Oven Risotto with Kale Pesto

This rice is so self-sufficient it doesn't need your constant attention, and it's happy to share the spotlight with a nutty green sauce.


  • ½ cup walnuts, coarsely chopped, divided
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup (packed) fresh parsley leaves
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 2 cups torn Tuscan kale leaves, divided
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 ounces Parmesan, finely grated (about 2 cups)

Recipe Preparation

  • Preheat oven to 350°. Toast walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, 8–10 minutes. Let cool.

  • Meanwhile, heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large ovenproof saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until softened and translucent, 5–8 minutes. Stir in rice; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until some grains are translucent, about 5 minutes.

  • Add wine, bring to a simmer, and cook until pan is almost dry, about 3 minutes. Add 2 cups very hot water; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, cover, and bake in oven until liquid is mostly absorbed but rice is still starchy in the center, 15–18 minutes (it should be undercooked).

  • Meanwhile, pulse garlic and half of toasted walnuts in a food processor until very finely ground. Add parsley, chives, half of kale, remaining 2 Tbsp. oil, and ¼ cup cold water; process until smooth; season pesto with salt and pepper.

  • Set saucepan over medium heat. Add ¾ cup very hot water and cook rice, stirring constantly, until it is tender but still has some bite and sauce is creamy, about 3 minutes. Stir in pesto, butter, three-quarters of Parmesan, and remaining kale. Adjust consistency with water, if needed; season with salt and pepper. Serve topped with remaining walnuts and cheese.

Nutritional Content

Calories (kcal) 590 Fat (g) 36 Saturated Fat (g) 10 Cholesterol (mg) 40 Carbohydrates (g) 47 Dietary Fiber (g) 5 Total Sugars (g) 3 Protein (g) 14 Sodium (mg) 300Reviews SectionLove this recipe! We made it our own by adding some sausage! (Which might take away from the healthy part but it’s divine!)This recipe was just a little too strong in the raw garlic/onion/parsley flavors for me. Tastes very green.This has been a staple recipe of mine for years! Not sure why folks didn't like it.AnonymousCambridge, mA03/08/19

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 15 g/½ oz unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 85 g/3 oz white cabbage, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 280 g/10 oz risotto rice
  • 400 g/14 oz can chopped tomatoes
  • 700 ml/1¼ pints reduced-salt vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon tomato purée
  • For the broccoli pesto:
  • 40 g/1½ oz cashew nuts
  • 4 broccoli florets (about 70 g/2½ oz)
  • 15 g/½ oz kale, tough stalks removed
  • 125 ml/4 fl oz olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 40 g/1½ oz Pecorino or Parmesan cheese, finely grated, plus extra to serve (optional)

Risotto with Kale Pesto and Bacon

This risotto with kale pesto and bacon is an example of a much simpler way to make risotto that doesn’t lack in flavor! A simple risotto is made, but there is no standing around the range tending to it. This risotto goes straight into the oven, giving you the same result as if you have been making it traditionally. A simple kale and herb pesto and bacon is stirred in to impart dramatic flavors. Don’t let risotto scare you! This risotto with kale pesto can easily be your next weeknight dinner recipe!

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! If I were thinking ahead of time (which I obviously wasn’t), I think posting this recipe for risotto with kale pesto about a week ago would have been an even better idea. I mean, isn’t this the perfect Valentine’s Day dinner recipe?? I think so! What’s even better, is that it is super simple to make. Oh well, I’m sharing it with you guys now, and I hope you love it as much as we do!

Zach and I love risotto. We make it often, but it took us a long time to perfect it. It’s not that it’s difficult to make. I think it’s a common misconception that it is difficult to make. It just takes time and attention, and it’s very easy to go from underdone to overdone. I think it’s very much a trial and error type of recipe. Once you get it right, it’s like riding a bike, you never forget it.

There are ways around making risotto the traditional way, however. I’ve made baked risotto quite a few times, and this risotto with kale pesto is just one example of a simpler way to make risotto. I’ve made this recipe a million times in the past couple of years, but I have always just made it the traditional way. This time, it’s all about keeping it super simple and having dinner on the table in under an hour.

This risotto with kale pesto and bacon is one delicious dish. Pair it with a brown ale. A brown ale will really compliment the walnuts and bacon. I hope you enjoy and have a wonderful rest of your weekend! xo

Forbidden Rice Risotto with Kale Pesto

Ok, I have two things that I have to share with you immediately. The first thing has to do with this forbidden rice risotto recipe. I know that it looks a little…intense. I swear that it is relatively normal and will not stain your teeth purple. Trust me. I ate a lot of it (you know, for testing purposes).

Also, I ended up taking it to work for lunch. And yeah, the last thing I wanted to do was walk around like a dope with purple teeth. Not a great look. But let’s be honest here. It sounds like something that would happen to me.

Second piece of news that you might or might not care about at all. We picked a wedding venue spot yesterday! And a wedding date (4/11/2015). Maybe sharing my ineptitude at wedding planning (or pure laziness) somehow helped make this happen. Thanks internet. You come in handy sometimes.

