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Lemon-kale risotto

It is a New Year. Thusly and therefore, we should all be adhering to our resolutions: saving our pennies, eating more healthfully, flossing EVERY DAY (Yes, dental hygienist, I heard you hollering at me…), and quite possibly avoiding wine.

OK, let’s ignore that part about the wine.

But sometimes, even a healthy lifestyle deserves something satisfying and delicious, something that feels decadent, even if it’s healthy. And winter, no matter where one is living, deserves bright flavors that make the dark days sing.

This risotto is not quite as rich as the variety made with Arborio rice, but is a more-than-satisfying substitute. The brown rice gives it a nutty flavor and even more bite to the tooth, and the kale and white beans boost the nutrition to perfectly acceptable resolutionary levels. But the lemon juice and zest, added at different times during cooking, provide a sharp-bright flavor that will bring a smile to even the most wintry of faces. And there’s just enough butter and Parmaggiano-Reggiano to take the Spartan edge off this particular brand of health food.

Lemon-Kale Risotto
(Serves 4)

3 c. vegetable broth
2 c. water
Juice of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 large onion or 1 medium onion, chopped
One bunch kale, stemmed and sliced in ribbons
1 1/2 c. short-grain or medium-grain brown rice
1/4 c. + 1/2 c. dry white wine (not cooking wine)
4 Tbsp. butter, divided
1 c. cooked white beans
1/2 c. grated Parmaggiano-Reggiano cheese
Zest of 1 lemon
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

  1. Combine the broth, water and lemon juice in a pan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer.
  2. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute the onion until it is lightly brown and tender. Add the kale and 1/4 c. wine and sauté until the kale is wilted. Add the beans and cook until the beans are heated through. Season with salt and pepper, turn off the heat and leave the pan on the burner.
  3. Heat 2 Tbsp. butter in a saucepan until it’s bubbling. Add the rice and stir until the rice is coated with the butter. Add the wine and stir until the wine is absorbed. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
  4. Begin adding the hot broth mixture one ladleful at a time, stirring when the liquid is added, then approximately every minute until the liquid is absorbed. Do not let the rice get dry, but make sure the rice is not soupy before adding the next ladleful of broth mixture.
  5. When all the broth has been added and is nearly absorbed, add the lemon zest, the Parmaggiano-Reggiano and the remaining 2 Tbsp. of butter. Stir to combine. Then add in the kale mixture, stir to combine, and serve immediately.

This is my post for Weekend Herb Blogging, which is hosted this week by Rachel of The Crispy Cook. Please stop by at the end of the weekend for the full round-up of recipes from this week’s event!

11 Comments on “Lemon-kale risotto”

  1. #1 Susan
    on Jan 15th, 2009 at 8:19 am

    I have heard so much about kale and have yet to try it. I guess I better put that on my new years resolution list. I too have started using brown rice for my risotto. I thought there would be a big negative difference in taste but there wasn’t. It did take me almost twice as long to get the rice done but I feel the health benefits are worth it. Did you cook your own beans first or use canned. What kind of white beans.

  2. #2 inadvertentgardener
    on Jan 15th, 2009 at 10:32 am

    Susan, I cooked my own dried cannellini beans — the ones I used are from Seed Savers in Decorah, IA, which is a great source for heirloom beans. I had cooked up the beans the night before, then just tossed them into the risotto. And I wholeheartedly (whole-grainedly?) agree with you about the brown rice — it did take longer to cook, but it was delicious and absolutely worth it for the health benefits.

  3. #3
    on Jan 16th, 2009 at 8:38 am

    You are my hero for making risotto with brown rice. :) This is perfect resolution-making food… and it’s delicious too.

    I’ve not made a risotto with kale for quite some time! This is looking awfully good.

  4. #4
    on Jan 16th, 2009 at 9:23 am

    I’ve always known I need to get more dark leafy greens into my diet. I love spinach, but the more bitter greens are, well, too bitter for me. I think this recipe is just the type of dish to turn me around! (and, oh yes, butter and parm — improves everything!!)

  5. #5 inadvertentgardener
    on Jan 17th, 2009 at 5:56 am

    Foodhappens, it was *so* good. I definitely recommend giving it a try.

    Lydia, there really was no bitterness to this at all — it’s a great way to get in some of that green action!

  6. #6
    on Jan 17th, 2009 at 9:57 am

    I had some glorious, sweet kale last week, simply stir-fried with garlic and oil and this looks like another great way to get my kale in.

  7. #7
    on Jan 19th, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    Why the $#$%# would you give up wine?
    If you’re trying to save money there is always two-buck Chuck.
    Just kidding.
    This recipe looks so warm and comfy especially for this cold winter
    we’ve been having.
    Have you broken the news to all your friends back East that it’s been in the 70′s for the past week and a half here?
    How does it feel to not shovel snow this winter?
    Do you love it?

  8. #8 inadvertentgardener
    on Jan 25th, 2009 at 10:49 am

    Wheat-free-meat-free, stir-fried kale is delicious, too!

    Chigiy, I try v. hard not to gloat to my friends east of here about the weather out here. I do try. But sometimes? I do not succeed. ;-)

  9. #9 Our First Harvest « Ohana Blog
    on Apr 26th, 2009 at 8:39 pm

    [...] for its nutritional value (tons of Vitamin A and C according to this site).

  10. #10 Saucey7
    on Feb 5th, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    I’ve made this recipe twice now. The first time I didn’t have white wine, but the second time I did. I didn’t notice a difference between the two! So I’ll skip the wine from now on. This is now one of my favorite recipes. The lemon zest is definitely the key. It gives this comfort food a light and refreshing kick. This certainly will be a staple dish from now on! Thanks so much!

  11. #11 inadvertentgardener
    on Feb 9th, 2010 at 7:26 am

    Saucey7, so glad to hear the field report! And I’m really glad you enjoyed the recipe — I appreciate the feedback. Happy cooking!

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