I recently realized that I love green foods. And I don’t mean plants, lettuce, broccoli, and peas (although I love them too). What I mean by green foods is any edible item that is the color green – I feel somewhat attracted to it, like this Kale Risotto. Not only because it comes with a “healthy” idea attached to it. I’m talking about the visual of the color green; in food, it translates really well. It makes the food look alive, fresh, and energetic. – the opposite of gray. It’s been a while now that gray is one of the hottest colors in home décor and interior design. I remodeled my own kitchen to make it white and gray (or gray and white). Bring gray to food. Huh??? No, let’s not do that. Gray, in the world of food, is one of the most unattractive colors. It doesn’t look good, or appetizing, or fresh!
Following that remark, I started to follow green and preparations of green food. I came across a Kale sauce recently, in which I mixed it into mashed potatoes, pasta, and then I thought, why not mix a kale sauce into risotto? Many times, I made a pesto risotto, and that too is delicious. The concept in this Kale Risotto is not that different. The taste, on the other hand, being that this kale sauce is very concentrated, mimics the essence of kale, while a pesto sauce calls for many different ingredients. Even a pesto made with basil doesn’t taste just like basil. It tastes like pesto, in which basil is one of the main ingredients. Here, the kale plays the main character, not the supporting role. The kale sauce can be done a good five days ahead of time or it can be frozen. Every time I prepare a batch of kale sauce, I double or triple the recipe and freeze part of it since it tastes so good and freezes so well. The rest of the recipe is plain risotto – classic and traditional. Garnish with some fresh parmesan cheese and a drizzle of olive oil and you have yourself a sexy green dinner!
For the Kale Sauce:
Kosher Salt, to taste
¼ cup olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 bunch (about 1 lb) lucinato kale, thick ribs removed
For the Risotto:
4 cups chicken stock
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Freshly ground nutmeg
1 cup (236g) Arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Prepare the Kale Sauce: Bring a pot of water to a boil and add salt.
- Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over low heat, warm the olive oil with garlic, and cook it just starts to turn golden. When it does, remove it from the heat.
- Plunge the kale leaves into boiling water at once and cook until it’s just tender,
2-3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove kale from the water, letting most of the water drip onto a bowl, and place them directly into the bowl of a food processor.
- Beat the kale, and with the machine running, add the olive oil with garlic in a steady stream. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
- Scrape into a bowl and keep in the fridge until needed. You can also freeze this kale essence for up to 2 months.
- Prepare the Risotto: In a medium saucepan bring the stock to a simmer.
- In another large, heavy saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent, about 2 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
- Add the rice and stir frequently, until the grains are warm, shiny, and coated with the onion mixture, about 3 minutes.
- Add the wine and bring to a boil until the liquid is almost absorbed about 2 minutes.
- Slowly add one ladle of simmering stock and allow the rice to cook, stirring often until the liquid is absorbed. Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Add another ladle and repeat the process. Continue adding ladles of stock only when the previous addition has been completely absorbed. Cook until the rice is tender but still firm to the bite, 18 to 20 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
- Fold the kale sauce into the rice. Don’t let the risotto get too thick; if the rice seems to have absorbed all of the liquid, add another tablespoon or so of stock to achieve the right creamy consistency. Taste the dish, check for flavor and doneness. Finish with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Garnish with fresh Parmesan cheese and the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and serve immediately.
If you like this recipe, you might also enjoy Kale Chips on this site.
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