Artichoke Kale Risotto
Here’s an obvious, yet much needed statement to get off my chest: we are living in dark and confusing times right now. Being forced to stay inside and socially distance is a supreme opportunity to self-reflect and take care of ourselves. It’s hard to frame it like that, but it is true. This time is also an opportunity to enjoy the beautiful art of cooking, or if cooking isn’t your jam, then whatever creative activity you enjoy the most. For me, it’s obviously cooking. The only drawback to my love for cooking right now is getting my hands on ingredients, which are now scarce in stores. So in order to adapt, my upcoming recipes will be simple and incorporate pantry staples, canned foods and frozen foods. Of course, what I have in my kitchen is different than what you have, so feel free to improvise with these recipes as much as you see fit. More importantly, continue to nourish yourselves and try to stay happy and positive! We got this.
There’s no time like the present to tackle some risotto. And with my method, you really don’t have to stand at the stove to stir the entire time. Sure, that’s welcome, but it’s not necessary. I know we all have different ingredients, so use whatever you have for this. You can also make this completely without cheese or milk. If you choose to do that, just make sure you salt the risotto enough so that it’s not too zesty (there’s a lot of artichoke and lemon influence here.) Another thing I want to note is that white wine and lemon juice are also optional. You can solely use chicken (or vegetable) broth or stock and add the liquid from the artichokes. You can also add more artichokes. For greens, I do recommend spinach or kale, frozen or fresh. Don’t have artichokes? Follow the steps with canned mushrooms. Risotto is versatile and you got this. You truly cannot f*ck this up, unless you over cook your risotto and it becomes mush, which can be avoided by simply tasting your grain and removing it from the heat right before it’s tender! The rice will continue to cook as it sits on the stove, even if you don’t intend for it to. Speaking of rice, arborio rice is the best, BUT you can make this with other rice or grains (such as farro.) The recipe will be different because every grain absorbs liquid differently and may take a longer or shorter time, but tasting the grain will help you figure out when it is ready. Ok, now it’s risotto time.
Creamy Artichoke Kale Risotto
- 2 cups arborio rice can be subbed for another grain
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 1 white onion diced
- 4 cups chicken broth or stock (stock is preferred, but I used broth because that is all I had) can be subbed for vegetable broth or stock
- 1 cup white wine
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 can artichoke hearts can add 1 more can if you want more artichoke flavor
- 1/2 cup half and half
- 4 tbsp butter delicious, but not necessary
- 1 1/4 cup pecorino can be subbed for Parmesan. 1 cup for risotto and 1/4 cup for topping
- Parsley, chopped leaves and stems for topping (optional)
- Black pepper for topping (optional)
- Lemon zest for topping (optional)
- 1 cup kale or spinach finely chopped, frozen or fresh (optional)
- If using fresh spinach or kale, wash, finely chop and set aside. If using frozen, place 1 cup in a bowl to defrost.
- Drain the liquid from the can of artichokes and set aside.
- Slice the artichoke hearts. One artichoke heart should yield 3-5 slices.
- In a large pot, pour in the chicken broth, artichoke liquid, lemon juice and white wine. Add salt to taste. Heat on medium high until the mixture is boiling, then reduce the heat to a simmer so the liquid stays comfortably hot. (You don't want the mixture boiling for long, just enough to heat it up.)
- Season a stock pot or large pot with olive oil over medium heat. Add the white onion and sauté for 3 minutes, until soft and tender. If your pan begins to feel “dry,” feel free to add another splash of olive oil to the onions while you sauté to add moisture.
- Add the garlic and sauté another 2-3 minutes on medium or medium low heat.
- Add the artichoke hearts to the garlic and onion mixture. Sauté for 3 minutes. Feel free to season with more olive oil for moisture.
- Add 2 tbsp of butter to the mixture and stir until melted and fully incorporated into the onion artichoke mixture, about 2 minutes. If, by the grace of God, you have cultured butter laying around — I do recommend using it here due to its tangy taste. If not, regular butter is great (salted or unsalted.) If forgoing butter, add another splash of olive oil for moisture.
- Now it's time to add the rice! With the heat on medium low, add all of the rice to the pot with the artichoke onion mixture. Stir for 3-4 minutes so that the rice can absorb the oil and butter, while also allowing the grain to toast.
- Add enough of the chicken broth mixture to just cover the rice (about a ladle full, or half a cup.) Stir so that the rice is fully coated in the liquid. You can handle the next steps however you see fit. Option 1: continue stirring the rice until the liquid is absorbed. Option 2: After stirring the rice and fully coating it, put the lid over the pot and let it sit for another 3-4 minutes until absorbed. I’ve tried both and feel confident in the lid method, but the traditional method is to continue stirring almost constantly. Time is all dependent on how much liquid you put into the pot, so check up on it a few times.
- Repeat the previous step 3-5 times, until the rice is cooked to your liking. I prefer to stop adding more liquid once the rice is tender, but a little al dente. The rice does continue to absorb even after removed from the heat, so make sure you account for that. Please also note: you do not have to use all the liquid in this recipe, your grain will tell you when its ready!
- When the risotto is cooked to your liking, adjust the heat to low. Mix in 2 more tbsp butter (if using), 1/2 cup of half and half, and the pecorino cheese. Salt more to taste if needed. Remove the risotto from the heat.
- If mixing in a leafy green such as kale or spinach, stir a handful into the risotto until the color of the leaves changes to a darker green. This should take about 1 minute.
- If, during this time, the risotto seems to have absorbed all of the liquid and is still too al dente OR if the risotto seems to be too starchy/sticky and you want more moisture ,do not hesitate to add a small splash of the chicken broth mixture to the final risotto and mix until it's fully incorporated. This will give it an extra drink of moisture before serving. Continue to do this until the risotto reaches your desired taste.
- Top however you see fit. If you are topping with protein or vegetables, cook them as the risotto is cooking so that everything is done on time.