I'm writing you from the comfort of a cozy couch in Thomas' childhood home in Norway. It's 8:30 AM and it's still pitch black dark outside - However the snow covering the ground and trees illuminates the sky, the Christmas tree is twinkling, and the wood burning stove is providing maximum coziness. We arrived yesterday at 11:30 AM after traveling for over 30 hours from Portland to Orlando and then finally landing in Oslo. Sitting here now the sleep deprivation is 100% worth it. Being from Florida, I am use to Christmas being over 75 degrees and going outside in teeshirts and shorts - so this white Christmas is a whole new phenomenon to me.
The past two times that I've been to Norway our schedules are always packed every-day with side trips, visits with friends, and a constant rotation of activities which I normally love. However, this trip is total opposite and we have NOTHING planned which is a breath of fresh air. We are so excited to relax, visit with family, and do things as they come-up. Obviously a lot of good food is the only thing secured on our agenda. I'm so excited for Norwegian Christmas food like pinnekjøtt, ribbe, kålrabisteppe, and washing it all down with Akevitt. Don't worry, I'll post pictures of all of that so you don't have to Google it!
With all of this cold weather, I have been loving comforting dishes like this steel-cut out "risotto". I am obsessed with this recipe because it's healthier and more fibrous than the traditional rice-y version. I got the inspiration from Cookie and Kate and jazzed mine up with fennel and delicata squash. SO filling, SO creamy & rich, SO good.
I hope everyone gets to spend the next few days with your loved ones and filling your bellies with lots of yummy things!
Steel-Cut Oat "Risotto"
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium red onion, chopped
- 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced
- 1 small (2 pounds) delicata squash or any other squash variation
- 1 teaspoon salt, divided, more to taste
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- 4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- 1 ½ cups Quaker Steel-Cut Oats
- 2 packed cups chopped kale, ribs removed (about ½ bunch)
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 5 cups water
- ¾ cup (1 ¾ ounces) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
What to do
- In a medium Dutch oven or soup pot, warm the olive oil until shimmering. Add the onion, fennel, squash, ½ teaspoon of the salt, and the red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring often, until the onion and fennel are translucent and the squash is mostly tender, about 8 to 10 minutes.
- Add the garlic and stir to combine. Add the oats and kale and cook, stirring often, until the kale has mostly wilted, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and use a wooden spoon or silicone spatula to scrape up any browned bits that have formed against the bottom of the pan. Cook, while stirring, for another 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add the water and remaining ½ teaspoon salt. Raise the heat to high and bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Once simmering, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is very creamy and thick, about 20 to 30 minutes. As time goes on, you might need to stir more frequently and reduce the heat to prevent scorching the bottom.
- Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the Parmesan, butter, lemon juice and several twists of black pepper. Let the risotto rest for 5 minutes before serving. Once you’re ready to serve, season generously with additional salt (I usually add at least ¼ teaspoon), and black pepper. Add an extra squeeze of lemon juice if it needs an extra boost of flavor. Divide into bowls and serve.