With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it’s a prime opportunity to showcase a food synonymous with love. So this year, rather than waste money on a mediocre steak at an inflated price, why not stay in with your beloved and serve something special? The food that immediately comes to mind when we think of the word aphrodisiac…oysters.
The idea that oysters can have an aphrodisiac effect has some merit. This mollusk packs a powerful punch and delivers an outstanding amount of vitamins and minerals. The most abundant and promising of these is zinc, a mineral that supports healthy immune function and contributes to overall wellness. There are other promising aspects to this mineral as well. Adequate zinc levels support the libido, reproductive health, and fertility, not to mention prostate health in men. And of all the foods we consume, oysters have the highest concentration of zinc. In fact, oysters contain over five times the amount of zinc compared to an equal portion of beef or lamb—both of which share second place on the list.
This luxurious risotto will make your valentine swoon. I’ve replaced the traditional starchy white grain Arborio rice with short grain brown rice to give the dish a stronger nutritional punch. However, because the brown rice doesn’t contain the starch content of Arborio, the results will be slightly less creamy. If you’re a purist, you can always stick with tradition. Serve this dish with a simple crisp salad and a glass of white wine or champagne.
Brown Rice Risotto with Oysters, Butternut Squash, and Herbs
—Recipe adapted from For Cod and Country
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes (45 for Arborio rice)
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup diced onion
1 cup short grain brown rice
1 cup white wine
Zest and juice of ½ an orange
Sea salt and black pepper
2-3 cups chicken broth, seafood stock, or water
1 cup diced butternut squash
½ cup crème fraîche or sour cream
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon tarragon
12 large oysters, shucked, liquid reserved
- Bring the stock or water to a simmer in a small pot. Keep warm.
- Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Sauté onions until translucent. Add the rice and stir to coat with butter. Cook until the rice begins to smell a bit nutty, about 3 minutes. Add the wine, orange juice, and orange zest. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add 1 cup of the broth, stock, or water. Simmer, stirring frequently, until the liquid is about half absorbed, about 10-15 minutes (6-8 minutes for Arborio). Add squash and another cup of stock. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid, about 15-20 minutes (10-12 for Arborio). Taste rice. It should have a bit of a bite to it without being crunchy. If the rice still needs more time, add another half cup of liquid and cook, stirring, adding more liquid if necessary, until rice cooks through.
- Stir together crème fraîche and herbs. Bring to a boil, then turn off heat and allow the rice to sit for 5 minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste.
- Add the oysters and their liquor, cooking the oysters in the heat from the rice. The risotto is ready to serve when the edges of the oysters begin to curl, about 3 minutes. Serve immediately.
To choose your organically grown and fresh ingredients wisely, use the following criteria:
- chemical- and hormone-free meat
- wild-caught fish
- pasture-raised, organic eggs
- whole, unrefined grains
- virgin, unrefined, first-press organic oils
- whole-food, unrefined sweeteners
- pure, clean, spring water
- sea salt
- raw and/or cultured milk and cream products