Last weekend, I went to the Hamptons for the first time. I had been to Montauk when I was younger with my family (my father loves boating and fishing), but I hadn’t been back since.
I was excited to go and see what all the hype was about – everyone in New York seems to drive hours to the Hamptons for some crazy reason (why not just drive an hour down the shore?!).
Now, I get it.
I went to East Hampton. Lu’s friend’s family has a house out there, so a bunch of us went up there for the weekend. It took a little over 3 hours, which wasn’t ideal, but once we started driving through the scenic neighborhoods, it was well worth it.
I grew up in a very country-esque area of New Jersey (if you can believe it), so it wasn’t much different from that, except the greenery was even more luscious. Plus, the houses in the Hamptons are truly magnificent.
I liken the Hamptons to Palm Beach without the palm trees and with more acreage. Driving to get to Lu’s friend’s house was quite the treat – looking at all the houses. Lots of “oh!”s and “ah!”s.
Once we got to the house, I totally checked out. I felt so relaxed and stress-free. Actually, my phone died on the way up to East Hampton and I didn’t charge it for a full 24 hours. I can’t tell you the last time I didn’t check Instagram for a full 24 hours! Never, probably.
We did go to the beach one day, but aside from that, we played corn hole, swam, drank wine and just chilled. Most importantly, we ate.
Usually, when I go on trips like this, I’m always the one cooking. However, this time around, everyone pitched in and worked together – whether it was mincing parsley for a chimichurri, chopping onions for a guacamole or setting the table, it was a fun, communal effort.
Every time I’m in an environment like this, I’m reminded that food really does bring people together and brings joy and love into a room.
I’m also leaving out one major factor that made this short weekend trip outstanding – we had an Iron Chef doing most of the cooking. You can’t mess with that! I’ve mentioned it before, but Marc Forgione is one of Lu’s best friends. He whipped up broiled lobster and oyster Rockefeller like it was no big deal.
One night, I was slicing zucchinis for him and then he shook them in a garbage bag with a simple balsamic and rosemary marinade. Yes, a garbage bag. He grilled them as a side to go along with dinner (which was lobster, tomahawk steaks, a fig and goat cheese salad and this unbelievable farro mix.)
The simple combination of flavors with the zucchini inspired today’s recipe – all you need is a few sprigs of thyme to infuse massive robust flavor into this dish.
Now, while I’m no Iron Chef, I guarantee you that you’ll be surprised at how many flavors and textures come into play in this simple beet risotto dish. You’ll be shocked by how velvety the beets become as they combine with the softly melted parmesan cheese.
All in all, my trip to the Hamptons wasn’t memorable because of the beaches or the big houses – it was memorable because of the food.
What’s your favorite type of risotto?
Nutritional Information & Recipe
Thyme Beet Risotto with Walnuts
- 2 large beets peeled, Blade C
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove of garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons minced shallots
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1/4 cup vegetable broth
- 1/3 cup roughly chopped walnuts
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- Place the beet noodles into a food processor and pulse until rice-like. Be careful not to over-pulse, so go slowly.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-heat. Once heated, add in the garlic and shallots. Let cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant and then add in the beets. Season the beets with salt, pepper and add in the thyme.
- Stir to combine and add in the vegetable broth. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Let cook for 5-7 minutes or until beets soften. Once softened, remove from heat, stir in the parmesan cheese and walnuts and stir until cheese melts into the risotto.
- Serve immediately.