January 9, 2010

Creamy Cheesy Orzo With Swiss Chard

It can be baked in the oven or stirred to creamy perfection on the stove. It can be made into a hearty, cheese topped gratin or infused with different kinds of wine, even sparking Saumur. It can even be made with pasta.
Or can it?
I'm talking about risotto.

I have to ask...is it really risotto if it isn't made with rice?
As you know, I have issues with slow cooked vegetarian bean dishes being called Cassoulet and am really perplexed by vegan, dairy-free food products being referred to as cheese.
So what is risotto exactly? Is it the ingredients, i.e. the arborio rice, or the cooking method that makes it risotto?
Any thoughts?

To be honest though, after tasting this rich, cheesy pasta dish, I could care less! Call it risotto, call it pasta by absorption method, call it what you will.
I call it simply delicious.

A note on the cheese. Fontina is impossible to find where we live so I have replaced it with Raclette, a French (or Swiss) cheese from the Alps that is used to make a cold weather, stick-to-your-ribs dish of the same name. The cheese has a fruity and slightly smoky flavor that I love.

Cheesy Orzo "Risotto" with Swiss Chard
Serves 4
  • 2 ½ cups chicken or vegetable stock or canned low-sodium broth
  • 2 ½ cups water
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 ¾ cups orzo (¾ pound)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound red Swiss chard, stems trimmed and finely chopped, leaves coarsely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
  • 5 ounces imported Fontina (or Raclette) cheese, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1 cup)
  • ¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (3 ounces)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
1. Bring the chicken stock and water to a simmer in a saucepan; keep warm over low heat. Melt the butter in a medium nonstick saucepan. Add the orzo to the butter and cook over moderately high heat, stirring often, until the orzo is golden, about 8 minutes. Add 1 cup of the hot stock mixture and cook, stirring gently, until all of the stock is absorbed. Gradually add more of the stock mixture, 1 cup at a time, and cook, stirring frequently, until the orzo is al dente and creamy but not soupy, about 20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet. Add the shallot and Swiss chard stems and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the stems are tender and lightly browned, about 7 minutes. Add the chard leaves and cook over moderately high heat, tossing, until the leaves are wilted, about 2 minutes. Add the vinegar. Stir the chard and the Fontina and Parmesan cheeses into the risotto, season with salt and pepper and serve.

The recipe was slightly adapted from this one from Food and Wine magazine. Pin It


spacedlaw said...

Here it is called Orzotto if made of barley and if made with farro (spelt - ├ępeautre) a Farrotto.
Raclette is indeed an excellent replacement for Fontina.

Lindsey said...

oh man, do you deliver? :)

Hannah said...

Oh golly, that does look divine - so creamy and yummy!

As for the fake "cheese" products... I may be guilty of having eaten a fake feta made of tofu last night, but I went into it expecting salty flavoured tofu, not a legitimate cheese experience! That's how I justify it, anyway :D

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

What a wonderful combination of flavors! I would love it try this.

Anonymous said...

Vegan, dairy-free products that are made to taste like cheese are called vegan cheese because...they're meant to taste like cheese.

I assure you it's not to dishonor the sacred name of animal cheese or anything.

martha said...

Spacedlaw beat me to it.
What she said.

Jilly said...

The pity is I found you just before lunch. Now of course I'm SO hungry. Adore risotto. Thanks for following Riviera Dogs, Juliette.

Jilly said...

How v rude of me calling you by your incorrect name. I had three pages open - Your Facebook page, mine and your mouthwatering blog and got in a right muddle - no excuse I know. Apologies, Jennifer.

Loulou said...

Thanks for the insight into all of the different names. I appreciate it!

Yes, the delivery charge is quite high though...

It really was yummy.
I don't mind the soy based "cheese" but it cracks me up that it is allowed to be called cheese when it isn't even close to the original!

I hope you do. It was delicious!

But unfortunately they don't taste like cheese.
I was a vegetarian for 5 years and I remember trying some of them along with seitan and other soy based products. Try as they might, it isn't cheese that they're making.

Thank you!

No worries! Glad you found me and thanks for inviting me to follow Riviera Dogs.
Let me know if you try this recipe!

sarah said...

looks delicious.Orzotto, of course that would be the name (thanks spacedlaw). Does red swiss chard have a different flavor?

Betty C. said...

I haven't made risotto in a while -- I'll have to get back to it.

Hope you had a good WE -- ours was chilly to say the least!

Loulou said...

Not sure about red Swiss chard's flavor as I've never tried it.
I doubt that it would have too different of a flavor though.

I often make risotto with different vegetables. Easy and yummy!
Had a very quiet weekend. And chilly too. If it warms up tomorrow I'm getting out of the house!

Allie said...

I think it probably has to be rice to be called "risotto," but I'm personally pretty flexible on that count. When I make risotto with something other than rice (Israeli couscous, barley, spelt, whatever), I just call it *insert grain*, risotto-style. That way I never have to deal with the food name police.

Loulou said...

Food name police. I'm afraid I'm guilty of being one of those sometimes! :)
I agree with you - risotto is made with rice. But many dishes can be made in the style of risotto.

Allie said...

LOL, we're all probably guilty of it. I'm particularly bad when it deals w/ chili, but I'm sure I get persnickety about other food namings too.

Loulou said...

So you're guilty of it too? lol Glad I'm not the only one.

Allie said...

Yep, I'm guilty. I guess we only do it with the foods we're most passionate about, even if we wrinkle our noses when people do it to us about foods we're not passionate about. That's my theory, anyway.

Hungry Dog said...

This looks delicious. I love orzo!

Loulou said...

I think your theory is spot on!

Hungry Dog
I do too. It's one of my favorite shapes. :)