Basmati risotto with french lentils, roasted mushrooms and spinach

Basmati and french lentil risotto

Basmati and french lentil risotto

For as long as I can remember, Isaac has asked for one thing (well, he’s asked for lots of things–this boy loves toys!). But his highly detailed and elaborately illustrated wish lists for birthdays and christmas have always included one particular toy: a caped Boba Fett. Did he see one, once, when he was very little, a vision of the perfect Star Wars guy, the very model of a model of a modern masked intergalactic bounty hunter, who will live in his memory forever? I don’t know. The point is that he’s never gotten one, but he never stops asking for it. It’s become a sort of quest, the elusive image of a perfect toy. A guy who can move his arms and legs, and has armor, and has a jet pack and has a cape. (A jet pack and a cape? Kids, don’t try this at home.) Isaac’s not an easily disappointed boy, he’s always happy with whatever presents he does get. The whole thing isn’t ruined because he didn’t get a caped Boba Fett. But he keeps asking. And if we ever saw a caped Boba Fett, we’d get it for him, and we’d be happy that he’s happy. But for now, I like the idea of Isaac not having caped Boba Fett. I like the idea that he could get it someday, it’s an event to anticipate, it’s a happy possibility. Maybe we all need a caped Boba Fett in our lives. Some pleasant perfect thing we’d really like, though can live without. Something to look for in our travels, to daydream about, to look forward to having some day. By the time we find caped Boba Fett, we might all actually have jet packs and morally-ambiguous grey green armor, but until then, we can dream, and Isaac will keep asking, he’ll keep putting caped Boba Fett on his list.



I had some leftover cooked french lentils and french lentil-cooking broth. I thought it would be nice to make risotto, sort of a comforting mujadara-type rice and lentil dish. Well, I didn’t have arborio rice, so I thought I’d try it with basmati instead, fully aware that it would never be as creamy and soft as the traditional type. I made basmatto. I used a combination of lentil-cooking broth and water blended with baby spinach as broth. I roasted mushrooms separately, and tossed them in at the end, so they didn’t become mushy and slimy. This was a very savory, tasty, meaty, satisfying meal. Good comfort on a cold day, and easy to make, too.

Here’s Boba Fett’s theme from the Star Wars soundtrack. Described by Wikipedia as “not music, exactly” … but “more of a gurgly, viola-and-bassoon thing aurally cross-pollinated with some obscure static sounds.” Yeah.

French lentils made like this, including broth (Use about 5 or 6 cups water to make the lentils so you’ll have plenty of broth)
Mushrooms roasted like this. I chopped mine in the food processor so they were quite fine, but you can chop them by hand and leave them chunkier if you like.
2 T butter
1 shallot, minced
1 plump clove garlic, minced
2 t fresh rosemary, minced
1 cup basmati rice
1/2 cup white wine
2 cups baby spinach, washed
pinch nutmeg
salt & pepper
teaspoon balsamic
grated smoked gouda, to serve

In a large deep skillet over medium heat, warm the butter. Add the garlic, shallot and rosemary, and fry for a few minutes until the garlic is browned slightly and the butter is bubbly. Add the rice, stir to coat, add 1 1/2 cups cooked lentils, stir to coat. Cook for a few minutes, and then add the white wine. Cook till the wine is reduced and syrupy, a few minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the baby spinach with about 1 cup of water in a processor or blender, and process very briefly till you have water flecked with roughly chopped spinach.

When the pan dries out, add about 1/2 cup of lentil cooking broth, stir frequently, and cook till the pan dries out again. This time add the spinach & water mixture, stir to combine and cook till the pan dries out, a few minutes. Keep alternating broth and spinach and cooking till the pan dries out, a few minutes each time. Keep this up until the rice is cooked as you like it. I like it a bit toothsome or al dente, so I think it took about 25 minutes. The final time, you can cook till the pan is dry, or leave it sort of soupy and saucy, which is how we ate it. Stir in a teaspoon of balsamic, a pinch of nutmeg, and salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper. Stir in the roasted mushrooms. Serve with grated smoked gouda cheese, if you like.


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