheese Risotto on the Fly
- 1 box 5.5 oz creamy parmesan risotto
- 1 1/2 tsp good quality olive oil
- 1 1/2 tsp salted butter
- 1 tbsp garlic paste
- 2 1/2 cups of water or favorite broth
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- 1/2 cup asiago cheese, freshly grated
- 1/4 cup dry white wine (Pinto Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc)
- 1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
- Zest of one lemon
In a large pan over medium heat combine olive oil, butter, and garlic paste. Stir. Add box of risotto, water (or broth) and seasoning pouch. Stir to combine and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, and add your cheeses and wine. Continue simmering for 10 more minutes, adding water (or broth) in 1/4 cup increments as the rice dries out. Finish your risotto with chopped parsley, lemon zest, and salt and pepper to taste.
- 2 large 5-6 oz north atlantic lobster tails
- 2 bayleaves in boiling water
Bring large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add two bayleaves to flavor water. Add your lobster tails and cook for 1 minute and 30 seconds per ounce of lobster per tail. Strain lobster and allow to cool until it can be handled. Crack the shell of the tail and remove the end of the tail. Butterfly your lobster and remove any debris that may be inside of the tail. Remove the meat from the shell with a fork.
Arugula Salad with Lemon-Parmesan Dressing
- One bag of baby arugula
- 1/2 cup good quality olive oil
- Juice of one lemon
- 2 tbsp parmesan, freshly grated
- Salt and pepper to taste
In a glass contained combine olive oil lemon, parmesan, and salt and pepper. Drizzle dressing over arugula and toss until the leaves are thoroughly coated.