Meals I Have Made to Woo Men, Part III

The first time I cooked for my current boyfriend was a deeply nerve-wracking affair. The first time I cook for anyone always is, since I’m really not that good at it but I talk a big game, and put a lot of stock in my ability to caretake. I like food, and it makes me feel good; I want you to feel good, too, and I want you to associate those good feelings with me.

Luckily, my bf can’t cook his way out of a paper bag (although let him loose on deontological ethics and he’ll show you want he’s made of!). My secret in situations like this is to go with risotto.

Butternut Squash Risotto | A Cup of Jo

Mastering recipe-free risotto is a life goal of mine. They are deceptively tricky beasts, as the texture walks a fine line between tender-with-a-light-chew and wallpaper paste. Also, many recipes call for non-stop stirring, and it is not easy to appear casually sexually emboldened with one hand stuck to a wooden spatula (I MEAN I’VE OBVIOUSLY DONE IT BUT WE ARE NOT ALL OF US WIZARDS). That said, they also feel kinda fahnce so you can trick your partner into believing you are capable of great things to come (joke’s on you, boyfriend!). Final bonus: they are a great go-to vegetarian main that won’t make anyone hurl a mung bean at your head in the throes of a blood sugar crash.

Cost: $$$ (out of $$$$$); $7ish/serving, pantry staples excluded.

This jerk is on the pricier side because you have to use wine. I have not found a good substitute for cooking with wine. There is a camp that will tell you you can use some kind of acid in water, like diluted lemon juice, but I think those people are trolls. So you buy the cheaper (but not cheap!) white wine (something dry and light), and then you kind of loll a glass about in one hand while stirring with the other and it is all very Dietrich, la di da.

You could really sub in any winter squash here, but do not skip the smoked paprika, which is a wonder spice — especially in vegetarian cooking. It adds a dark, almost roasted flavor that reminds me of what I imagine bacon might taste like to people who really don’t like bacon. I used pecorino instead of manchego because I didn’t like him that much (yet).

Success Rate: Going strong since December! Risotto-besotted dummy.

Earlier episodes here and here.

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