This Risotto with Winter Greens and Citrus balances the carby creamy rice goodness with mildly bitter kale and a touch of bright orange and lemon for the perfect comfort food on a cool day.
For more risotto inspiration, check out our Risotto with Sun-dried Tomatoes, Artichokes, Spinach and Olives.
What is risotto?
Risotto is a scrumptious, Italian comfort food dish. While it has a reputation for being fussy and complicated, in fact, risotto is simply rice, liquid, and a bit of fat, stirred continuously until creamy and tender.
The fun thing about risotto is that you can get as creative as you can imagine with its flavors and contents – sweet or savory. Spicy or subtle. You can add meat or seafood or keep it vegetarian. Really the limit is only your imagination.
Is white rice bad for you?
Not too long ago the health food craze was all about whole grains, including brown rice. Like many well-intending health food fanatics, I spent years convinced that not only were brown rice and other whole grains better for me but that I actually preferred brown rice to white.
Truth? Even when I soak or sprout it, I feel bloated and sluggish after eating brown rice. When I eat white rice, I have no problems at all. And while I can appreciate the nutty flavor of brown rice, it doesn’t beat the simple comfort of a bowl of steaming white rice.
If you’ve bought into the health benefits of brown rice, this may seem absurd. Brown rice is healthy food, right?
Brown rice lovers tout the health benefits of eating the ‘whole grain’, pointing out that the valuable nutrition of rice and other grains is located in the outer layers, called the germ and bran.
Unfortunately, these treasures are also locked up in there with phytic acid which binds to otherwise useful minerals rendering them useless to the human body.
Cooked white rice has lower amounts of phytic acid than almost all other seeds, nuts, grains, and legumes.
So in short, no need to hate on white rice. Just eat it as part of a balanced nutrient-dense diet.
White kind of rice is in risotto?
There are many different types of rice that can be used in a risotto, but here are three of the most common risotto rice types:
Arborio is the most widely available risotto rice. Its medium grain can be easily overcooked, but as long as you tend it carefully it will still make a great risotto.
Carnaroli is the king of risotto rice because of its great flavor, texture, and ease of use. This risotto is known for being easy to use. It yields a wonderfully creamy risotto.
Vialone Nano has a high starch content, cooks up relatively quickly, and results in a very creamy risotto.
How to make the best risotto
TOP TIP: do not rinse your risotto rice first because you don’t want to lose the starches!
The name of the game with risotto is slow and low. To start, you will cook your chopped onions, leeks, garlic, etc with salt over low heat until translucent. Then you add your rice to the veggies and fat and slowly cook with the liquid – wine, broth – one cup at a time, waiting until the liquid is absorbed by the rice before adding more. Do this until the rice is tender and coated with a thick, creamy sauce.
At this point, you can add your tender veggies and cooked meats. For the Risotto with Winter Greens and Citrus, add the chopped kale, tarragon, the remaining butter, lemon and orange zest, crumbled goat cheese, and some of the parmesan. Season with salt, pepper, and the remaining parmesan, and your masterpiece is ready to serve.
Meal planning with our Risotto with Winter Greens and Citrus
As an entree, this hearty dish is best served with a simply dressed salad. It would also be a perfect side dish for lightly grilled salmon or chicken.
How to reheat risotto
Whether you choose to throw it in the microwave or reheat it on the stove, the best way to reheat risotto is to stir in a bit of broth (water will do in a pinch!) to reconstitute its creamy texture. On the stovetop, heat it slowly for best results. In the microwave, stir once or twice through the warming process. Top with some fresh herbs and your beautiful risotto will be good to go.
Can you freeze risotto?
Risotto can certainly be frozen, but, when possible, we recommend freezing more simple risottos so that you can get creative with flavors and add-ins when it’s reheated. For example, a mushroom risotto can later be topped with seafood or paired with fresh wilted spinach. In the case of this Risotto with Winter Greens and Citrus, try making a double batch of rice (but only a single batch of the greens, zests, and cheeses). That way your second round of the risotto can be an entirely new creative adventure.
Risotto with Winter Greens and Citrus
- 5.0 stars
- 3h 15m
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 large leek
- 1 bunch kale
- 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 orange
- 2 sprigs fresh tarragon
- 3 tbsp. butter
- 2 tsp. coarse sea salt, plus more to taste
- 1 1/2 c risotto rice
- 3/4 c white wine
- 4 1/2 c chicken stock, or water
- 1 oz parmesan cheese
- 2 oz goat cheese
- ground black pepper, to taste
- Peel and chop the garlic. Chop the leeks. De-stem and finely chop the kale. Zest lemon and orange. Chop the tarragon.
- Heat half of the butter in a very large saucepan or wok over medium heat. Add the leeks, garlic, and salt and sauté, stirring constantly, for about 4 minutes, or until the leek begins to soften.
- Add the rice to the pot and stir until coated with a nice sheen, then add the white wine and simmer for 3 or 4 minutes, until the rice has absorbed the liquid a bit.
- Add the chicken stock 1 cup at a time to the saucepan, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until all of the liquid is used and absorbed. This will require an extra 30 minutes in the kitchen, though it will not require 100% of your attention.
- When rice is tender and no liquid remains:
- Grate parmesan. Into the remaining risotto, stir in the greens, the remaining butter, lemon and orange zest, parmesan (reserving half for garnish), and crumbled goat cheese.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Spoon the risotto into bowls, top with chopped tarragon and additional parmesan cheese.