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
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