Just over a week ago a delightful package of goodies landed on my doorstep, courtesy of the lovely Rebecca, promotions guru for The Wellness Show and writer of the food blog Cooking By Laptop. Nestled in with some fun product samples and passes to the show was a cookbook devoted to that hearty, leafy green used in many a deli and seafood display case – kale.
The Book Of Kale: The Easy To Grow Superfood is the work of local Vacouverite Sharon Hanna, who just happens to be presenting/cooking at The Wellness Show on Friday, February 15th. Not only does the book contain over 80 recipes featuring kale, but there is also a section on how to grow and harvest kale, the different varieties of kale, and why it is considered a superfood. In case you didn’t know – kale is an excellent Vitamins A, C, and K, and is a good source of calcium, iron, copper, potassium, and manganese, not to mention an array of phytonutrients. Basically, kale is a rockstar.
I quickly set out deciding on some recipes to try – Kale Chips weren’t gonna cut it, and thanks to a fellow intern I had already tried the Kale & Cranberry Crisps. I even had my mom and sister browse through to help me narrow down what I should make for this review. There were so many recipes that caught our attention such as:
- Savoury Kale Scones with Pumpkin & Cheese
- Lemony Kale & Goat Cheese Dip
- Ligurian Kale, Chard & Potato Torta
- Kale Gomae
- Autumn Kale Stew with Cornmeal Dumplings
- Relaxed Risotto with Kale, Garlic & Wild Mushrooms
- Kale, Salmon & Potato Cakes
- Corny Kale Enchiladas con Pollo
In fact, there was a recipe listed for Doukhobor Kale & Beet Borscht (and we all know how much I love my Grandpa’s Doukhobor Borscht) which had me a little excited, but upon reading the ingredient list and seeing things like ketchup, balsamic vinegar, and honey on the ingredient list, I questioned whether it should even be put in the same class of borscht as my families. Plus I had just made a giant batch of borscht the week before – one can only eat so much cabbage soup goodness!
Being indecisive, I settled on making both the scones and risotto. I then had a little poll on my Facebook page asking which recipe I should report back on and share with you all. Which, of course, ended in a tie!
So while the Savoury Kale Scones with Pumpkin & Cheese were rather delicious, and have made great lunch additions this week at internship, the risotto ended up winning out because it was, in a word, awesomesauce.
I dare to say this was the best risotto I have made. I don’t know that it is due entirely to the recipe – I think I have finally mastered the art of making a creamy, rich risotto. Perhaps it’s my mad cooking skills, perhaps it’s my cast iron Dutch oven, perhaps the stars were just aligned. Whatever it was, I enjoyed a gourmet dinner with leftovers chocked full of kale goodness.
I even used this “whole grain” (it’s at least brown) risotto rice I found awhile back in some little Italian grocer. I had to use Google Translator to figure out the cooking instructions – turns out you should soak the rice for 12 hrs before cooking so it doesn’t take as long. Perhaps had I read that more than 5 minutes before I was going to make dinner I could have eaten before 8 pm. Oops!
The flavours in this risotto were excellent – meaty mushrooms, salty parmesan cheese, aromatic onions and garlic, the bite from the wine, and of course the kale, which loses all bitterness but makes the dish ever so pretty. This is company worthy food.
Relaxed Risotto with Kale, Garlic & Wild Mushrooms
from The Book Of Kale by Sharon Hanna (reproduced with permission)
serves 3 – 4 as a main
- 15 g (1/2 oz) dried mushrooms or 200 g (7 oz) fresh mushrooms (I used shiitake and cremini)
- 5 cups vegetable or chicken stock (I went with chicken because it’s what I had)
- 5 – 6 large cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 cup onion, diced (I used 1 large onion)
- 1 cup + 2 tbsp Arborio rice
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 4 cups kale leaves tightly packed, chiffonade (I went with black kale)
- 1/2 cup Parmigiano-reggiano, grated, plus extra for serving
- salt & pepper to taste
1. If using dried mushrooms, reconstitute as directed. Drain, saving the liquid for the risotto, and chop the mushrooms finely. If using fresh, clean the mushrooms carefully, slice, and set aside.
2. Bring stock to a simmer in a saucepan. Add peeled garlic cloves to stock and cook about 5 min. Remove garlic, chop or mash and set aside.
3. In a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat, sauté the onions in oil and butter until softened but not browned, stirring frequently for about 5 min.
4. Increase heat to medium; add the rice and sauté until well coated. Begin to ladle hot stock into the rice a little at a time, stirring well with a wooden spoon, scraping the bottom of the pan regularly. The rice will take up liquid and begin to soften. Add reserved mushroom liquid if this applies, then keep stirring and adding stock. If you like, you can put the lid on, turn the heat down quite low, and walk away from the stove occasionally.
5. When you’ve added about half the stock, add the mushrooms, the wine, the reserved garlic and the kale. Continue stirring, adding stock until the risotto is to your liking – al dente or creamy. Add the cheese and black pepper and salt (if needed) to taste. Stir well, and serve the risotto immediately with extra cheese.
Marianne’s Note: Do not skimp out on your cheese – buy the real stuff. You only need a small piece, and it tastes so much better!
Now go get some kale and make risotto. Then head to The Wellness Show, February 15 – 17, 2013 at the Vancouver Convention Centre.
Disclaimer – I received this cookbook to review at no cost to myself as part of promotions for The Wellness Show. All opinions are my own.