Spring doesn’t last long here in Austin—whether the days are brisk or balmy, we all rush out on Saturday mornings to soak up as much as we can before things start heating up. We’re richly rewarded for getting up early too-market stalls are flush with tender, delectable spring greens, lettuces, sweet crunchy carrots, and the first strawberries of the year. Knowing that our beautiful greens don’t have too much longer before yielding to hot-weather crops, I get super excited to discover intriguing recipes that make the most of them.
In a recent issue of Bon Appetit, I discovered that you can cook risotto in the oven. No more endless stirring over the stovetop to get the creamy, perfect risotto of your dreams. I couldn’t believe it either, so I tested it out for you, and not only does it work, it might actually be better than the stovetop versions I’ve turned out over the years. And guess what? This recipe, with a Tuscan kale pesto stirred in at the end is as pretty as a spring day–bright green, hearty, and studded with toasty walnuts. You could serve it as a side dish, but I’m totally happy to make a one-dish dinner with something this easy and delicious.
*recipe adapted from bon appetit
- 1/2 c walnuts, divided
- 4 T olive oil, divided
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 c arborio rice
- salt & pepper
- 1/2 c dry white wine
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 c torn leaves of Tuscan kale, divided
- 3 oz parmesan
Preheat oven to 350.
Place walnuts on a small baking sheet and toast in the oven for 8-10 minutes until golden and fragrant. Set aside. In a braising pan or large saucepan, heat 2 T olive oil until it shimmers. Add chopped onion and turn heat down to medium low, and cook until onions are translucent. Be careful not to let inions brown. Add rice to pan, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir rice grains until some of them turn translucent. Add wine to the pan and continue stirring and cooking until wine is almost evaporated. Add 2 cups of water and bring to a simmer. Cover and place in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes. Meanwhile, place 1 c kale leaves in a small food processor with 2 cloves of garlic and 1/4 c walnuts. Pulse until finely chopped. Add 2 T olive oil and 1/4 c cold water and puree to a smooth paste (a little texture is ok). When risotto is tender, remove from the oven and stir in the pesto and parmesan. In a separate small skillet, saute remaining kale briefly and season with a pinch of salt. Serve risotto garnished with sauteed kale and remaining toasted walnuts.