Monday, January 25, 2010

Meatless Monday: Risotto With Walnuts And Winter Greens (Plus Music On Tap Featuring Camera Obscura)

It's all about risotto.

It's the first serious dish I learned to cook from Jaime Oliver in fact, right after I'd moved to Los Angeles.  When I was younger, I acquired a taste for it after my mother, The Original Diva, returned from a trip to Italy with a recipe for beet risotto in tow.  Obviously, it had a big impact on us kids, as risotto is one of my favorite dishes to make and a specialty in my Top Chef brother's restaurant (they do risotto fresh on the half hour).  And actually, it's at his urging that I've been blogging more risottos for Meatless Monday.

The great thing about this creamy rice dish is that it's one of the most versatile things you could possibly learn to cook, and once you have a basic recipe down pat, the variations are literally endless.  If you ask me, it's a must have in every divas repertoire!

This special meatless risotto utilizes a vegetable that's currently peaking in season: winter greens!  Right now, winter greens are all over the markets from kale to collard greens to rainbow chard, which is what I used in this recipe.  But any variety will work!  Then to add some protein and nuttiness to this recipe, I finished the risotto by whipping in roasted walnuts, parmesan reggiano and roasted walnut oil (instead of butter as is used in most restaurants).

Umm... delicious doesn't begin to describe it!  The nuttiness of the walnuts pairs superbly with the other flavors in the dish, making this a hearty, rich, but also nutrient dense meal (both winter greens and walnuts are considered superfoods with a stunning array of health benefits).

So try this risotto!  You won't miss the meat.  I promise.

Also, don't forget to click click click away on my blog!  In conjunction with Blog Away Hunger, I'm donating 100% of my January ad revenue to the World Food Program's disaster relief efforts in Haiti.  So browse through my archives - the more you view, the more money gets donated.

Risotto with Walnuts and Winter Greens
Serves 4 people
Cooking time: 40 minutes

1 bunch rainbow chard or other winter green such as kale (about 4 cups), chopped
1/2 cup walnuts
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups vegetable broth
1 shallot, chopped or half small Spanish onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup parmesan reggiano, grated
2 tablespoons walnut oil
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

To cook the walnuts, arrange them in a single layer in a pie pan or other oven proof dish.  Toast them in the oven until golden, about 4 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool.  Then, chop them.

To make the risotto, heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan over medium heat. Add the shallots or onion and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for one more minute. Then add the rice and stir for another two minutes. Pour in the white wine and stir until absorbed. Once the wine has been absorbed, slowly add the vegetable stock 1/2 a cup at a time, stirring until absorbed before adding more stock.

Once the rice is almost cooked (you've used about 1/2 to 3/4 of the stock), stir in the chopped greens.  Continue adding stock and cooking until the rice is al dente and the greens are tender (note: you may not use all of the stock).  Finish the risotto by stirring in the walnuts, parmesan and walnut oil.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To plate, either serve family style or spoon some risotto into the center of a plate.  Top with a little fresh chopped parsley.  Enjoy!

Source for ingredients
organic rainbow chard, organic shallots, organic garlic, walnuts and walnut oil from the Hollywood Farmers Market

arborio rice, organic olive oil, parmesan reggiano and organic vegetable broth from Whole Foods 

Music On Tap
Camera Obscura - My Maudlin Career

My current favorite album which I'm blaring on heavy rotation while I cook, this Scottish band brings fellow Scots Belle & Sebastian to mind as well as indie favorites The Smiths.  I simply LOVE it.

Click here to check out Camera Obscura!


  1. Vern LOVES Camera Obscura! We saw them in concert in Pomona after chowing down at the Donut Man (

    Happy Meatless Monday! [I'm eating shrimp as I type. Wah wah]

  2. LOVED your Camera Obscura pics! I simply can't get enough of them. xoxo