chard

Spinach, chard and leek risotto

Posted on Updated on


In April return to Greece for culinary inspiration. This month’s recipe is a risotto dish much loved in my homeland and to make it I am using seasonal organic Greens from Blaencamel Farm in West Wales. The key difference of this Greek risotto, called ‘Spanako-rizo’ or ‘Spanakoprasó-rizo’ is that it is less complicated in its cooking process (when compared to its Italian cousin) and it uses a lot of greens as the star ingredient rather than focussing on making a creamy rice. Whilst the rice is also added before the water it does not follow the Italian risotto method and you add all the water at once simmering the rice slowly to complete the dish.

Traditionally this dish is made with a rice called Karolina. In the UK, you can find this in Greek specialty shops, but also on the shelves of many of the Middle Eastern shops where you should seek it as Egyptian Rice. It is a short grain variety which keeps its bite when compared to Arborio. If you cannot find Karolina/Egyptian rice why not try Thai Jasmin rice which I find is a great replacement for many Greek recipes. In fact, as I am not a purist, I recommend that you try this dish with all rice varieties to find your preferred version.

Chard is regarded a wild green in Greece and has traditionally been foraged. Now cultivated widely in farms such as Blaencamel it has become a staple of our diet in the UK. Which is why I am using it together with spinach. Its meatier leaves, organic spinach, delicious Welsh leeks, foraged wild garlic and wonderful onions complete this version of the dish. In fact, Blaencamel farm’s April box will include all the ingredients you need to make your Greek Risotto. A perfect gift of the emerging Spring time and a great dish to help your body detox the heavy flavours of winter!

Ingredients (4 portions)

  • 300g Blaencamel leeks (1 bunch), sliced
  • 450g spinach (1 bag), roughly chopped
  • 450g chard (1 bag), roughly chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 bunch wild garlic
  • ¾ cup of rice
  • Juice of one small lemon
  • 1 tsp. tomato paste
  • Up to 2 tsp. sea salt
  • ½ tsp. black ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp. sea buckthorn berries (optional)
  • 1 finely chopped bunch of dill or 1 tbsp tried dill
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Preparation (30 minutes)
1. Coat the base of a 20cm pot with olive oil and sauté the onion and leeks with one tsp of salt until soft and translucent.
2. Add the tomato paste and stir well.
3. Gradually add the chopped greens (spinach, chard, wild garlic) so that wilt slightly.
4. Add the raw rice and mix well.
5. If using chop the sea buckthorn berries roughly or crush and add to the rice and green.
6. Add the lemon juice, around two cups of boiling water, dill (if adding), another teaspoon of sea salt and the pepper.
7. Simmer for 20 minutes or until the water is absorbed.
8. Serve with more crushed sea buckthorn, some feta cheese and drizzle with raw olive oil.

Happy New Year

Posted on Updated on

With a recipe for a colourful, festive Quiche.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I am sitting here dunking a piece of Terkenlis caramel brioche cake (Tsoureki) in a mug of warm coffee and looking at the photos of yesterday’s New Year Eve dinner party.  I want to keep them all. They capture our fantastic spread of dishes and the laughs, hugs and dance of all of those who shared the last hours of 2011 and the first moments of 2012 with us. My kitchen is still filled with leftovers from last night patiently awaiting the return of some of our guests for a New Year Day film night.

To my left there is a plate with the remains of a spinach quiche portion that I munched on for brunch. It is so delicious and as I recenty photographed the stages of Quiche making I thought I should share the recipe with you today.

I love New Year’s Day and its sweet, indulgent fatigue from the celebrations of the night before. For its freshness and glimpse of endless possibilities in the coming year. A big thank you to all our loved friends for offering us such warmth and joy yesterday. And a Happy New Year to all of you! Xxx

A recipe for a spinach quiche
It is easy to make quiche from scratch. I think quiche is a diverse and impressive dish, ideal for dinner parties and light lunches.

On New Year’s Eve, I experimented with wheat free organic flour to make a crunchy pastry. This was a lighter alternative to the traditional Pâte Brisée pastry using buttery margarine (mixed with buttermilk) instead of butter. If you don’t want to make the pastry you can put a quiche together in no time using ready-made short crust pastry from your local shop.  If you want to make everything yourself you need approximately 1.5hrs.

For a wheat free short crust pastry prepared New Year’s Eve 2011
(from Doves Farm Organic)
300g gluten and wheat free plain white lour blend
150r margarine flavoured with Buttermilk (or plain margerine or butter)
6tbsp water
2 pinches of salt

Mix the margarine with the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the water and knead the pastry lightly in a ball of pastry. Wrap the pastry in a cling film and leave to rest for 30 min.  

For a Pâte Brisée pastry (from the SilverSpoon cook ‘bible’)
250g Plain flour, plus extra for dusting
175g butter, softened and diced
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 pinches of salt

Mix the sifted flour and salt with the butter. Rub with your fingers until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Shape into a mound and make a well in the centre. Add the egg and knead lightly with your hands. Wrap the pastry with cling film, flatten with a rolling pin and leave in the refrigerator for 30 min.

The dark colour of pastry in the images used for this blog is because I used Einkorn wholemeal plain flour in a previous occasion. Whilst this is tasty and very filling version of Pâte Brisée you might find it a lot heavier to digest than the white plain flour version.

For a colourful quiche filling
300gr Spinach or red chard
1 red pepper (either bell or sweet red pepper)
1 bunch of spring onions or a leek
4-5 mushrooms chopped (optional) or some chopped Kalamon olives optional
150-200g feta cheese
50g Cheddar or Parmesan cheese
Salt, pepper to season
2 pinches of nutmeg

250ml double cream
4 beaten eggs
Pinch of salt

The preparation
Pick your pastry: ready made or one of the above recipes. Roll out on a floured surface or simply place into the baking dish with your fingers-this might be easier for the wheat free flour pastry, which is more crumbly. For this amount of pastry you need a 28cm (diameter) tart or quiche baking tray.

Blind bake the pastry for 15-20 minutes in a very hot preheated oven.  To blind bake: lay some baking parchment on top of your pastry and fill tightly with baking beans. My baking beans are a large bag of tarka daal, which I keep in a large jar after blind baking and reuse.

Whilst the pastry is sitting or even whilst you are blind baking it, prepare your filling.

Fry the sliced spring onions or leek in a little bit of olive oil and add a pinch of salt. After a couple of minutes, add a sliced red pepper, and follow with the chopped mushrooms (if you are using). Add the roughly chopped spinach or red chard and sauté until it wilts. Sautéing all ingredients should take approximate 10 minutes. If you are using olives now is the time to add them. Add the nutmeg. When the mixture has cooled down crumble the feta cheese in and add the grated cheddar or parmesan cheese.

Mix the cream with the 4 beaten eggs. Add some freshly grated pepper.

Once your pastry is prebaked remove the baking beans and baking paper, and lay the spinach or chard filling evenly on the base. Pour the cream and egg mixture. Bake in 180 degrees Celsius , gas mark 4, for 40minutes.

Once baked cool for at least 15 minutes before removing from the baking tray and slicing.