Tag Archives: vegan option

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.


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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Mom’s Breakfast Potaotes

My mom has been making these breakfast potatoes on special occasions for as long as I can remember. Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays…they just don’t feel right without a big bowl of breakfast potatoes to munch on.

The type of potato you use for this recipe really does matter. You need the starchy russet potatoes that come in big bags at the super market. They are a sturdy potato that hold their shape after all the cooking. More artesianal potatoes are just not up to the job of this particular dish. Also, I’m firmly in the Parmesan camp when if comes to the cheese. The shredded stuff from Trader Joe’s is my personal favorite for this and risottos.

Mom's breakfast potatoes

The carrots mixed in indicate that this is the vegan batch.

And now in her own words, my mom’s breakfast potatoes!

Here’s the recipe for my breakfast potatoes, at long last. I call them breakfast potatoes, because I get up early to make them on holiday mornings. But we eat them all day long (I usually make a double batch).


2 large greased cookie sheets
10 medium russet potatoes, scrubbed, cubed
1 Cup flour
1/4 C (or to taste), dried onion flakes
1 T granulated garlic
1/2 Tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 T ground cumin
2-3 Cups shredded parmesan or formaggio quatro cheese
1/4 pound butter, melted
Soy sauce (don’t add until half way through the baking)
Mix the dry ingredients and cheese in a big bowl, add the cubed potatoes, and mix. You don’t need salt, the cheese and soy sauce add enough saltiness.Drizzle half of the melted butter over the mixture, and stir well, being sure to get the dry stuff that falls to the bottom of the bowl.

Grease the cookie sheets with the other half of the melted butter. Divide the potato mixture between the cookie sheets, spread the potato chunks out, trying to have only one layer of potato.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, drizzle soy sauce over the potatoes, and stir and turn the potatoes over. Return to oven for 15 more minutes, or until dark golden brown. You might want to stir them one more time, to make sure all the sides get crispy.
The potatoes are done when they test soft with a knife or fork. Fantastic piping hot, but also good at room temperature, or even cold.
We eat them with ketchup, steak sauce, or whatever sauce you usually use with potatoes.
Substitute olive oil or margarine for the butter.
Use vegan cheese shreds instead of parmesan.

Mom's Breakfast Potatoes

I actually forgot to take a picture of the non-vegan version. It looks like this, but with cheese chrunchies.

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Posted by on January 9, 2014 in cooking, food


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