June 19, 2013 by Meg G.
It’s CSA season! Hooray! Yesterday we received our first bounty from Dismas Family Farm, which included parsley, beets, lettuce, scallions, kohlrabi, spinach, Swiss chard, and Napa cabbage.
Before we jump into the veggies, let’s talk about Dismas Family Farm. This working farm in Oakham, MA was established in 2009 as program of Dismas House, a non-profit that serves former prisoners trying to rebuild their lives. In addition to producing some truly beautiful and delicious fresh foods, the farm also provides vocational training and case management for former prisoners and their families. Residents of the farm are “trained in crop production, animal husbandry, barn management, woodshop skills, production of finished farm goods, and marketing strategies and approaches.” Really, it’s a win-win! We get fresh produce and people who are generally considered “unhirable” acquire jobs and learn new skills.
So, what to do with all those leafy greens? While Heather got to washing and storing, I grabbed the chard, parsley, and some farro and got to work. Risotto (or in this case, farrotto) is pretty much the perfect meal for using unfamiliar ingredients. If you’ve made risotto once, you know that most veggies can be easily inserted into your basic recipe with fabulous results. I leaned on Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. She’s great about listing the “how-tos” for basics like risotto. You ready? Let’s go!
Swiss Chard Farrotto – inspired by Deborah Madison’s Beet Risotto with Greens
- 6 cups well seasoned vegetable stock
- 3 Tablespoons butter (or olive oil to veganize)
- 1/2 cup finely diced onion
- 1 1/2 cups farro (or Arborio rice)
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 3 1/2 cups chard (or kale), stems removed, leaves finely chopped
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- grated zest and juice of half a lemon
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional; leave out to veganize)
- Heat the stock and let it simmer on the stove. Feel free to add the chard stems to the pot to enhance the flavor.
- Heat the butter or oil in a wide skillet, add the onion, and cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes, stirring often. No need to brown the onion, just soften it up.
- Add the farro and stir to coat. Let cook for about a minute.
- Add the wine and let it simmer until it has been absorbed.
- Add the parsley, basil, and chard and then cover with 2 cups of stock. Cover the pan and cook at a lively (not too rapid, but bubbling) simmer until the stock is absorbed.
- Once absorbed, remove the cover and begin adding the remaining stock in 1/2 cup increments, stirring often, and allowing the stock to absorb fully before adding the next portion.
- The farro should take about 20-25 minutes to soften, depending on your particular farro, heat, pan, stirring, etc. Be patient and taste for doneness. When just about finished cooking, taste for salt and pepper and add the lemon juice and zest, stirring quickly to combine.
- Serve immediately in shallow bowls, dusted with the Parmesan cheese.
You may have noticed that the recipe that I reference above actually calls for beets. This would have been a perfect way to use yet another vegetable in this week’s share, if I didn’t dislike beets so much. But those of you who love beets – have at it! Deborah’s recipe calls for 2-3 medium beets, peeled and grated (about 2 cups). They get thrown in with the parsley, basil, and chard. You can also add the chopped beet greens toward the end of your cooking time. (Heather, the beet-lover in our house, has other plans for those beets that don’t involve me. Thank goodness!)
This farrotto was a simple and delicious meal. The chard wilts down to a deep green color, packed with flavor and the farro, while not as starchy as Arborio, lends a sort of creamy nuttiness. Finally, the herbs, lemon, and white wine really brighten everything up!
So, friends what fun things are you making with local, in-season produce?