Just because it’s winter, that doesn’t mean you have to skimp on the vegetables! Make the most of the season’s veggies by whipping up this delicious risotto with kale and winter squash. It’s the perfect comforting, hearty, and vegetarian meal for a cold winter’s day.
2 cups kale or hearty greens, stemmed, tossed in olive oil
1 cup winter squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1″ cubes
½ cup onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
Coarsely ground black pepper
1½ cups parcooked Risotto
2 sprigs thyme
1. Preheat your oven to 450°F. Put the rack in the middle. Spread the kale on a cookie sheet.
2. In a 4- to 5-quart heavy-bottomed pot, place the squash, onion, garlic and bay leaf. Cover with water. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Cook until the squash is fork-tender, 10 minutes or so. Strain, reserving 2 cups of liquid. The rest of the water is a good start for a vegetable stock.
3. In the same pot, add the rice to the squash mixture, with enough of the reserved liquid to just cover. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Stir constantly, but gently so that you don’t destroy the chunks of squash entirely. Some will deteriorate, which will flavor the rice.
4. As the water disappears, keep adding more, just to cover. Keep stirring to develop that risotto creaminess.
5. When you’ve used up half of the water, pop the greens into the oven. Cook them until light brown on the edges and the color has brightened up, about 8 minutes.
6. Add the thyme to the rice at this point. When you have run out of water, the rice should be tender, creaminess all around. If not, keep adding liquid, and stir, stir, stir. In the end it should be firm enough that the rice will pile rather than pour.
7. Pile it onto a warm platter with the kale around the edges. With the woodstove a-crankin, and the best company, it will be delightful.
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Kerry Altiero is the chef/owner of Cafe Miranda, a popular and multi-cuisine restaurant in Rockland, Maine. Kerry won Maine’s Lobster Chef of the Year in 2012 and Cafe Miranda was named Best Farm to Table Restaurant in 2013.