Monday, August 11, 2008

Chard Stuffed with Risotto and Mozzarella

Although our favorite chard with tofu and tomato dish is still a summer staple, my husband found an article in the New York Times that encouraged me to try something different with chard.  The title intrigued me, since I could figure out how to stuff chard, but it turns out that you just roll balls of rice and cheese in chard, so that made more sense to me.

The New York Times only allows subscribers to access its archives after a certain point, but I found a copy of the recipe online here so everyone can access it.

The recipe was time consuming, but seemed pretty worthwhile.  I'd probably make it as a special occasion meal, but it was a little involved for a regular dinner.  Risotto on its own is time-consuming, and this added several more steps after the risotto.  For those who don't want to read the whole recipe, basically you make risotto, wrap mozzarella cheese in balls of the risotto, and then wrap a poached chard leaf around it.  You make six of these and put them in a pan, then put about half an inch of vegetable broth in the pan, and bake for 10 minutes. Here's a picture of it when it came out of the oven.

I felt like the end product was a little salty for me, so would probably do half broth and half water for the risotto next time.  Otherwise, it was really good and the melted mozzarella and the risotto tasted great together.  The saffron added great flavor, and the lemony taste was pretty obvious too (and I did actually zest the lemons, Lee!).  The chard didn't really taste like much, but was crucial for holding the whole thing together and presentation.  I found that I needed a lot of chard leaves to make this work since some were too small or had holes in them, so I had to be picky.

I think the kids would have liked the risotto and cheese part, but they were sort of put off by the chewy green wrapping.  They love mozzarella cheese (or "Cinderella cheese" as my 3-year-old calls it), so had some pieces of that on the side, along with lots of bread. Here's a picture of a kid's plate, which shows a cross-section of the stuffed chard.

I also had some broccoli from the farmers' market, so tried a new broccoli side dish from Local Flavors.  It's called Braised Broccoli with Olives.  It turned out fine, but I think I prefer the fresher and crisper taste of simple roasted broccoli.  Here's the recipe:

4 small heads broccoli or 1.5 or more pounds broccoli sprouts
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion
1 tablespoon chopped majoram or oregano
3 garlic cloves, coarsley chopped
2 tablespoons olive paste or finely chopped Gaeta olives
grated zest of 1/2 lemon

1. Separate the stalks and peel them, then chop into 1/2 inch pieces.  Separate the broccoli into florets and peel the base of the crowns.
2. Cook the broccoli in boiling water for 5 minutes.  Reserving a cup of water, take out broccoli and chop into smaller than bite-sized pieces.
3. Cook the onion, majoram or oregano, and garlic in a skillet for 5-7 minutes until the onion is soft.  Add in the olives or olive paste, then add the broccoli and stir to coat.  Season with salt and pepper and add the lemon zest, then add in the reserved water and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

I couldn't find Gaeta olives at Trader Joe's, so I just got a small can of chopped black olives and used the whole thing since I like olives.  Make sure you peel the stalks really well, since I missed a few spots and it was pretty obvious.  I was all about the lemon zesting when prepping this meal, but lemon juice would probably have had the same effect.


What A Card said...

I'm glad I'm not the only mad-zester. I like to add citrus zest to everything I can!

The chard dish sounds interesting but like a lot of work. What's your final vote: worth the work, or skip it?

Chris said...

We read Bittman's article (and there's a video online) every week, as he is pretty entertaining. We thought about trying this one, I'm glad you did! Now we will definitely try it.

Katie said...

I just watched the video, which I hadn't known existed. It was so helpful! I also found out from watching the video that the risotto could have been made in advance, and that the meal can be served at room temperature (or slightly warmer).

So to answer whatacard's question, if things can easily be made in advance, than I think it is worthwhile. The written recipe seemed to stress precise timing, which stresses me out while cooking with little kids around, but with some extra time to prep things in advance, it would be simple. You could even eat another risotto dish the night before and use the leftovers (which the video suggests).

Josh also made the stuffed zucchini and stuffed tomatoes mentioned in the article and will be blogging about them later.