It’s finally winter around here (Minneapolis). This is a very strange sentence since its January and it’s “finally” winter! Normally by now we have had a snow storm or two, temperatures have been in the negatives… and I am asking myself why I live here.
It has been a very different winter. And although every season that comes is bound to be unique in its own right, this season in particular has been very special. Little snow, warmer temperatures, and new life priorities. Little baby Poppy’s arrival has been a game changer for us.
Our day-to-day family life is somewhat the same with chores, family dinners and weekend shenanigans, but life itself has a deeper purpose. Heavy deep stuff but yet so incredible fulfilling. It’s not just about us anymore, it’s about this little girl who has her whole life ahead of her. And to be honest it makes me want to be a better version of me. For her, for the hubs and for myself. No need for a New Year’s resolution. Just add a baby to the mix and you will have plenty to work towards.
As I sit here feeling thankful and sentimental, I am craving comfort and simplicity. A feel-good dinner. Something uncomplicated and satisfying with a glass of wine. Risotto. Thank you as always Italy! Romantic, elegant and swimming in whatever the seasonal vegetable is.
Fortunately I always keep Arborio rice in the pantry for a rainy day. And as for the veggie, Swiss chard made its way into my fridge after calling my name at the store. Vibrant red stems and meaty earthy leaves. The perfect mild green to complement the rice all blanketed in parmesan cheese.
A dish that seems laborious and fancy, is in fact fairly easy if you follow the proper technique.
With less than 10 ingredients an Italian classic is born.
Notes: Since risotto does require timely execution of each step , it is easiest to do a little mise en place, or setting up every ingredient before cooking. Chop, measure and set out all the ingredients needed for the recipe and have them nearby. Even have your bowl ready for serving. Risotto is best fresh off the stove top.
Also risotto must be made with Arborio rice. As this rice cooks is releases starches which lends to the creaminess of the dish. No other rice is able to do this as beautifully.
Swiss Chard Risotto
Serves 2-3 as a main course, 4 as a side
- ½ cup chopped shallot
- ½ pound Swiss chard, washed well, trimmed of stems, leaves cut into strips
- 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock, preferably the low sodium kind
- 2 tablespoon butter, divided
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup Arborio rice*
- ½ cup dry white wine
- ½ cup coarsely grated Parmigiano Reggiano, a little extra for garnish
Chop the shallot and the Swiss chard, set aside. Measure out the risotto and wine, set aside. Shred the cheese. Grab the bowls for serving.
Heat the chicken stock in a saucepan until it comes to a low simmer. Have a ladle ready.
In a separate 3 or 4 quart saucepan or high-sided sauté pan (at least 10″ wide), melt 1 tablespoon butter and olive oil over medium-low heat. Add shallots and cook until translucent, about 1-2 minutes.
Pour in the Arborio rice and stir until evenly coated with butter, oil and shallots, 1 minutes. Add in the white wine, stirring until it is almost completely absorbed. At this point, add a ladle of the warm stock and stir the rice. Wait to add another ladle until the liquid has been almost completely absorbed by the rice. Continue to add a ladle at a time and stir until there are about 2 ladles left (about 20 minutes).
Stir in the Swiss chard and continue adding the last of the liquid, one ladle at a time.
Lastly stir in the cheese and the last tablespoon of butter. Add salt and pepper to taste. Top with some parmesan cheese shavings. Serve immediately with some crisp white wine.