Friday, May 19, 2006

Italian Rice and Chard Soup


So about a week ago, my cooking buddy and I signed up for home delivery of organic, seasonal fruits, vegetables and greens from Farm Fresh to You (FFtY) here in Northern California. We did this for a number of reasons but the primary reasons are to: 1) sustain local small farms and 2) learn more about vegetables and fruits that we would not otherwise select when we're at the grocery store. We did this to shake things up a bit.

Personally, I always seem to return to the same vegetables I know and love. And I really want to broaden my cooking and vegetable knowledge base. So I found chard in our box, a vegetable that I would never buy because I wouldn't know what to do with it. Our box came on Wednesday 5/17. We were at the grocery store at 5/15 trying to decide what to buy to supplement our box. I suggested sauteeing the chard with a little garlic and olive oil (like you do with spinach) which met with the following, "We're really not going to think of anything to do with the chard standing around here without a cookbook." Loosely and dramatically translated, "I don't like that idea at all." So here it is Friday....after a few gorgeous days, it's a bit cooler and rainy. I'm happily at home without a car. What am I to make?

The first thing I come across, Polenta Cakes. They sound delicious but I don't have enough Parmesan or any Ricotta. Then I come across Risotto with Chard but I don't have enough Parmesan or arborio rice. Finally I came across this recipe. I barely had the 1/2 c arborio rice but I had everything else so I gave it whirl.

This is a super easy recipe that could probably be made in 30 minutes if it's not your first time.

Makes 3 servings
Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients
-1-2 bunches green or red chard
-1/4 c olive oil (I used 1/8 c)
-1/4 c chopped onions
-3 c vegetable stock
-1/2 c arborio rice
-1/3 c fresh basil leaves for garnish (I left out because I didn't have any)
-grated fresh Parmesan for garnish

Preparation
Get some water boiling with salt to blanch the chard leaves and stems.

Separate chard leaves from stems. Cut chard stems into small pieces. When water is boiling, add chard leaves to water and blanch for 15 seconds. Remove leaves with slotted spoon, dump into ice water to stop the cooking. Blanch the stems in the same boiling water, and dump into ice water. Drain and dry everything. Coarsely chop the leaves.

Heat oil in a large non-stick pan over medium heat. Add onions and saute until translucent about 3-5 minutes. Add chard stems and rice. Stir until coated with oil. Add stock to rice. Cover and lightly simmer for 15 minutes until rice is just cooked. Add chopped chard and heat through gently. If rice has absorbed most of the stock, add a little more. Soup should be thick. Mine came out almost risotto like.

Serve and garnish with basil and/or Parmesan cheese.

To give you some perspective, before this evening, I had never prepared or eaten chard. It has an earthy taste that is nicely complemented with arborio rice.

1 comment:

Dustin J. Mitchell said...

I'm hoping to sign up for a service like that this summer too.. but the only one I found that was reasonably priced (and I used the phrase guardedly) seems to have fallen off the face of the earth..