Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Lemon risotto with kale

Risotto is one of my favorite ways to feel like I'm eating pasta without eating pasta (since it's rice, and is therefore gluten free!). And it's also one of my favorite weeknight meals. Peter used to be our resident risotto-maker because I was a bit scared of it, what with all the stirring, stirring, stirring. But it's really a very forgiving dish, and it's made mostly with pantry staples, like rice, garlic, onion, and wine.

This one has the same super-comforting elements that all risotto dishes have, but the lemon and greens made it feel just a little bit more springy to me. And I'm desperate for spring any place I can get it these days.

Lemon risotto with kale

You will need:
2 cups of vegetable broth or chicken stock
Juice of 1 lemon
1 strip of bacon, cut when raw into bite sized pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
One cup of kale, stemmed and sliced in ribbons
1 cup short-grain rice (like Arborio)
Splash of dry white wine
Grated Parmesan cheese
Zest of 1 lemon
Zest the lemon and set it aside. I find it hard to zest a lemon once the juice has been squeezed out!
Combine the broth or stock with the lemon juice in a pan over medium heat. Bring to a gentle simmer.

In a dutch oven or other large pot, cook the bacon pieces until nice and crispy. Add a splash of olive oil or a little butter to the bacon, and also the onion and garlic to the pot. Don't remove that delicious bacon fat!

Cook until onions and garlic are lightly brown and tender, but be careful not to burn them. Add the rice and stir until coated with the butter and crackling a little bit -- about 2 minutes. Add a splash of wine and stir until the wine is absorbed.

Begin adding the hot broth mixture one ladleful at a time, stirring when the liquid is added. Add another ladleful after the liquid is absorbed. Do not let the rice get dry, but make sure it's not soupy at all before adding the next ladleful of broth mixture.

When half the broth has been added, stir in the chopped kale. Continue adding the broth until the rice is soft, but still has a little bit of a bite in the center. Add the lemon zest, Parmesan cheese and another nob of butter. Stir to combine. Serve immediately.

*There are an endless number of variations to this dish. I love adding roasted beets, squash, Swiss chard, cauliflower, peas, asparagus, tomatoes and corn. It's really hard to go wrong!

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