Pumpkin and Chard Risotto

If you’ve been reading this blog, you get by now that I work an awful lot, producing food for gazillions of people every week. You might think this leaves me totally sick of cooking and eating chickpeas out of the can for dinner most nights. But in fact, I only eat beans out of the can some nights! Weekends are usually reserved for cooking with/for my delightful friends. First, because otherwise I’d never see them, and second, because they have functioning kitchens that I can usurp.

On Saturday we had a Pumpkin All The Things! day with a few folks (who have a great kitchen). Originally we had planned on doing savoury pumpkin ravioli, but couldn’t find vegan wonton wrappers on a Saturday (they only sell them at the Kosher market). So, we improvised and came up with this great risotto.

Believe me when I tell you, this tastes waaaayyy better than it looks.

Believe me when I tell you, this tastes waaaayyy better than it looks.

The tangy, crunchy chard contrasts so nicely with the creamy, rich pumpkin. Mushrooms were added for some texture, along with my favorite ever Smoked Apple Sage Field Roast sausages. The end result was so delicious we all sat numb from overeating watching NFB videos until we could roll out the door.

Pumpkin and Chard Risotto

For the basic risotto:

Olive oil and/or Earth Balance, for cooking
A bottle of buttery, oaky Chardonnay
Vegetable broth
2 cups arborio rice
2 yellow onions, minced
5 cloves garlic, minced

To stir in near the end of cooking the rice:

2 cups pureed unsweetened pumpkin
3 tbsp chopped fresh marjoram, or 2 tsp dried
1.5 tsp dried thyme
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 tbsp dijon
Salt and Pepper

To stir in just before serving:

1 large bunch of chard, any colour, thoroughly washed and chopped- Stems into 1/2 inch slices, leaves into 1-inch cubes
4 Apple Sage Field Roast Sausages, broken with your fingers into small, rough bites
1 pint mushrooms, halved and sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp tamari
Juice from half a lemon
A splash of wine
Olive oil, for cooking.

Start by preparing your basic risotto. Fry the onions in plenty of oil til they are golden, then add the rice and garlic, stirring constantly until just toasted. Stir in a cup of wine, pour yourself a glass while you’re at it. Once the wine is absorbed, add stock a ladleful at a time, allowing it to be fully absorbed between each addition.

Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables and sausages to be stirred in at the very end of cooking. Sautee the mushrooms over medium high heat in the olive oil until almost all golden, then deglaze with a splash of wine. Once that wine is cooked down, add the chard stems to the mushrooms for a few minutes, and finally the chard leaves and the garlic along with the tamari and lemon. Set the vegetables aside, and in the same pan brown the sausages until mostly golden. Deglaze with a little more wine if things have been sticking. Set aside wit the vegetables.

When the rice is just barely soft enough to eat, but still slightly firm, stir in the pumpkin, marjoram, thyme, dijon, and nutritional yeast. Add another 1/2 cup of wine. Stir in the veggies and sausages that you have set aside, and adjust seasoning if required.

We ate this with delicious roasted red pepper and onion fougasse, but if were up for it we would have made a nice salad to go with.

Breakfast Barley with Red Chard

I have been looking for a savoury, grain-based warm breakfast dish for a while. I always have my criminis and kale on toast, or tofu scramble as back-ups. But I was looking for something that I could make ahead in a bigger batch to warm for breakfast over a few days with just a quick pass through a hot skillet. I tried making an oat-based dish to start, since I love oats, and I especially love savoury oats with tamari and hot sauce (!). But that wasn’t going to work- oats don’t reheat well. On the other hand, barley is sturdy enough to survive multiple reheats and still keep its shape and texture. Lovely stuff. It has good stick-to-your-ribs qualities, and is traditionally used in savoury dishes, so coming up with this wasn’t much of a stretch. If you don’t have a seasoning salt that you like, such as Spike or Old Bay, go ahead and use regular salt, but consider adding some onion or garlic powder in addition.

breakfast barley and red chard

Breakfast Barley with Red Chard
Makes 2 servings, multiply as desired

1 tbsp olive oil
2 shallots
1/2 cup pot barley
3-4 leaves of red chard, stems diced and leaves torn into bites
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
pinch of saffron, soaked
1/2 tsp seasoning salt
1/4 tsp pepper
sprig of thyme
sprinkle of lemon

Cook the shallots and chard stems in the oil until fragrant and starting to turn golden. Add the barley and garlic, stirring regularly for about 1 minute. Add 1 1/2 cups of water, bring to a boil then simmer on low, stirring occasionally. When thick (about 15-20 minutes), add another 1/2 cup of water and stir in the spices. Place the chard leaves on top of the barley and cover the pot (do not stir). In about 3 minutes, the chard leaves should be bright green and wilted, stir into the barley and serve. I recommend enjoying this with some pita, to soak up all the tasty sauce. Refrigerate unused portion, and reheat on a hot skillet with a splash of water for the next day’s breakfast. Or elevenses. Depending on how you roll.