Creamy Parmesan Risotto with Kale Pesto

Feb 1, 2016 | Food | 2 comments

By Mary Clay Kline

Hey, hi, hello, and welcome to the Alice Food Blog!

Here’s to hoping the semester has included staying up late binge-watching Scandal with your closest friends (I mean, um, studying, duh), joining that student group you’ve been eyeing, trying out a fun new exercise class at the rec center, and taking interesting classes from cool professors.

Because college is fun!  College is the best!  

But college can also be stressful. This I also know.

That’s why this cozy, creamy, parmesany risotto with bright and flavorful kale pesto is here to wrap you in a warm I-don’t-want-to-wake-up-at-8-a.m. hug.

Risotto is one of my favorite things to make when I need a little “me” time, a commodity we’ll all desire as we’re getting used to lots of new: new professors and new schedules, new friends and new lifestyles.  

Risotto gets a bad name for being difficult or time-consuming, because people think they need to stand over the stovetop and slave away.

Not even half-true.

Risotto is the perfect cost-effective and delicious cold weather treat that’s worth any time you’d spend stirring.  And good news: you don’t really have to stir that much.

And this kale pesto! I’m sure you know that kale’s gotten lots of hype over recent years, and if you’re not a kale fan now, this pesto will make you one. Pinky swear. It’s even great on scrambled eggs, toast, all the sandwiches, salads and baked potatoes.

Hearty kale and fresh herbs, shredded parm, zesty lemon, and heart-healthy olive oil – who could resist?

Put a little pesto in your bowl of risotto to brighten things up a bit. Add some balsamic reduction,  and a little extra parm. You’ll sink into your chair and have to stay there for a while.  That’s okay, it’s your first few weeks back at college.  You need a break.
You’ll thank me later.

Risotto Ingredients

2 Tablespoons oil (canola, vegetable, olive, grapeseed, etc)

4-5 cups vegetable or chicken stock

1 medium onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 ½ cups arborio (or risotto) rice

⅓ cup dry white wine (if desired)

1 c shredded parmesan (this is my favorite)

1 t salt

hefty pinch black pepper

kale pesto (recipe follows), balsamic vinegar, and extra parmesan for topping

Pesto Ingredients

2 leaves curly kale, stripped from stems, chopped

⅓ cup chopped parsley

2 Tablespoons chopped chives

⅓ cup shredded parmesan

2 cloves garlic, minced

⅓ cup pecans, roughly chopped

½ lemon, juiced

⅓-½ cup extra virgin olive oil

pinch of salt and pepper

Risotto Cooking Directions

Serves 4.

  1. Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pot, like a dutch oven or deep cast iron skillet.  Heat stock to a simmer.
  2. Add onion to heated pot or skillet, and cook until softened, about 3-4 minutes.  Add garlic and stir.  Then toast the rice in the pan for 1-2 minutes.  Deglaze pan with wine or ½ cup stock.
  3. Slowly add warm stock to the rice, about 1 cup at a time, stirring as you add.  You can continue to stir, or just stir every so often, until there is only a little stock remaining in the pot.  Add the remaining stock in the same way, in 1 cup increments, until rice is cooked throughout.
  4. Stir in parmesan, salt, and pepper.  Garnish with pesto, balsamic vinegar, and more shredded parmesan.


Pesto Cooking Directions

Serves 4, with some pesto left over.

  1. Combine kale, parsley, chives, parmesan, garlic, pecans, and lemon juice to the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse until combined.  
  2. Slowly stream in olive oil until desired consistency is reached.  Season with salt and pepper.