Come Into My Kitchen

Salmon With Parmesan Risotto recipe: ‘It relaxes me,’ says KC lawyer

Salmon With Parmesan Risotto by Anna Simpson.
Salmon With Parmesan Risotto by Anna Simpson. Special to The Star

Anna Dudenhoeffer Simpson relishes her time in the kitchen. This summer, Simpson started a blog,, to share her culinary escapades with friends and family.

While Simpson tries new recipes, she also enjoys cooking up a twist on family favorites — and pairing each with a libation — for the cyber-world to see. Simpson’s hope is to inspire others to mix it up in the kitchen, and Chris, her husband of three years, is a willing taste-tester and appreciative eater.

Residence: Kansas City

Occupation: Lawyer

Special cooking interest: Experimental epicurean

Is cooking your creative outlet? I’m a lawyer by day and a foodie by night. I love everything about food. I love the adventure of new cuisines. I love the comfort of a home-cooked meal. I love cooking and eating, participating in the age-old ritual of sharing good food and good wine with good people.

I want food to appeal to the eye first, whether I’m enjoying mouth-watering meals at my favorite restaurants or creating culinary experiments in my own kitchen.

Did you grow up cooking? I think my mother, Denise, gave me an appreciation for really good food when I was growing up, because she’s such a great cook. I really started to cook a lot when I was in law school, and I love to be in the kitchen with my mom.

My dad, Mark, also grows a vegetable garden, so we reap the rewards of fresh tomatoes during the summer. I am drawn to recipes that feature simple, seasonal ingredients. It may take a while to prepare a meal, but sharing it with others makes it so worth the wait.

As recipes go, this risotto certainly isn’t a quick fix. Making risotto is really a labor of love. It requires your constant attention, and once you’re making it, you’re committed to standing and stirring it for half an hour. The fastest way to ruin risotto is to think you can just leave it to cook by itself.

Unlike my fast-paced job, making risotto is a very slow process. It relaxes me and there’s something therapeutic about being able to stand there and just stir, stir, stir. At the beginning of the whole process of making risotto, there comes a point when you wonder if it’s going to turn out, and, like most things in life, if you stick to it and have patience, you are rewarded.

Is that why you chose this recipe to share? This dish embodies my cooking style: a modern, seasonal approach to classic comfort food. The creamy, luxurious risotto complements — and even highlights — the bold, fresh flavors of the salmon.

I come from a long line of food lovers. My mother and my grandmothers are fabulous cooks, and their food has always been big and bold. I’ve adopted some of their techniques, while incorporating my love of all things seasonal and fresh.

In my opinion, there is nothing better than a balanced, hearty, home-cooked meal, while sharing good food and good wine with people I love.

Mary G. Pepitone is a freelance writer who lives in Leawood. She also writes a nationally syndicated home column. E-mail her at to nominate a cook.

Salmon With Parmesan Risotto

Makes 4 servings

For the salmon:

3 tablespoons brown sugar

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves

2 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

4 (8-ounce) salmon filets

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

For the risotto:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups Arborio rice

3/4 cup white wine

8 cups simmering chicken stock

2 cups fresh or frozen and thawed peas

3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

To make salmon: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut four 10-inch squares of aluminum foil and set aside.

In a small mixing bowl, make a rub by stirring together brown sugar, garlic, parsley, salt, pepper, paprika and red pepper flakes.

Place 1 square of aluminum foil on a large baking sheet. Place a salmon filet skin-side down in the center of the foil and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Press 1/4 of brown sugar mixture gently onto piece of salmon. Fold aluminum foil over salmon and crimp edges together to create a sealed packet. Continue process with remaining salmon and brown sugar rub. Place all sealed packets on baking sheet.

Place salmon packets in oven to bake about 15 minutes, or halfway through making the risotto. Salmon should bake until it reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees with an instant-read thermometer.

To make the risotto: In a large sauté pan, melt butter and olive oil over medium heat on stovetop. Add garlic and sauté for about 11/2 minutes.

Pour rice into pan and stirring constantly, cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until lightly browned. Add wine and continue stirring until it is completely absorbed into the rice.

Stirring constantly, ladle in simmering chicken stock, 1 cup at a time, until liquid is absorbed. Total cooking time should take about 30 minutes.

Gently stir in peas until vegetables are warmed. Remove from heat and sprinkle Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper over all.

Plate by serving a salmon filet over creamy risotto.

Per serving: 1,058 calories (35 percent from fat), 44 grams total fat (10 grams saturated), 145 milligrams cholesterol, 97 grams carbohydrates, 85 grams protein, 2,215 milligrams sodium, 4 grams dietary fiber.