You know when someone is describing a person you've never met, and they're like "Not only is she GORGEOUS, but she's hilarious, is an operatic singer, doctor, and a philanthropist!" (Or something equivalent)? I feel that way about this dinner sitch. It's kind of the Kristen Bell of dinners, in my humble opinion. It's super fresh, and bright; it's got a lot going on, but it's also pretty mellow and easy going (it's married to Dax Shepard, after all!), and underneath all that, IT'S RICH-- metaphorically. Wink.
This dish is simultaneously simple and comforting, while still managing to eek out a little elegance along the way. I got these insane, purple scallions at Agua Dulce Farm (more on that below), that sincerely made me question whether every other scallion I've ingested in this lifetime has been total, or just partial garbage. JK, but they're equal parts spicy, herbaceous, and sweet. That's like, 3 flavor profiles packed into one vegetable, so color me impressed. I've been throwing them in everything socially acceptable- most notably, this lemony, scallion compound butter. Half of this gets spread on the cod, and the other half gets cozy with the veggies. In vintage Martha's words: It's a good thing.
Where the whole aforementioned Kristin Bell metaphor comes into play is underneath all this scallion-buttery goodness, with our risotto. I grew up on this exact risotto, and it's the most delicious, dreamy, blank canvas of a risotto on which to lay your hopes, dreams, and whatever else you may please. Listen- I know there's a lot of bullshit risotto propaganda going around. Word on the street is that it's super difficult, high maintenance, and you guys, FAKE NEWS. Frankly, one of my first cooking memories is standing at the stove sauteing shallots, and stirring broth into risotto, so if my 8 year old ass could handle it, chances are, it's not that hard. Let's hop to it, shall we?
Preheat your oven to 375F, and make your scallion butter. In either a bowl, or if you're like me and feel like saving those lil' wrists of yours, in a food processor, add your room temperature butter, scallions, lemon zest and juice, parsley, and pulse or mix until combined. Divide in half, and set aside. If you're making this is advance, spoon onto parchment paper, and refrigerate. Remove from the fridge about an hour before you're ready to use to allow it to come up to room temperature so it's easier to distribute.
To a sheet pan, add your beets and carrots, and season with a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and add from one half of your compound butter, add all but 2 tbs butter to your veggies. The remaining 2 tbs is for the mushrooms, which we'll add when we flip the beets and carrots halfway through cooking. Speaking of, 20 minutes into cooking, remove your sheet pan from the oven, tossing your beets and carrots, and adding your mushrooms, along with your reserved 2 tbs compound butter. Scoot the vegetables over to one half of the pan (if you're using a large baking sheet, if not, just grab a second sheet pan), and add your cod, on a piece of parchment paper large enough to make a parcel around the fish while it's cooking, and season with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Spread the remaining half of your scallion butter on your cod, wrap up your package, and return to oven for 20 minutes.
While your fish and veggies are cooking, we just so happen to have the perfect risotto time slot. Heat your broth until it comes to a boil, and drop the heat to medium-high. To a large saute pan, or dutch oven, add a little butter and olive oil, and saute your shallots until they begin to become translucent, and add your garlic, along with your dry Arborio rice, and saute for a minute more, giving your rice a slight toast. Deglaze with your wine, add a sprinkle of salt, and continue to stir often. After your wine has reduced slightly, add a couple ladles of your boiling broth, and continue to stir gently until the rice has absorbed a majority, but not all of the broth, and add more ladles of broth until it is barely covering the rice mixture. Repeat the process until all of the broth is absorbed into the rice, usually about 20 minutes. Remove the risotto from the heat, add your butter, and parmigiano reggiano. Taste for seasoning, and add salt and pepper. Serve with even more parm, because duh.
Remove your cod and veggies from the oven, and allow the fish to rest for just a couple minutes. To serve, spoon a big bed of risotto into a shallow bowl, and add your cod, surrounded by your roasted veggies, and garnish with whatever fresh herbs you have available. I had some gorgeous beet micro greens I picked up at the farmer's market, along with some basil, which was a seriously delicious accompaniment to everything, including the risotto. Speaking of which- I really hope that one makes its way into your handy dinnertime arsenal. It's so customize-able. Add a chopped porcini mushrooms along with your shallots at the beginning of cooking, or a big dollop of pesto at the end. Don't even get me started on making this during tomato season. That's both a threat, and a promise.
In concluzhe, a note on a more personal level (If you're not here for that, feel free to scroll down for the recipe). These past few weeks have been exhausting- full of lots of life's many wonderful anomalies, and I won't lie to you, it left me feeling anxious. I needed a switch-up, and boy, did I ever find a good one.
Last week, I did a new thing that was, at first glance, out of comfort zone, but also seemingly in my wheelhouse. I had my first day of volunteering at Agua Dulce Farm, and let me tell you, it was beyond inspiring. I first found them at the SFC Farmer's Market here in Austin, and ended up picking up the gorgeous beets, and beet micro greens used in this dish. After gently stalking them on Insta, and seeing they needed volunteers, I jumped at the chance to get in on learning how to grow some seriously pretty produce. The experience of actually getting my hands dirty at the farm made me feel even more connected to my food, and sincerely lit a fire inside me to learn the ins and outs of growing produce to one day put into practice when I have a little land of my own. Walking into the greenhouse Monday on that crisp morning felt like a serious breath of fresh air. Huge beds of water filled the space, and atop the water were planters (Fully using all the wrong terminology here- farm newb, party-o-one), containing various greens at all stages of the growing process, as far as you could see. I spent the morning harvesting, transplanting, and processing some seriously gorgeous greens- some of which I'd never even heard of, and chatting with other volunteers, and farmers about their dreams of growing their own produce one day. It made me feel so happy, inspired, and reconnected to certain aspects of why I'm obsessed with food. It was kind of a gift, and I just wanted to touch on it a little bit here.
With that, I sincerely wish you a bright start to the week, full of some serious inspo in all you set out to make and do.
Scallion Butter Roasted Cod + Root Veggies With My Parents' Classic Risotto
For the Scallion Compound Butter
12 tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
4 scallions, whites and greens sliced
Zest of 1 lemon, plus 2 tbs lemon juice
Salt & pepper to taste
For the Cod
1 lb Fresh cod filet
6 tbs scallion butter
Sprinkle of salt & pepper
For the Vegetables
6 carrots, peeled and halved if small, if large, quarter
6 beets, peeled and quartered
1 1/2 cups mushrooms of choice
6 tbs scallion butter
Sprinkle of salt & pepper
For the Risotto
1 cup Arborio rice
1 tbs each butter & olive oil for the shallots & garlic
2 small shallots, minced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup dry white wine
About 6 cups chicken broth
1 cup Parmigiano Reggiano (plus more to serve)
2 tbs butter
Salt & pepper to taste