My little sister graduated from college a few weeks ago. She didn't want to attend the ceremony (it would've been pointless, really, as there were too many students for them to be called individually), so Mom let her pick where she wanted to go for lunch instead. Sis chose The Swan Coach House. Apparently it's an Atlanta landmark, but I had never heard of it before, even though it turned out to be located pretty close to the starting point for the Great Urban Race from last month.
Knowing my sister, I figured it would not be the kind of place I would typically enjoy. For one thing, it's only open for three and a half hours, Monday - Saturday, and there's usually a one-hour wait to be seated. Also, they do not accept reservations for groups smaller than (I think) ten. And this is stuff she knew before we even got in the car to drive down there! When we pulled up to the restaurant, all I could see were groups of women in floral print dresses and high heels (definitely NOT what I was wearing). The inside looked like an Easter basket had exploded - there's a photo gallery on the website to give you an idea. I was feeling pretty uncomfortable and out of my element, and we ended up walking around the gift shop while waiting the hour for our table.
But then we were seated, ordered, and prompt served our food. Oh, the food. It was delicious! Worth every minute we stood around waiting for the hostess to call our name, and definitely worth having to stare at a sea of flowery dresses and Pepto-Bismol-colored walls. Luckily my sister had picked up a copy of the Swan Coach House cookbook (in the aforementioned gift shop) and I was able to flip through it and find some really excellent recipes to make at home. My first attempt was the Pest Risotto, which turned out to be the BEST. RISOTTO. EVER. I made a few adjustments to the original the second time I made it, and it turned out even better. How can something be better than the BEST, you ask? Well, I don't know, but this risotto is it.
1 small zucchini, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 small yellow squash, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
4 cups vegetable broth
2 gloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 Tbs olive oil
1 cup arborio rice
1/4 cup pesto
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
black pepper to taste
Put the zucchini, yellow squash, and broth in a small pot and simmer over medium heat. Saute the garlic and onions in the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until tender. Add the rice and cook for three minutes, stirring continuously. Remove the cooked squash and zucchini from the broth and set aside. Add one cup of the warm broth to the rice and cook until the broth is mostly absorbed, stirring continuously. Add another 1/2 cup of the broth and cook until almost absorbed, stirring continuously. Repeat until almost all of the broth has been absorbed. (This will probably take about 20 - 30 minutes.) Stir in the pesto. Add in the remaining broth, cooking until the mixture is creamy and the rice is al dente. Stir in the cheese, squash, and zucchini and season with black pepper to taste. Serve and enjoy.
Note: This picture is from the first time I made the recipe, before I added in the vegetables. But you get the idea.