CSA: Week six, Risotto allo spazzacamino

No Week 5 CSA box–since I was going to Oregon I had a friend from work pick it up.

Before vacation I picked up two half shares (which is not equal to a whole share, since there are different veggies for each), because we were about to head off to the lake for the week and I wanted to prep as much as possible to take with us.

The goods (Double quantities):
-2 bunches spring onions
-2 bunches cavolo nero (black kale)
-3 eggplants (two long purple; one white–these died a tragic lakeside fridge death, ie. they got abandoned all week in the back of the overstuffed fridge. Eek!)
-4 baby fennel bulbs
-1 pound string beans
-800 more cucumbers (1.5 pounds? 2 pounds?)

When I saw cavolo nero tucked in with the stuff in the Chard box I grabbed it immediately, remembering a variety of delicious things made with the stuff when I was last in Italy with my family. Sure enough, I got home and went to the journal entry for a big dinner we had at Le Lance, a restaurant in Fiezole outside of Florence, and found that Ben’s primi course was a “Risotto allo spazzacamino” with cavolo nero, gorgonzola and cannellini beans.

Some google work turned up a variety of cavolo nero/cannellini combos in Tuscan cooking, and I decided to take advantage of the oddly cool weather to reproduce the risotto in question.

It turns out “spazzacamino” means chimney sweep–I seem to remember Ben’s risotto at the restaurant being colored dark green/black by the kale, though that didn’t happen in mine, and I wonder if that is where the name comes from? (On a side note, there is a gelato flavor called Spazzacamino, which contains finely ground espresso beans and scotch. Wow.) Many of the recipes I found with that in the name contain truffles, though I did find a risotto with the cavolo nero and black beans (no mention of gorgonzola).

ANYWAY, I went with what I’d written down. I cleaned the kale and found that the first bunch was still all attached to the stems:

Which meant there was a variety of leaf sizes–I was, of course, charmed by the tiny ones:

I set aside all the smallish ones to blanch for pizza at the lake, and chopped up the rest of that bunch for the risotto. I also rinsed the beans and, um, opened a container of crumbled gorgonzola from Whole Foods. Sigh. I was at the small one! Options were limited! I still have a lot of this left, even after pizza-making too.

I cooked the risotto about halfway before adding in the cavolo nero. Next time I will put it in right at the beginning, as soon as I’ve put in the first round of broth. I think in the one Ben had the kale had dissolved into it more, blackening the rice. I added the beans almost at the very end, so they just heated up, and stirred in gorgonzola once it was finished. I sprinkled a little on top, too, but next time I’ll leave that off.

Verdict: Tasty but needs tweaking. Kale first, next time!

As a special bonus, when I was flipping through the trip notes I found one of my food sketches, detailing the filling in a series of ridiculously good sandwiches at a foccaceria where we ate lunch a couple times. These are spring fillings but don’t they make you want a foccacia sandwich?

5 thoughts on “CSA: Week six, Risotto allo spazzacamino”

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  2. Cavolo nero!!! I LIVE for it!!! Omigod, there is this cavolo nero dish at AOC (Suzanne Goin’s other restaurant) that is so divine, I crave it constantly … it’s just strips of it cooked for about 45 minutes, until it’s crispy. Wow.
    my pal Zac came to a pot luck at my place last night with Cavolo Nero chips. They were amazing – people pounced on them and they were devoured within minutes. I HAVE to get you the recipe!

    I’m trying this risotto – how could I not love it? You always make the BEST things, Kate!

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