Siverbeet Risotto

Silverbeet, Spinach, Chard… whatever you call it, it’s a delicious ingredient. A subtle hint of beetroot, and a savoury earthiness that you just know is good for you. It’s often a watery sludge that’s just plonked down as an afterthought, but chard is a great ingredient served with rice. In particular as the main voice of this risotto. It’s a delicious meal on its own or as an accompaniment to poultry or meat. Risotto is filling and this is no exception – hearty, warming and absolutely delicious! If there’s any left, as there was with me – rest assured it won’t go to waste – you can make delicious arancini the next day! Two for the price of one!!

For the silverbeet puree:
400g silverbeet (stems removed and finely diced – to be used later – leaves roughly chopped)
2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 level teaspoon aniseed seeds
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper

For the risotto:
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup of the finely diced silverbeet stems
1/2 small onion (finely diced)
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 cup arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
2 litres good quality chicken stock (or vegetable stock to make it vegetarian)
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter (cubed)
salt & pepper

Heat a saucepan with about 1 cup water until boiling. Add the silverbeet leaves and cook for 3-4 minutes. Drain, cool slightly then add to a food processor along with the cheese, aniseed, olive oil, parsley and a little salt & pepper. Blend for about 1 minute into a fine puree. Set aside.

Heat the chicken stock in a pan until just boiling – reduce the heat to low and keep hot on a back burner.

Heat the butter over a moderate heat in a large saucepan until bubbling. Add the diced silverbeet and onion and gently fry for 4-5 minutes until soft and golden. Add the rice and stir for 1 minute. Pour in the wine and simmer for 1-2 minutes, stirring contstantly to burn off the alcohol and reduce the liquid.

Add two ladles of the stock and stir constantly till most of the liquid is gone. Repeat with a further two ladles of stock and repeat this process for about 8-10 minutes until the rice is almost done but still a little raw. Add the silverbeet puree and a little more stock and stir, cooking for a further 2-3 minutes until the rice is cooked but still with a little bite add more stock as necessary to keep the consistency as creamy as possible. Remove from the heat then beat in the butter and 2/3 of the parmesan until creamy. If it’s a little thick – add a little more stock. It should be fairly creamy and runny. Season well with salt and pepper to your liking.

Serve on its own as a hearty lunch, or alongside poultry or meat.

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