Hot Italian Sausage and Roasted Pepper Risotto

So I’ve started watching this new TV show called The Last Man on Earth.

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At first the show really depressed me. I mean, it is kind of sad to think about a virus killing everyone off and then being the one person who’s left. All those lonely nights, right? But I guess having your choice of any car, any home, any ANYTHING would be pretty sweet. Who needs running water when you’ve got all the outfits?

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Of course, (spoiler alert), it turns out he’s not the last person on earth. He’s since met two women so, I think we know where this show is going. In the meantime, they’re giving us a real glimpse into how to survive in an abandoned world.

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In the second episode, they made meatballs out of raisins. I don’t know about all that, but I do know this dish is better than raisin meatballs.

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What You Need:

  • 1 pound red, yellow, orange and/or green bell peppers, seeded and sliced in half
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, divided
  • 3 large links hot Italian sausage, cut into slices (I always pull off the casings but that’s just me.)
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded if desired to reduce spiciness, and diced
  • 1 cup arborio (risotto) rice
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 4 oz. firmer goat cheese for serving

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What You Do:

Preheat oven to 350F

Lay the peppers out on a baking sheet in a single layer and bake for about 20 minutes or until roasted (the skin will be pinched and they may have blackened or caramelized around the edges).

When the peppers are done, chop roughly and set aside.

In a medium skillet, heat 1 tbsp of the coconut oil and, when warm, add the sausage and cook, turning frequently to heat all sides.

While the sausage is cooking, heat the other tablespoon of coconut oil in a large frying pan and add the onion, garlic and jalapeno, sauteing and stirring frequently until onion is soft and translucent.

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Add the risotto and mix well.

Add one cup vegetable broth and stir constantly, keeping the dish on a simmer, until the broth has evaporated. Continue adding the broth one cup at a time until it has all absorbed or evaporated.

Mix in the salt and pepper.

Drain excess liquid from the sausage pan and blot out the sausage on paper towels if you like it less greasy like me.

Add the sausage and roasted peppers to the risotto and stir well.

Top with goat cheese. Enjoy!

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Gourmet Beet and Black Bean Burgers

I feel like it’s tough to be a person who loves beets.

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When I decide to open up about my feelings, people typically take the opportunity to let me know that they couldn’t disagree more.

“They taste like dirt,” I’m told.

Well I guess I must like eating dirt. Because I canNOT get enough of beets and their stain-red goodness.

Because this is a cooking blog and you probably wouldn’t get much enjoyment out of a post about me eating beets and goat cheese in front of the TV, I realized I had to up my beet game.

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So this isn’t a beet smoothie recipe, and it’s not a how-to guide for eating cooked beets topped with goat cheese on a cracker while watching How I Met Your Mother.

No, this recipe is a fabulous mix of black beans, goat cheese, oatmeal and spices that is so tasty even my husband (who wasted no time letting me know his less-than-favorable feelings about beets) is eating them.

What You Need:

  • 2 large beets peeled and grated (about 2 cups total)
  • 1 cup steel-cut oatmeal (gluten free if you wish)
  • 1 12oz can black beans drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 jalapeno, sliced (optional)
  • 4oz creamy goat cheese
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp ground basil leaves or fresh basil finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

What You Do:

Place the oatmeal, black beans, onion, shallot, garlic, jalapeno and spices in a food processor and pulse until just mixed. You don’t want to puree it but make sure all ingredients are combined and it has a good texture.

In a large bowl, knead the mixture (with a spoon or your hands), gradually adding in the goat cheese and beets.

Keep mixing until everything is combined.

At this point, it should have a thick consistency and stick together very well.

In a large skillet, heat your oil on medium.

Form the beet mixture into burger-shaped patties (about 3/4-inch thick) and place into the oil. They should sizzle when placed in the pan.

Let the patties cook about 1.5 minutes on each side, or until they get crispy on the outside. Add a bit more oil if they stick at all to the pan.

I served my beet burgers on lightly toasted Ciabatta with a slice of tomato, 2 thin avocado slices and a bed of lettuce.

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Of course, no burger is complete without a succulent sauce to pour on top. It took me a bit to come up with a good sauce option that would pair well with beets, but I actually came up with a few (below). If you don’t want to spend extra time making a sauce, go into your fridge. BBQ sauce works great, as does salad dressing – I recommend a roasted red pepper, Italian or balsamic dressing.

  • Plain Greek Yogurt with Dill: Simply take a half cup of yogurt, dice about a tablespoon of fresh dill, and mix. Dollop onto burgers before serving.
  • Herbed Goat Cheese Sauce: Mash 4oz creamy goat cheese in a bowl (you might have leftover cheese from the burger recipe). Bring 1 cup milk, 1 tsp ground basil, 1 tsp garlic and a dash of salt and pepper to a boil in a small saucepan. Pour milk mixture over mashed cheese and stir until combined. Re-boil the entire sauce, stirring until thickened. Pour about a tablespoon over burger and toppings.
  • Ginger Chili Crema: (Alert: This takes a long time). Heat (but don’t boil) 1 cup heavy cream in a small saucepan. Pour into a glass jar with a tightly-fitting lid and add 1 tbsp buttermilk. Let sit for up to 24 hours until cream thickens. Stir in 1 tsp ground ginger and 2 tbsp diced chilies. Reseal the lid and refrigerate for 24 hours. Stir well before dolloping on your burger.

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