Sweet Onion Risotto With Sautéed Kale Plus MVK’s Like of the Week!

Sunrise, Sunset.

Sunrise, Sunset.

Last week I brought you several comforting recipes to get you through January. Well, add one more to the list! Even though we’ve had more rain than snow this winter and it’s been in the 30s and 40s (a virtual heat wave by Vermont standards), it’s still that time of year you want something warm and healthy to eat at supper time!

With fewer calories and fat than macaroni and cheese or pasta, I think there’s something special about a warm, creamy bowl of risotto. To me it’s like a savory rice pudding for dinner! And this recipe includes the added benefits of some sautéed kale with nuts and raisins (which would be a delicious side dish anytime, or on its own), so you have a complete meal all in one bowl!

While the ingredient list may seem daunting, it’s the constant stirring that takes the time. I made this on a weekend, but you could certainly do this on a weeknight. And I’ll be honest, when I make risotto, I sometimes cheat. I’ll make sure the burner isn’t set too high, so when add the stock, stir, I will sometimes step away for a couple of minutes. And then rapidly stir when I get back to make up for my absence! Vegetarians can substitute either water or vegetable stock in place of the chicken stock.

The added bonus of this recipe is it actually makes three recipes! Set aside some of the risotto for Cauliflower Risotto Cakes and Italian Wedding Risotto Soup. (Recipes below.) I put my batch in the freezer to make these dishes later on!

Happy Cooking!

Sweet Onion Risotto with Sautéed Kale

This recipe first appeared in the December 2015 issue of Cooking Light magazine

3 cups water
2 1/4 cups uncooked short-grain brown rice
3 cups unsalted chicken stock (such as Swanson)
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
3 cups chopped sweet onion
3 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 cup dry white wine
5/8 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
5/8 teaspoon black pepper, divided
2 ounces shredded Gruyère cheese (about 1/2 cup)
3 1/2 cups chopped Lacinato kale
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1 teaspoon white vinegar

1. Combine 3 cups water and rice in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes. Drain rice in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1 1/3 cups cooking liquid. Combine 1 1/3 cups cooking liquid and stock in a medium saucepan over medium heat; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low; keep warm.

2. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 3 1/2 tablespoons oil; swirl to coat. Add onion and garlic to pan; sauté 8 minutes. Add rice to pan; cook 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add wine; cook 2 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add 1/2 cup stock mixture to pan; cook 2 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add remaining stock mixture, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring almost constantly until each portion is absorbed before adding the next (about 30 minutes). Reserve 3 cups risotto for Cauliflower Risotto Cakes and Italian Wedding Risotto Soup. Stir 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and cheese into remaining 3 1/2 cups risotto.

3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add kale to pan; cook 3 minutes or until kale is slightly wilted. Stir in remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/8 teaspoon pepper, raisins, toasted pecans, and vinegar; sauté for 1 minute. Top risotto with kale mixture.

Cauliflower Risotto Cakes

Italian Wedding Risotto Soup

bfMVK’s *Like* of the Week: Buzz Feed Food
I’ve always thought of the website www.buzzfeed.com as a fun pop culture website, not one where I would get “real” stories. That changed a couple of months ago when I signed up to get their weekly food newsletters. Their stories are fun and full of information! With an emphasis on healthy eating (“18 Healthyish Slow Cooker Stews to Get You Through the Rest of Your Winter”), fun graphics (“17 Charts to Help You Eat Healthy), and sometimes silly (“Grandparents Predict the Food Trends of 2016”), it’s a fun way to get more recipes, learn about health, and have a laugh along the way! You can check it out at Buzz Feed Food!


Last-Minute Rice Salad with Mediterranean Spices and Vegetables

OK, so this may not be considered truly Mediterranean, but it certainly was last-minute! But on the plus side it’s healthy, vegan, gluten-free, and got rounds of compliments around the dinner table, from readers of this blog!

Sunday afternoon, we returned home following a trip to the grocery store and coop. I had plans for a Sunday dinner of roasted chicken and cooking for the coming week. I hadn’t even finished unpacking my bags when we received a phone call from friends inviting us to dinner. I was staring at the container of rice I had taken out of the freezer for dinner, knew I had some dilly beans, and had cukes in the fridge to whip up a Szechuan Cucumber salad. So with only a little time to create a totally on-the-fly salad that was delicious for guests as opposed to the home table, we agreed.

I had about two cups of brown rice I took out of the freezer that morning to thaw. That was ready to go. I took about a cup of frozen corn and edamame from the freezer, placed it in a bowl, and did other things while they thawed, then added it to the rice in a large bowl. This was all well and good, but it needed something more. I added some chopped scallions, which gave it a subtle onion flavor. I had about a cup of cooked heirloom beans from Rancho Gordo (Snowcaps) in the freezer that I thought would add a little more fiber and oomph. But they were large and I knew they wouldn’t thaw in time. I put them in a small skillet with a little bit of water and put them on low heat to warm. I think any bean would be tasty; black beans would go especially well with this.

For the dressing, I planned to make a citrus and spice mixture. In the Splendid Table’s cookbook How to Eat Supper (which is wonderful, by the way), Lynn Rosetto Kasper has a spice mixture called “Crossover Spice.” * (¼ cup ground cumin, ½ cup ground coriander, 1/8 cup (2 TBS) fresh ground black pepper. Mix and seal. They say it lasts 3-4 months in a dark, cool cupboard, but I’ve had mine longer and it is still incredibly fresh.) I always add a little bit to dressings and meats whenever I want a bit of flavor. I find it very potent, so a little goes a long way. I looked at my citrus situation. Half a lemon and half a lime. I was cursing myself that I didn’t get any limes at the store–until I remembered! About a month ago, I bought a bag of limes that were on sale with the thought of having a summer of margaritas, but which never came to fruition. They were in the depths of the vegetable bin and still good! The juice of that one extra lime plus a half teaspoon of the Crossover Spice and I was set. Simple, delicious, virtually no chopping, and it was ready on time!

I had this for lunch later that week and it was even better with a little spritz of extra lime juice and I added some leftover fresh corn. For a more substantial salad, you could always add some cooked chicken or fish. I served mine simply over greens and it was delicious.

Dinner with friends who are like family was wonderful. Chicken and shrimp kabobs, green salad, with a few sips of homemade Mead and Chocolate Cherry Stout (or was it Cherry Chocolate Stout? Maybe I had too many sips!). Nathan has been perfecting his brews and I was interested to learn the complexities of making beer. I’ve also never had tasted Mead before. To some, cooking might seem like a foreign language, but to me, it’s beer making!

Last-Minute Rice Salad with Mediterranean Spices and Vegetables
 2 cups cooked rice
1 cup frozen corn, thawed, or fresh if you have it
1 cup frozen edamame, thawed
1 cup cooked beans, whichever you choose
½ cup chopped scallions

Lime Dressing
Juice of one lemon
Juice of 1 ½-2 limes, or to taste
½ teaspoon Crossover Spice*

Put all the salad ingredients into a large bowl. Whisk the dressing in a separate bowl and toss with the salad before serving. Top with chopped scallions, if desired.