Friday, April 3, 2009

Yearning-For-Spring Risotto

All rain and no sun makes this foodie a nasty grouch. I'm tired of looking at these bare trees. A month ago I was still able to appreciate their stark beauty, but now they just look like they're taunting me. I started this blog in the dead of winter, but now I want to start incorporating some cheerful outdoor shots into my posts! There's only so much inspiration I can get from chilly winds and dull grey skies.

There's also this other thing that's making me grumpy. Usually DH and I like to take one "honeymoon" trip every year - you know, while we can (no kids, yet!). Well, this year we started to think about our annual vacation, and what with this recession raising its ugly head, we've basically decided to go on a "budget" vacation. Ugh. Look, call me high maintenance or whatever, but I used to think that going on vacation meant getting away from it all, including worrying about the budget! Don't get me wrong, I do agree that this year we have to cut back, but that doesn't mean I can't gripe about it, right? I'll do the right thing, but I'll do it kicking and screaming dammit! *Sigh* ... oh don't worry, this is just a phase. It's called "initial resistance" - I'll be a happy camper (it's just a phrase, I will not go camping as my much-needed annual vacation, so please don't suggest it dear readers!) once we decide on a place that really speaks to us. I'm open to suggestions! It just needs to be in the continental US. I have a feeling you're a well-traveled lot, my dear readers, so spill.

To make up for the lack of green outside, I went and brought some for my insides - gorgeous, leafy swiss chard. I came across this good-looking recipe that Brys posted on Cookthink (me likey this site a LOT), and decided that this was a great way to not only use up the chunk of leftover gorgonzola I had in my fridge, but also a delicious way to use this chock-full of nutrients veggie. Swiss chard is an excellent source of vitamins C, E, and K, carotenes, chlorophyll, and fiber. It's also rich in several minerals including potassium, magnesium, iron, and manganese. Then there's vitamin B6, protein, calcium, thiamine, selenium, zinc, niacin, and folic acid ... *whew* - that was a mouthful. I just think it's purrdy.

Risotto With Chard, Gorgonzola & Walnuts
(original recipe on Cookthink; I made some changes)

Serves 2-3


1 cup arborio rice
1 medium white onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 or 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
5 cups vegetable broth
Half a bunch swiss chard, washed, sliced into thin strips
1/2 crumbled gorgonzola (or more, per your taste)
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
Half a lemon, zested
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


1. Set the vegetable stock to boil. When it comes to a boil, turn down the heat so that it's simmering.

2. Toast the chopped walnuts in a tsp of oil, and keep aside.

3. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute the onions till transparent, then cook the chopped garlic in there for another minute.

4. Add the rice, and stir about for 1-2 mins, till all the grains are coated with the oil.

5. Pour in a ladle full of the simmering broth, and keep stirring occasionally till the liquid is absorbed by the rice. Do this until the rice starts to soften, 8-10 mins.

6. Stir in the strips of swiss chard, and continue with adding one ladle at a time of the broth, waiting for the liquid to absord between each time, until the rice becomes tender. Another 10 mins.

7. Finally, throw in the toasted walnuts, gorgonzola, salt, pepper and lemon zest. Stir for another 2 mins, then you're done! Best to eat this right away, which shouldn't be too hard.

Verdict: I felt really good about this recipe. Maybe it was all those nutrients coarsing through my clogged veins. Maybe it was simply delicious. It's definitely a keeper, and I'll make it again when chard is in its peak season. There are no real spices in this dish, so you have to make sure your ingredients are flavorful enough to really shine through. The crunch of the walnuts is a really special touch here. Nothing like a successful kitchen experiment to get me out of my funk! Oh, and the fact that DH liked it too (enough to have seconds), well, that's just sweet sweet icing.

The first time I tried out this dish, there was still snow on the ground ... which wasn't that long ago!

I'm sending this in as my second entry to the Weekend Herb Blogging event, hosted this week by Ivy at Kopiaste (go on, venture into some amazing Greek cuisine by visiting this site!).


Sophie Sportende Foodie said...

I love it!!! I adore it!! I love Swiss chard!! It isn't very much used in Belgium!!! It is like a forgotten vegetable!! This looks so yummie :)!!!

Donna-FFW said...

This risotto sounds fantastic. I love the nuts in it!! its so pretty too Muneeba!!

Kerstin said...

Looks super flavorful - I especially love your addition of walnuts!

We really enjoy going to Bar Harbor, Maine - it's beautiful and there are great hiking trails and beaches at Acadia National Park. Plus, incredible seafood and desserts stuffed with blueberries!

Sara said...

I love the combination of gorgonzola and walnuts, in fact, I put them both on a salad last night! This risotto looks great.

Marta said...

this looks absolutely lovely. I long for spring too, but I'm sure it's going to take a bit longer to arrive up here in Canada :)

Ciao Chow Linda said...

This risotto looks terrific. I love swiss chard and gorgonzola, but together - yum! I would never have thought of adding walnuts.
If you want someplace warm, why not the Phoenix area. You could go to Sedona for a few days too. For someplace closer, check out Miami or Key West.

lisaiscooking said...

This sounds delicious. Chard with gorgonzola sounds like a great combination!

Jamie said...

Well, call me high maintenance, too, because at our age I think a vacation should mean luxury hotels and wonderful meals! And I don't camp either! LOL!

This risotto looks fantastic and this Risotto Queen must try it! said...

Poor you. We are already riding on spring and it's getting warmer by the day here in St. Louis, Missouri

Yasmeen said...

mmm..creamy cheesy and with healthy greens,this is definitely a meal to yearn for.Vacation? I don't remember seriously going on vacation after having kids,besides the yearly visits to Sis's place in NJ and biyearly visits to India.Hope you find a nice spot for vacation under budget.We are experiencing a nasty cold weather here this week ,but I'm hopeful spring will arrive sooon:D

catherine @ said...

Chard and gorgonzola--fanastic! I bet this is a fantastic risotto. Yum!

Muneeba said...

Kerstin & Linda, THANK YOU for your great suggestions - rest assured, I've already started frantically looking into both possibilities!
Jamie, I couldn't have said it better myself .. DAMN RIGHT I want those spas and luxury hotels! ;)
And thks to all you other lovely gals for the kind words. You make me wanna be a better cook! (feeling sentimental today)

Nicole (Sweetie Pie) said...

The combination of chard, gorgonzola and walnuts is one of my absolute favorites. I would love this risotto!

I hope you find a good vacation spot, and I hope the trees put on leaves soon. Seeing things sprouting and growing has definitely improved my mood over the last few weeks!

Anonymous said...

This was the best risotto I ever had. I added a touch of white wine towards the end. Thanks for the recipe!

Muneeba said...

You're most welcome Anonymous! White wine probably made it better, so good for you :)

Dazy said...

This is a new one for me! Looks really yummy too..gearing up with recipes for the cold winter days hopefully ahead!