I really love my CSA. Until I picked up my box tonight, I really did not have an idea for ricotta that I just had to make. Then I opened my box, and there were three beautiful bunches of dandelion greens. My CSA specializes in greens - varieties of kale, chard, baby radicchio, mustard, collards, mizuna, tatsoi, arugula, even taro leaves - you name it, we have probably had it in our box. However, today was a first for dandelion greens. Right away, I knew I wanted to pair the creamy, sweet ricotta with the bitter dandelion greens. Risotto came to mind as a perfect vehicle for the pair. Sautéing the greens first take a bit of their bite away, so when you add them to the risotto they are tender and flavorful without being overly aggressive. I have been using orange zest a lot lately, but orange zest in risotto was an experiment – and one that paid off. The sweet, fragrant bright citrus contrasts the greens while it complements the ricotta. This is spring in a bowl. Ricotta risotto is wonderfully rich, soft and creamy. I may never make risotto again without it! —gingerroot
extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons
large bunch tender dandelion greens, swished in water, rinsed and trimmed to 2-inch lengths for 3 loosely packed cups. Can substitute another tender bitter green, such as lacinato kale, tatsoi, mizuna or curly endive.
baby leeks, white and tender green parts only, cleaned and sliced (can substitute spring onions or green onions)
Taste a bit of the dandelion green to get a sense of its bitterness.
In a small saucepan, start to heat up chicken stock over medium heat. Once stock begins to steam, cover pan and lower heat to keep stock warm.
In a Dutch oven, heat 1 ½ tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat; add garlic and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add dandelion greens and cook, stirring, until leaves are bright green and beginning to wilt. Taste again; greens should be considerably less bitter. Transfer mixture to a bowl and set aside
Add ½ tablespoon olive oil to the Dutch oven and then add baby leeks. Cook for a minute, stirring to make sure baby leeks do not burn and turning stove down if necessary. Add rice and stir to coat, about a minute, until opaque. Add vermouth and cook until almost all has evaporated.
Ladle about 1 cup of the warmed stock into rice mixture, constantly stirring, until almost all the liquid is absorbed by the rice. Continue adding remaining broth, 1 cup at a time, allowing rice to absorb liquid each time before adding more. Rice mixture should be barely simmering throughout additions. After 20 minutes, taste the rice. You want the finished rice to be slightly firm and creamy, with a bit of liquid remaining, not mushy. If the rice is tender, remove from heat. If rice needs a minute more, by all means, cook it a minute more, adding a bit more stock if necessary.
Off the heat, briskly stir in ricotta – any remaining liquid should come together with the cheese as the creamy finished risotto. Stir in reserved dandelion greens. Grate Pecorino Romano over risotto to taste, do the same with the black pepper. Finish the risotto with fresh orange zest (no pith) to taste. Stir and enjoy!
My most vivid childhood memories have to do with family and food. As a kid, I had the good fortune of having a mom who always encouraged trying new things, and two grandmothers who invited me into their kitchens at a young age. I enjoy cooking for the joy it brings me - sharing food with loved ones - and as a stress release. I turn to it equally during good times and bad. Now that I have two young children, I try to be conscientious about what we cook and eat. Right about the time I joined food52, I planted my first raised bed garden and joined a CSA; between the two I try to cook as sustainably and organically as I can. Although I'm usually cooking alone, my children are my favorite kitchen companions and I love cooking with them. I hope when they are grown they will look back fondly at our time spent in the kitchen, as they teach their loved ones about food-love.
Best of all, after years on the mainland for college and graduate school, I get to eat and cook and raise my children in my hometown of Honolulu, HI. When I'm not cooking, I am helping others grow their own organic food or teaching schoolchildren about art.