Well, that chard in the garden is still alive and still growing. I was waiting for the leaves to get really big so I could try another Mark Bittman recipe, Chard Stuffed with Risotto. I didn't use risotto, as it refers to the finished dish, but I did use arboriO rice and portobellO mushrooms so I could participate in O Foods for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Please see the details after the recipe.
Because it's so easy and because I really like the results, I used the same method for making the rice as I did for the Roasted Red Pepper Paella. Then I simply wrapped up the rice/mushroom mixture in the chard leaves and gently baked in a shallow bath of vegetable broth.
First, pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees.
For the mushrooms:
2 large portoblello mushrooms, cleaned, stemmed, and chopped
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp herbed butter (or "butter" product of your choice or omit)
1/2 ounce dried shitake mushrooms
1 cup boiling water
Pour the boiling water over the dried mushrooms and let them steep for 15 minutes. Drain and reserve the water. Make sure to squeeze any excess water from the mushrooms. You should be left with just about one cup of liquid.
While the dried mushrooms are steeping, begin caramelizing the mushrooms. In a large skillet over medium heat, add the oil and the butter. Once hot, add the mushrooms and toss to coat. Let these cook slowly. Patience is key. Toss or stir every few minutes. 30 minutes later you are left with only about two cups of mushrooms but a concentrated earthy mushroom flavor.
While the mushrooms are caramelizing, prepare the chard leaves. Choose unblemished and complete leaves. Wash and drain thoroughly. Slice away the leaf from along either side of the stalk to remove the thickest part of the stalk. You'll be left with a chard leaf that looks like an arrowhead. Keep these cold in the refrigerator until you are ready to stuff them.
For the vegetable broth:
1 vegetable bouillon cube
2 1/2 cups boiling water
In a small saucepan, pour the boiling water over the bouillon cube and stir to dissolve. Keep the broth hot.
For the basic rice:
2 cups arborio rice
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp fresh sage, minced
salt and pepper to taste
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
Once the mushrooms are caramelized, move on to making the rice. In an oven-proof deep skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the onions and cook for about five minutes, until they begin to soften. Add the garlic, sage, and salt and pepper. Add the rice and stir to coat all the grains. Let the rice toast for a couple of minutes. Add the broth and stir to incorporate. Bring the mixture to a boil and then place the pan in the pre-heated oven. The usual baking time for this is 15 minutes but you can always let it cook a little longer and even add more liquid, if needed.
Remove the pan and let the rice cool until you can comfortably handle it. Once cool, mix in the cheese. With damp hands, form a ball with the rice mixture. The size of the stuffing ball depends on the size of the chard leaves. Wrap up the bundles any way you like.
It's less about pretty and all about flavor. Use the two tails like shoestrings and tie up the bundles. Overlap the tails for one long oval leaf before wrapping. Hey, cut off the tails completely and make tiny bundles. Any way that suits you will work, as long as it holds the rice mixture.
As you make the bundles, place them in a baking dish. Crowding is fine because you want them to steam. Once your baking dish is full, pour about a half a cup of water or broth into the bottom of the pan and cover. Bake/steam at 300 degrees for 10-15 minutes. You just need the leaves to soften and the rice to heat through again, melting that little bit of cheese. You don't want the leaves to get crispy.
Allow them to cool just a few minutes so that rice isn't steaming hot when you try to eat it. You can top with a sauce of your choice or more cheese or leave them bare.This is a really great dish for leftover cooked rice or grains.
A word about Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.
Sadly, Gina De Palma, author of Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
Some food bloggers are asking for your participation in raising awareness of ovarian cancer by donating to Ovarian Cancer Research Fund through FirstGiving.org. Bloggers were also encouraged to participate in the O Foods for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month Contest by posting a recipe using a food that starts or ends with the letter O. Deadline is September 30 by 11:59 pm, Italy time.
All of this is put together by Sara of Ms. Adventures in Italy, Jenn of The Leftover Queen, and Michelle of Bleeding Espresso. I wish I had known of it sooner than Sunday (the 28th). So I made sure I got my hands on some arboriO rice and portobellO mushrooms Monday in order to get my post in on time today, the deadline.
September, by the way, is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. From the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund:
* Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from gynecologic cancers in the United States and is the fifth leading cause of cancer death among U.S. women; a woman’s lifetime risk of ovarian cancer is 1 in 67.
* The American Cancer Society estimates that 21,650 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the U.S. in 2008 and about 15,520 women will die from the disease.
* The symptoms of ovarian cancer are often vague and subtle, making it difficult to diagnose. There is no effective screening test for ovarian cancer but there are tests which can detect ovarian cancer when patients are at high risk or have early symptoms.
* In spite of this patients are usually diagnosed in advanced stages and only 45% survive longer than five years. Only 19% of cases are caught before the cancer has spread beyond the ovary to the pelvic region.
* When ovarian cancer is detected and treated early on, the five-year survival rate is greater than 92%.
Please donate today!