While waiting for the royalties (tomatoes, eggplants and zucchini) to take up their summer residence, the advance team in my potager includes assorted lettuces, swiss chard and sorrel.

I have always been a fan of sorrel but its sheer abundance and pungent personality have turned me into a manic groupie. Besides adding large handfuls of leaves to spinach and swiss chard greens before cooking to give them a wonderful lift, I have used it, with different degrees of success, in practically anything I could think of — from the classics like sorrel and potato soup and creamy sorrel sauce for fish, to chicken in papillotes, shredded in salads, wilted with fried eggs, and a less conventional salmon spread with sorrel puree, then wrapped in rice paper and pan-fried.

The following risotto with a distinct French accent is among the many keepers. Too lazy to run to the store to pick up some arborio rice and Parmesan cheese, I used instead a white round rice from Camargue that worked extremely well, and some Cantal cheese that had lost its youthful prettiness for the cheese tray but none of its inner beauty. I hope my Italian friends will forgive me….

Sorrel Risotto

Four to 6 servings

  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 5 cups sorrel leaves (see note)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ onion, minced
  • 2 cups white round rice from Camargue or Arborio rice
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup grated Cantal or Parmesan cheese, or more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh coriander or basil

Rinse the sorrel leaves but do not dry them. Cut into large strips and place them in a saucepan. Cover and cook over low heat until just wilted.

Bring the broth to a low simmer in a saucepan. Reduce heat to low to keep warm.

Heat the olive oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft but not brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the rice, stir to coat and continue stirring for 1 to 2 minutes until the rice becomes translucent. Add the wine and stir until almost evaporated.

Add 1 cup hot broth, season with salt and simmer until the liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently. Continue cooking and adding about 3/4 cup of broth at a time, stirring frequently and letting each addition be absorbed before adding the next. About 15 minutes into the cooking and just before adding the last of the broth, stir in the wilted sorrel. Continue cooking and stirring until the rice is tender and creamy but still al dente.

Remove from the heat. Add the butter and grated cheese and stir to blend. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately garnished with chopped coriander or basil.

Note: if sorrel is too pungent for your taste, you can substitute half of it with spinach.

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