Italian Cooking & Language Blog

Fare La Scarpetta means to wipe your plate clean with a piece of bread.

What else could you ask for?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Buono!: Kale Risotto

Since I keep reading about how kale is a super food, I was lulled into buying the most gigantic bag of kale. After sautéing some for a side dish one night, mixing some into a pasta sauce with Italian sausage another, roasting some until the leaves got crispy like chips and then adding the rest to a soup, I had too many plastic containers of kale in my fridge.

I decided to repurpose my kale soup (garlic, salt, pepper, kale and water) and make risotto.

Risotto (Arborio rice cooked slowly in broth with other ingredients, usually spices or vegetables) is a fairly forgiving dish. Like pasta, it is a great base for your favorite flavors and vegetables. And leftovers.

There are only a few basic steps to follow before adding your own touch:

-- Buy Arborio rice. You can call other things, like a bowl of peas “risotto”, but it isn’t.

-- Quickly sauté the rice in olive oil before adding the broth (or other liquids, like wine.) This will help the individual rice kernels to keep their shells’ integrity instead of breaking down and becoming quite mushy.

-- If you keep stirring hot (read: boiling) liquid into the rice in a pot over low heat, the rice will cook without burning. 

Here’s a good, basic recipe for risotto. Most recipes call for grated cheese mixed in as you are cooking, but I reserve the cheese for a garnish later. I also rarely add the wine, unless I have some leftover.

Risotto can be quite healthy. Tuscans rarely add heavy cream to their risotto and you don’t need to because the rice becomes creamy on its own through slow cooking. You can also rely on olive oil, instead of butter, when you start the dish.

For my kale risotto, I used the kale soup as the broth. When I first sautéed the rice, I adding four heads of crushed garlic and extra hot pepper.

You can’t go wrong, unless, perhaps, if you try to cook your lovely rice in the microwave.

What’s your favorite risotto recipe?

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