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Asparagus Risotto with Goat Cheese

July 9, 2012

Our week on Inis Meáin was amazing. We quickly developed a routine, where we would let Serafina sleep in, have a breakfast of tea and fresh bread with nutella, then head out on a hike. The weather was in the low sixties with brief showers that disappeared as soon as they arrived. The sun rose at 4 am and set at midnight, so the possibilities for a day were endless. Although the island is small, we found a new place to visit each morning. From Dún Chonchúir (Fort Conor) to the beaches, we found a myriad of reasons to explore the various paths. Serafina developed the habit of asking us “Carry You?” Taking advantage of her mistaking the pronoun, we would feign ignorance, and then ask her to look for the bunny/cat/sheep/goat/horse/donkey/cow/chicken around the corner.

We spent much of our time reflecting on the life on Inis Meáin. A hundred years ago the controversial playright and poet J.M. Synge lived on the island. He famously published his journal from his years on the island, which in the end angered the residents. Describing them as savage and a dying breed, much akin to early misgivings of anthropologists, Synge’s ethnocentricism is striking. We read some of his writings, and they truly were egotistical. Our own reflections looked at the people on Inis Meáin as normal people, who were friendly and kind. Although it is magical in the summer, we could imagine that the winter, with little sun and the whipping wind, could be a challenge. The basic task of getting supplies to the island becomes near impossible due to the moody Atlantic hitting Galway Bay. For this reason, I consider the people on Inis Meáin strong and independent, but I also can understand their dedication to their beautiful home.

Synge’s Cottage, where he stayed on the island

After a two hour walk, we would go home and enjoy cheese sandwiches with various veggies, then Serafina would hunker down for her marathon nap. Forced to sit inside the cottage for her nap, we would enjoy reading by the fire or taking naps. Upon waking, Serafina would need to say hello to all her friends in the animal world, so we would head out for a shorter walk.

For dinner, we cooked almost every night. Although there are several pubs and restaurants on the island, most opened after Serafina’s bedtime and there were few vegetarian options. I actually enjoyed the process of trying to make simple meals out of few ingredients. It really showed me how much I over-purchase at home and that if I bought less, but improved the quality, we could still eat well. One of the nicest parts of cooking dinner was our guests.

The two hens, named “Sheep” and “Goat” by Serafina, joined us the minute we left the house. Afraid of missing out on the fun, they often jumped in the window to watch me cook. This would get Serafina shrieking with joy “chick-ENS!”

Below is the risotto I made inspired by my meal at The Farm. It was fantastically delicious, and I recommend trying this. Feel free to play with the ingredients, this is a bit of an estimation of what I did.

Asparagus Risotto with Goat Cheese

  • 3 asparagus stems, sliced 1/2 inch
  • 1 carrot, sliced 1/2 inch
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup of onion, minced
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp of sea salt
  • 2 cups of arborio rice
  • 4- 5 cups of vegetable broth (or water)
  • 1/4 cup of finely chopped parsley
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • fresh goat cheese roll

1. Preheat oven 400

2. In a baking dish add asparagus, carrots, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper with a generous amount of olive oil. Bake for 7-10 minutes. Stir, and continue baking for a minute or two until the asparagus is cooked through.

3. Meanwhile, add olive oil and rice to a saute pan and turn the stovetop up to medium. Slightly brown the rice. Lower the heat, then add in a cup of veggie broth and stir it in. Repeat this until the rice is soft and and creamy.

4. Add in the parsley and roasted veggies

5. When plating, put a slice or two of goat cheese on the bottom of a shallow bowl, add risotto, then add two more slices of goat cheese, and top with more black or red pepper

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