Tag Archives: brown rice risotto

Kale Two Ways

22 Oct

Is kale the new spinach? Can kale cure all of your health woes, give you the strength of Superman (or Wonder Woman) and paint your house, all at the same time? Will drinking a kale smoothie every morning rid your body of toxins and send you on the path to greater enlightenment? According to the latest foodie news, all of this is possible though I caution against kale smoothies or any drink bearing resemblance to the slime that floats up from the bottom of lakes to ensnare unsuspecting swimmers’ feet. If you’re feeling sluggish in the morning and need a vegetable boost in your beverage, a Bloody Mary is a far better idea. I promise that enlightenment will be yours. However, if you find yourself staring at a bunch of kale and a) wondering if it’s really all it’s cracked up to be and b) if there’s a way to prepare kale that doesn’t involve your blender or a wheat grass supplement, the answer is yes, and put the blender down and/or walk away from the juice bar. Besides being packed full of nutrients, kale is delicious and like most leafy greens, versatile and easy to prepare. It’s also filling and unlike greens like chard and spinach, does not cook down to nothingness in a matter of moments. Kale is always a go-to for me and with the (admittedly slow in the Bay Area) advent of fall, it’s been showing up on my table even more. Kale is abundant in cooler months and it’s rich flavor and slightly chewy texture make it an excellent partner for other fall flavors, such as apples.

Here are two easy recipes I created this month. The first was my inaugural attempt at a brown rice risotto. The end result was delicious though I will probably keep tinkering with the recipe to find the easiest path to the right risotto texture. The second is a super quick salad–perfect after a long day when you don’t feel like making an effort in the kitchen but are trying to resist the lure of takeout. Usually I let kale salads marinate in an acidic dressing for an hour or so to soften up the leaves but if you have a nice tender bunch of kale (as we did) you can skip that step.

Kale and Apple Brown Rice Risotto

This risotto was definitely a bit chewier than when I’ve used white arborio rice but it still had the creamy texture you’d expect. In addition to being healthier (and less coma-inducing), the nutty flavor of the brown rice paired well with the fall flavors. We happened to have cashew cream in the house from a vegan soup experiment but you could always replace it with butter.


1 bunch kale, cut into ribbons (I used dinosaur kale)

1 box (or 4 cups) light vegetable broth (such as Imagine’s No-Chicken Broth) heated
1 cup short-grain brown rice
1 big apple, cubed
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c shredded Gruyere
1 onion, minced
1/3 c nut cream (I used cashew–could do butter instead)
Few sprigs thyme
1/3 c walnuts, chopped and toasted
1/3 c dry white wine
2 tbsp olive oil (more as needed)
Walnut oil and chives, to garnish
1) Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan on medium-low heat
2) Add the onion and saute until it’s softened and translucent
3) Season with salt and pepper
4) Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, being careful not to let the garlic burn
5) Add the rice and the time and stir to coat with the onion, garlic and oil
6) Add the wine and cook, stirring constantly, until the wine evaporates
7) Add about half the hot broth, in increments, stirring constantly and letting each addition of broth be incorporated before you add the next
8) Midway through this process, add the kale, cover the pot and let the kale wilt; this will take about 5 minutes
9) Add the remaining broth, lower the heat to a simmer, cover and cook 30 minutes or until rice is tender
10) Five minutes before the rice is done, add the cubed apple
11) When the rice is done, add the nut cream (or butter) and cheese, cover and let the mixture sit off the heat for 3 minutes
12) Add the nuts and stir to incorporate and season with salt and pepper as needed
13) Serve, garnishing each portion with a drizzle of walnut oil and a sprinkling of chives
Kale, Apple and Trout Salad
Salad Ingredients:
1 bunch kale, cut into ribbons
2 treviso radicchio, cut into strips
1 crisp, tart apple (such as Granny Smith), cubed
1 filet smoked trout, flaked
2 hard-boiled eggs, cut into quarters
1/3 c. walnuts, toasted and chopped
Dressing Ingredients:
Juice of one lemon
1 tbsp mustard
1-2 tbsp champagne vinegar (any wine or sherry vinegar would work)
Mix of olive and walnut oil, to taste (I prefer a dressing heavier on acid than oil)
Salt and pepper
1) Toss the kale and radicchio together and dress with 2/3 of the dressing
2) Let the salad sit about 30 minutes, if possible
3) Add the apples, walnuts and trout and toss with the remaining dressing, reserving a bit to drizzle on top
4) Plate the salad and top with the quartered eggs, drizzle with the reserved dressing and garnish with freshly ground pepper