Thursday, May 8, 2008

Fregola Risotto-Style w/Chard & Feta, Baby Beets

Another installment from "The Flexitarian Table" - Spring Menu 10: Fregola Risotto-Style with Chard & Feta Cheese, Mache & Pea Shoots w/Baby Beets & Mustard Vinaigrette

I did this last night after hunting over hill & dale (well, all across Irvine anyway) for Fregola Sarda. I found at Whole Paycheck, of course... I could have substitued Israeli couscous at half the price, but the toasted fregola just looked too lovely to pass up.
I started by getting the baby beets roasted for the salad, then peeling & cutting them up into little matchsticks. The vinaigrette is a simple mustard emulsion with the addition of some toasted mustard seed. The beets are then chilled, and later tossed with mache & pea shoots. I actually passed on spending another $8 for mache & pea shoots at WF, maybe next time. I just tossed with a bit of spring greens mix. I didn't realize ahead of time that my husband doesn't like beets, but he said "these were better than I thought they would be". I guess I can take that as a complement. The 9 year old wasn't fond of them either, so this is probably not going to make a repeat performance.
The fregola was pretty prep intensive, lots of veggies to cut up. First mirepoix and the chard stems are sauteed in butter & olive oil until soft:

Next comes the mushrooms, garlic & thyme:

Add the fregola & saute until toasty smelling:

I made the vegetable stock in the book (without the kombu), but I could have used chicken stock - isn't this pretty?
And simmer until the fregola is al dente, then add the chard leaves, and the feta just before serving
I put together the "5 minute bread" the day before, so baked a loaf just before starting to cook dinner, with some whole wheat flour substituted for the regular flour. Nice & chewy, I love the crust on this bread! We all agreed that this meal didn't seem very Spring-like. It was so earthy from the beets, toasted pasta, chard & mushrooms that I might classify it as more of a Fall dish. Despite that, it was very tasty, and terribly healthy.

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