I went to the farmers’ market over the weekend and went on a greens binge. Among other things, I got my beloved arugula and a bunch of dandelion leaves. I’ve never cooked dandelion before, but the bunch was only a dollar so I couldn’t resist. I thought the bittery, peppery flavors of these greens would work well in a risotto dish.
The recipe is my own creation. I just worked off of the basic risotto technique and incorporated flavors I knew would work well together. Bacon and bitter greens has always been a heavenly combo for me, particularly when there’s cheese involved, so I’m happy to have created another vessel to enjoy that.
If you can find both dandelion and arugula, I would strongly recommend using both. I think dandelion on its own might be a little strong, but mixed in with the other ingredients, it gives an unexpected kick to the dish. Arugula on its own would be delicious too, or mix it with a milder green like spinach if you aren’t a big fan of bitter, pungent greens.
1 cup arborio rice
4-5 cups broth or water (I use half water and half broth, it helps control the salt)
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 strips of bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 shallot, finely minced
3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
3 cups (approximately) of coursely chopped arugula (and dandelion if you can find it)
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1-2 tablespoons butter
In a sauce pan, bring the water or chicken broth to a simmer. While that is warming, cook sliced bacon in a large, heavy pan. Over medium heat, add shallots and garlic and saute lightly until golden.
Add the arborio rice to the bacon mixture and stir for about 2 minutes, until the rice is coated in oil and starts to turn translucent. Add the wine and simmer until all the liquid is absorbed, stirring occassionally.
Using a ladle, slowly add the water or broth to the rice. Add 1-2 ladles at a time, stirring occassionally. When the liquid is just about absorbed, repeat until all the liquid is gone or until rice is soft but not too gummy.
When all the liquid has been added and the rice is cooked, turn the heat down to low and add the greens, one cup or so at a time, followed by a stir. This will lightly wilt the greens but keep them from turning too mushy. Once the greens have all been added, stir in a pat of butter and the parmesan cheese. Stir until the butter has melted and the cheese has been absorbed.
Season with salt and pepper and serve!