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Festive Red Chard Risotto

I don’t remember exactly when this dish became a part of our holiday menu, but I think it was when I was in middle school. The juice of the red chard stains the rice a lovely magenta and the green of the leaves heighten the festive appeal. You can easily make a non-wine and/or vegan version by omitting the white wine and cheese. Since both do add some flavor, be prepare to add some extra lemon juice and salt to compensate.

Red Chard Risotto

+Cheese version

 Red Chard Risotto

1 medium onion, diced
2-3 tablespoons olive or grapeseed oil
1/2 tablespoon red pepper flakes or to taste
1 teaspoon black pepper or to taste
2 cups arborio rice (this is for festive amount of risotto. Make less for a regular meal)
1-2 cartons of your preferred broth (I have used just water before and it works okay. Just add more spices)
2 bunches red or rainbow chard, chopped
1/2 cup white wine
Juice of 2 lemons
~1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
salt to taste

Heat the oil in a pot or large sauté pan. At the same time, add the broth to a small pot and bring to a gentle almost-simmer.

Here's how I run my risotto. Broth heating in back, risotto cooking in front.

Here’s how I run my risotto. Broth heating in back, risotto cooking in front.

Sauté the onions, pepper flakes and black pepper until the onions begin to turn translucent. Add the rice and stir well to coat the rice in the oil. Let the rice toast a bit so that the kernels start to become translucent. Turn the heat to medium.

Let the arborio rice toast a but before you begin to add the broth.

Let the arborio rice toast a but before you begin to add the broth.

Now pour a ladle or two of broth into the rice mixture and stir! Stir until the liquid is nearly all absorbed. You don’t want things getting so dry that it starts to burn, but there should be no broth trails when you run the spoon through the mixture.

Now is the time to add more broth.

Now is the time to add more broth.

Keep doing this broth-stir routine until the rice starts to look like almost-cooked rice, at which point do a taste test. You’ll know it’s time to add the wine and chard when the rice is mostly cooked through except for a little core of hardness. The rice is going to continue to cook while the chard is wilting, so you don’t want it to be too done at this point or you will get something more like chard porridge. You also don’t want it to be too al dente at this stage, or the poor chard will get overcooked while waiting for the rice to cook through.

Chard!

If at all possible, get all ruby chard. This year was a rainbow blend, and while it tastes the same, the color of the rice isn’t as vibrant.

Once the rice is nearly done, add the white wine (or just more broth) and the chard. Two bunches of chard is a lot to cram into a pot already full of rice, so you might want to pre-wilt some of it in the microwave or another pot. Just be sure not to lose any of the chard juice! Stir the chard in as best you can, then cover the pot. Check every five minutes to test for doneness or to add more broth if the rice is getting too dry.

When the chard is cooked to your liking, the rice should be done as well. If not, add broth as before until the rice is cooked. Now add the lemon juice and stir a final time.

Turn off the heat before adding the final spices and/or cheese.

Turn off the heat before adding the final spices and/or cheese.

Turn off the heat! If this is a vegan risotto, taste and add salt as needed. If you are going full-cheese, sprinkle about a 1/4 cup of the cheese and mix in. Is it cheesy enough? Maybe add more cheese. Continue until the cheese level is acceptable. You could use vegan cheese here if you want, but I’ve not found any that have the right texture, so when going vegan I prefer to just leave the cheese out altogether.

Vegan Red Chard Risotto

The vegan version looks more festive because the colors aren’t dulled by cheese.

Feast! We like to eat this accompanied by Cauliflower and Caper Sauce.

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2014 in cooking, food

 

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Dinner 3/21/13: Cabbage Tacos

I was inspired by this ssam-bap post to try a similar thing with Mexican flavors. It made for a fast meal, with minimal cooking.

cabbage tacos

The purple cabbage is so festive.

I felt there was something subtle missing in the flavor, so I will have to refine on the experiment. I think more lime juice, a better/more flavorful salsa, and a dash of hot sauce is the answer. Also, the purple cabbage, while beautiful, turned out to be quite messy. It stained my fingers and threatened to drip purple juice all over! I recommend sticking with green cabbage.

Cabbage Tacos (tacos en repollo)

Cabbage leaves, pealed from the head carefully so they are as intact as possible
A crispy variety of lettuce
Avocado, diced
Cilantro, chopped
Green onions, chopped
Salsa
Shredded cheese (I like melty cheese, so I used a Chedder/Jack mix, but cotija would be nice if you want something firmer)
Lime wedges
Hot sauce
Cooked rice (it’s not traditional, but short grain sticks together better and makes for a neater eating experience)
1 can black beans
1 small can tomato sauce
! tablespoon chili powder
1/2 tablespoon pasilla chili powder (optional)
1/2 ground cumin
salt to taste

Get the rice cooking. Add the beans, tomato sauce and spices to a small pot and bring to a low simmer. Cook the bean mixture until thickens into more of a chili constancy.

Meanwhile, steam the cabbage leaves for about 10-15 minutes. You want them to be soft enough to fold without breaking, but not soft enough to be mushy. When they are done, run them under cold water to stop them from cooking more. Let them cool to room temp/holding-without-hurting-your-hands temp.

When the rice is done, transfer to a serving bowl and mix in the beans. Add salt to taste, keeping in mind that your salsa and cheese will add saltiness as well.

Assemble the taco! Lay a cabbage leaf on a plate, then place the lettuce so it covers any tears or breaks in the cabbage. Add rice mixture and the toppings of your choice! I think some quick pickled radishes would be a nice addition for next time, both in terms of flavor and crunch.

cabbage taco

I couldn’t get a good shot in form of taco, but they held up really well and were relatively easy to eat. You can just refold the cabbage around the filling as you eat, avoiding any lap/filling mishaps.

The nice thing about cabbage tacos vs. tortilla tacos is that the cabbage sort of stretched to contain all the filling. So unless you way overfill, you don’t run into the problem of your taco loosing a chunk of its filling at the first bite, or the tortilla breaking halfway through eating.

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2013 in cooking, food

 

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