I haven’t been to Nice in years, but I’ve been dreaming about a visit ever since I read this article by Mark Bittman in 2008 about a vegetarian restaurant called La Zucca Magica. (I’ll just wait here for a minute while you go enjoy Google’s translation of that webpage.) Some people dream of lounging on the Riviera, I dream of magic squash and vegetarian fine dining, what can I say?
As you might imagine, I promptly cooked my way through the recipes featured along with Mr. Bittman’s column, and this dish was born of one of them. It’s been a regular feature at our table ever since, and when I make risotto I always hope for leftovers to roll up in chard leaves later in the week. (Of course you can follow the original recipe and make a risotto just for this dish–the lemony risotto in the recipe is quite nice–but that’s a bit ambitious for me these days.) The Leek and Green Garlic Risotto from the other night was perfect.
There’s also a buried treasure in there: a gooey, rich strand of mozzarella cheese that reveals itself as you dig into each austere-looking package. You could omit this if you’re using a risotto that’s already as decadent as the Leek and Green Garlic Risotto–but why?
Risotto-Stuffed Chard Leaves: Wash and dry a bunch or two of chard and use a knife to cut a narrow upside-down V in each leaf, removing the stem and the vein that runs up through the center of the leaf. Save those chard stems for making vegetable broth or another dish! Bring a few cups of vegetable broth to a simmer in a wide pan, and add chard leaves to blanch for 30 seconds, then use tongs to transfer them to a strainer (reserve the broth for later in the recipe). You may have to do this in a few batches.
Make the rolls as follows: lay a chard leaf (or two if they’re small) on the counter, overlapping the two sides in the middle to form one big surface. If there are holes, just grab another leaf and patch them up. Wet your hands and make a 2-3″ cylinder of risotto with a slice of mozzarella hidden in the middle. Place risotto about 2 inches down from the top of the chard leaf. Fold the top of the leaf down toward you over the risotto, then fold both sides of the leaf in toward the center. Roll the leaf into a tidy little package and place it in a baking pan. Repeat with remaining chard leaves and risotto. When your pan is full or you run out of ingredients, whichever comes first, pour 1/2″ of the reserved broth into the pan and bake the rolls at 400 for 15 minutes. Serve dusted with Parmesan and olive oil, or lemon zest, or a drizzle of pesto–or plain. Do I have to tell you that you’ll want a salad with these? I didn’t think so.
The stuffed chard leaves sound terrific. I grow rainbow chard and this will be a great way to use some. Thanks for sharing the recipe.
I always like to find new ways to use up things from my garden! Enjoy. :)
I love recipes like this that you don’t see everyday. Sounds so delish!
Glad you’ve seen it now, enjoy! :)
This reminds me of Dolmates. I think it sounds heavenly!
Mmm, that makes me think that these would be great with some crunchy pine nuts folded in instead of the cheese–you’re right, you could definitely take these in a dolmates direction! :)
ooooh, pine nuts would be a great addition!
The magic pumpkin! What a lovely sounding vegetarian restaurant! I love me some Mark Bittman, he has recipes in Runner’s World all the time and they are always fabulous. Your recipe is such a beautiful use of leftovers, I like the way you think Emmy! I had leftover sunflower seed veggie burgers earlier this week and we ate all the whole wheat hamburger buns. So I wrapped them in giant romaine leaves and they tasted even better without all the bread masking their flavor. Woohoo!
I really like most things wrapped in lettuce leaves. I have never understood the one-lettuce-leaf sandwich, I want so much more! :)
Hmmmmm Zucca Magica, la Courge Magique, the Magical Squash…. seems goooood. Looking forward to stop there on my next trip home :) Thank you for this recipe… looks awsome!
Is that home for you? Lucky you! If you go I would love to hear about your experience so I can live vicariously! :)
Those look SO delicious!
I haven’t been to Nice; I was planning on going during a three-month trip in Europe that I took back in summer 2009, but the darn French train schedule got messed up and I couldn’t get a ticket. Ah, well..but it certainly would’ve been “nice!” :)
It’s always good to save some things to look forward to next time. :)
This reminds me of cabbage rolls but oh so much better … enjoy your weekend!
Oh, but cabbage rolls sounds so stodgy and these sound so elegant. :) I’m going to start thinking about a better name for cabbage rolls and then I’ll make some to put up here, because despite their bad PR they can be quite delicious! :)
These look absolutely perfect, Emmy! I think the photo is gorgeous!
And a melty mozza surprise in the middle? Oh, man. Best surprise ever!!!!!!
Mmm, cheese. I do like gooey cheese. :)
Yum, these sound great! Anything stuffed with cheese, and I’m there : )
Do the chard leaves get as tender (and easy to bite through) as grape leaves?
This does sound completely amazing! I love chard, and I love risotto, and I especially love discovering pockets of melted cheese while I’m eating–why have I never done anything like this before? Fabulous idea–thank you!
These are absolutely scrumptious looking, and I love that you’ve roasted the chard stems as well in another recipe. Their bright colors are so beautiful. And the cheese surprise inside these has to be a winner :)
Oh, yum. I must grow some chard this spring.