Below that golden-brown top layer of a Faux Risotto you'll find all those morsels necessary for delicious comfort and nourishment, just as below our own surface we sometimes find that stillness that helps us regroup and experience some peace and reflection.
There are days when observations and experiences long to tumble out of my inner being-ness with such gusto and enthusiasm that I can barely contain them.
It's like they're looking to be shared and taken in by others, like they're looking for new homes—new vessels—to attach themselves to and spread their information, and “stir the waters” of another's inner life so that they can make a difference in as many other consciousnesses as possible.
There are times when my soul is so alive and awakened by something I've just “tasted” or understood, that I cannot wait to put fingers to keyboard to share the lesson (or the even the questions) that something has stirred up in me, and there's an electricity that zips through and invigorates, and longs to be released out into the world.
And then there are those quiet days, like today, when the inner waters are glass-like and seem to barely have a ripple.
They seem to be the calm, smooth surface covering over a world below that is moving at a slower, sleepier pace, one where some type of almost-invisible mending or even barely-noticeable growth is silently occurring without me even being aware that it is.
Sometimes, silence can be disconcerting.
And often, we try our best to mask it by busying ourselves and talking through it when really, we should be honoring it and listening.
When the soul is quiet, it can make one feel that there isn't much movement happening within, not much change or renewal taking place.
Ah…but quite the opposite is true.
In life, we need those quiet times to digest and process all that we have been living through, to allow our experiences to swim around in our inner being and be contemplated, without being rushed or over-analyzed, or talked over.
Retreating into the quiet below the surface when it's there, is a time when we can gather ourselves and check in to see how we feel about things and what our longings are going forward.
And there is much warm comfort to be found in the quietness below the surface, like there is flavor and wholesomeness—nourishment—to be found below the top layer of a Faux Risotto that is full of richness, crisp vegetables, and exquisite flavor and comforting texture.
All we need is the willingness to simply dive in and enjoy the stillness and peace, the taste of what we find there, and know that it is enough, and exactly what is needed at the moment.
Each of us need that safe, quiet place just below the surface to be available to us to retreat to and to immerse ourselves in every now and again; it’s where growth and change is happening, albeit ever-so quietly and almost-invisibly.
Life is vibrant and invigorating enough—buzzy and wild—all the other times, so cherishing those moments when we can retreat into a quiet and still place is a gift, and more than OK…it's necessary.
Taste what's good and pass it on.
Faux Risotto with Chicken and Vegetables in a Creamy Parmesan Sauce
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves about 6
• 4 cups cooked and cubed chicken
• 2 cups cooked rice
• 1 cup finely chopped super-thin asparagus
• 1 cup roughly chopped baby spinach leaves
• ½ cup julienned sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil, or if so, well-dried)
• 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
• 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
• Creamy Parmesan Sauce, warm (recipe below)
• 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
• 3 tablespoons melted, unsalted butter
-Preheat the oven to 350°, and lightly mist a baking dish with cooking spray.
-To a large bowl, add the chicken, the rice, asparagus, spinach, and sun-dried tomatoes, and toss to combine; pour in the Creamy Parmesan Sauce, plus the shredded parmesan cheese and the parsley, and mix to combine very well; add a pinch or two of salt and pepper, if needed.
-Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish; in a small bowl, combine the panko breadcrumbs with the melted butter, mixing with a fork, and sprinkle over the top of the gratin; bake for 20 minutes, or until the top is golden-brown (you can even use the broiler for a minute or two to finish).
Creamy Parmesan Sauce Ingredients:
• 2 tablespoon unsalted butter
• 2 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
• 1 ounce all-purpose flour
• 2 cups 1% milk
• 1 teaspoon chicken base (I use “Better Than Bouillon”)
• ¾ cup shredded parmesan cheese
• Black pepper
-Place a medium-size pot over medium heat, and add in the butter; once melted, add in the garlic and stir, and once that becomes aromatic, sprinkle in the flour and stir to combine, and cook for about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
-Next, slowly pour the milk into the roux mixture, whisking all the while to prevent lumps, and allow the sauce to gently simmer for a couple of minutes until it thickens up.
-Off the heat, add in the chicken base, plus the parmesan cheese, and whisk to incorporate; add a couple of pinches of salt and pepper, according to your taste.
-Allow to cool slightly before using, or make ahead and cool completely.