I was emailing someone about risotto recipes recently (you know who you are if you’re reading this), and it got me craving a bowl of the good stuff. As I’ve mentioned before, I cook risottos pretty often. They’re so versatile – I don’t think I could ever get bored of them. This version works really well, with the sweetness of tomato balancing the iron-rich kale, and the heat of chilli dancing through the whole thing. I used red kale here, but any kale would work, in fact, I think any greens would work. Now I come to think of it, the first version of this I made was with leeks and thyme. But red kale was what I had this time around, so that’s what I used, and it was delicious. I swapped the thyme for Greek basil – similar to regular basil, but with smaller leaves that have a more peppery taste.
100g risotto rice
1 onion, diced
1 celery stick, diced
100g kale, stems diced and leaves shredded
50g sundried tomatoes, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
50g red pesto
20g parmesan, finely grated
About 700ml stock
1 tbsp. oil
Cracked black pepper
About 1 handful basil (torn if you’re using regular basil)
Sweet fresh tomatoes, to serve
Begin by frying the onion, celery and diced kale stems over a medium heat, stirring to make sure it doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pan. In a separate pan, heat your stock, then keep it on a simmer.
After the onion has started to soften and turn golden, add the rice. Stir to coat it in the oil, then add a ladleful of stock to the pan. Cook, stirring every now and then, until the rice has absorbed the stock. Throw in the garlic, sundried tomatoes, pesto, and the shredded kale, stir through, then add another ladle of stock, stirring every now and then. Repeat… And repeat some more.
After about twenty minutes, the rice should be almost cooked. Season with plenty of black pepper and chilli flakes to taste. Stir through the grated parmesan. Continue to cook until the rice has reached the consistency you like – in this recipe, I like it to be al dente.
Finally, stir through the basil immediately before serving. Garnish with halved cherry tomatoes, if you like.