Simple doesn’t mean quick

I am not trying to turn this into a food blog—there are actual food bloggers who do that work far better than I ever could—but food happens to be the aspect of simplifying that I’m working on most intently right now.

Risotto with Tuscan kale--recipe from

And I’d like to tell you that making risotto with Tuscan kale and roasted pumpkin seeds may be simple, but it is not quick. I didn’t really read the recipe before buying the ingredients, and I had forgotten from my single previous experience with risotto that there is a lot of standing over the stove stirring (like, continuous stirring). And kale? Once I started working on this recipe I remembered a friend saying that the trick to kale was massaging it for several minutes (if you are not yet familiar with kale, when you see it you will wonder how anyone ever had the idea to try eating a vegetal scrub brush).

That said, I don’t regret making this recipe. It was exactly the kind of carb- and fat-rich comfort food I crave on ever-shorter autumn days. Plus it’s always good to learn something new, for example, that there are different kinds of kale. So if you have an evening to dedicate to cooking, which I did, and are looking for an excuse to open a bottle of white wine in order to get the 1/3 cup required by the recipe, knock yourself out. The end result is tasty—especially with the kale.

Risotto with Tuscan kale and toasted pumpkin seeds from

Serves 4

  • 3 1/2 cups low-sodium fat-free chicken broth I USED ONE 4 c. CARTON OF LOW-SODIUM VEGETABLE STOCK
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3/4 pound Tuscan kale (also called lacinato kale), rinsed
  • 1 1/4 cups finely chopped onion (two medium onions)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (divided)
  • 3 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice (10 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine I USED AN Albariño
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (3/4 ounce)
  • toasted pumpkin seeds — OPTIONAL; I HAD RAW PUMPKIN SEEDS LEFTOVER FROM TRYING A HOMEMADE GRANOLA RECIPE, which was healthy and good tasting but didn’t hold together as bars, so ultimately kind of disappointing

Bring broth and water to a boil in a 3- to 4-quart saucepan. Meanwhile, cut stems and center ribs from kale and discard. Stir kale into broth in batches and simmer (all of kale), stirring occasionally, until tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer kale to a large sieve set over a bowl and gently press on massage greens to extract more liquid. Add liquid in bowl to simmering broth and keep at a bare simmer. Chop kale.

Cook onion in oil and 1 tablespoon butter with 1/4 teaspoon sea salt in a wide 4-quart heavy pot, covered, over low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to moderate, then add garlic and cook, uncovered, stirring, 1 minute. Add rice and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

Add wine and simmer briskly, stirring constantly, until absorbed. Stir in 1/2 cup simmering broth and simmer briskly, stirring constantly, until broth is absorbed. Continue simmering and adding broth, about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and letting each addition be absorbed before adding next, until rice is creamy-looking but still al dente (it should be the consistency of thick soup), 17 to 18 minutes. (There will be leftover broth.)

Stir in kale, cheese, and remaining tablespoon butter and cook, stirring, until heated through and butter is incorporated, about 1 minute. If desired, thin risotto with some of remaining broth. Serve sprinkled with toasted pumpkin seeds.

One thought on “Simple doesn’t mean quick

  1. A good night’s sleep helped me see that the title I originally gave this post — Looking for complexity? — was inaccurate. Risotto is peasant food: it requires few ingredients and only basic cooking techniques (boil, chop, stir). It is NOT complex.

    The new title — Simple doesn’t mean quick — better reflects the lesson I learned making that risotto. If quick is what I want, then I should stick to microwave meals. What I have *said* I want is to eat more healthily, reduce food waste, and reduce my environmental footprint, and measured against those goals the risotto performs well.

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