And somehow, despite being an incredibly picky control-freak, I was not involved in the process at ALL. I literally haven’t even seen the place in person. With my own two eyes. Connor visited it in person, took some pictures, and it took all of 15 minutes and 20 follow-up questions for me to come to a positive conclusion.

After having visited a bunch of venues this past weekend and nixing our top contender going into the process, I was starting to give up a little. We decided a long time ago that we wanted the reception and ceremony to be at the same venue–and well, this definitely complicates things.

I also wanted the possibility of having both the ceremony and reception outside–or have an equally nice space to have both of them inside, depending on whatever weather mother nature decides to throw our way. Basically, I wanted the best of both worlds, which is so very typical of me.

And somehow, we actually found a spot that is both pretty and meets basically every requirement. And it wasn’t booked yet. So I’m thanking my lucky stars right now.

Whoever said that picking the venue was the most stressful part of wedding planning was absolutely spot on. Obviously the pressure has exponentially increased now that we actually have a date–um, this is officially happening–but oh my gosh, I feel so relieved! Maybe I’ll actually get into this now? We’ll see.

I’m the type of person that needs to see the end goal and/or deadline to come up with a plan of action. I have 407 days to do the rest.

Anyway, I’m all about deadlines. Except when it comes to food. I’m fairly spontaneous when it comes to what recipes I end up cooking or sharing with you guys. I try to avoid over thinking it as much as possible.

This is actually the first “risotto” dish that I’ve made all season. I’ve had a huge bag of black Forbidden rice sitting in my pantry for an embarrassingly long period of time. It was a spontaneous Costco purchase that I’ve completely forgotten about. Risotto was the first idea that popped into my head.

Somewhere along the brainstorming process, my mind got stuck on the idea of topping it with pesto. I’m incredibly biased towards basil pesto. I enjoy an arugula pesto every now and then–and have tried all sorts of other variations–but I can never seem to get past the fact the–how shall I say it?–lack of basil.

I’m sort of ashamed to admit this (since I try and do believe in eating seasonably as much as possible), but I’ve definitely bought basil in winter before. I know! Cue immense guilt. I blame Trader Joe’s.

But this time, I opted to be good and make a different (and new to me) pesto with kale instead. Basil still wins–but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I actually liked it? To improve the texture and flavor, I decided to blanch the kale leaves lightly by pouring boiling water over them in a colander, squeezing the excess water out, and then processing them with garlic, olive oil, walnuts, and parmesan cheese.

Hoppin' John Risotto with Collard Pesto

  • balanced
  • gluten-free
  • egg-free
  • fish-free
  • peanut-free
  • soy-free
  • wheat-free
  • shellfish-free
  • Calories 410
  • Fat 19.2 g (29.5%)
  • Saturated 7.0 g (35.0%)
  • Carbs 41.4 g (13.8%)
  • Fiber 2.2 g (9.0%)
  • Sugars 4.2 g
  • Protein 14.0 g (28.0%)
  • Sodium 540.3 mg (22.5%)


chicken stock, preferably homemade

uncooked sweet or hot Italian sausage

olive oil, plus more as needed

chopped onion, from about 1/2 large onion

chopped red bell pepper, from about 1/2 large pepper

chopped celery, from about 2 large stalks

Arborio, Carnaroli, or Carolina Gold rice (10 ounces)

cooked field peas, such as black-eyed peas

finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Collard Pesto, for serving (recipe follows)


Bring the stock just to a simmer in a medium saucepan and keep warm over low heat.

Remove the casings from the sausage links. Break the meat into marble-sized pieces, like little meatballs. Heat the oil in a large skillet or wide saucepan over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook until the meat is no longer pink, about 10 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat. (If you happen to have particularly lean sausage, add more olive oil to make up the difference.)

Heat the fat over medium-high heat. Stir in the onion, bell pepper, and celery and a pinch of salt. Cook until softened, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat each grain in the fat. Cook, stirring slowly and continuously, until the outside of each grain is shiny and translucent with a tiny white dot in the center, about 2 minutes. Stir in the wine and cook until it evaporates.

Reduce the heat to medium, Add 1 cup of the warm stock and cook, stirring slowly and steadily, until the rice absorbs the liquid. Continue adding stock 1/2 cup at a time, stirring all the while and letting the rice nearly absorb the stock before adding more. When done, the rice should be tender, yet a little firm in the center of each grain (like pasta al dente). The rice should be suspended in thick, creamy sauce. You might not need all of the stock. The entire process should take about 25 minutes.

Remove the risotto from the heat and stir in the peas, sausage, butter, parsley, and cheese. Check the seasoning, but the sausage probably contains all the salt and pepper the risotto needs. Serve at once, topped with a sprinkling of cheese and a generous spoonful of collard pesto.

Tips for making perfect risotto

  • Choose the proper rice: Medium or short grain rice is typically used for risotto. Arborio rice is a medium grain rice with a starchy coating. The extra starch helps make the risotto extra creamy.
  • Toast the rice: An important step in risotto is toasting the rice. This allows the rice to absorb more liquid and not become soggy.
  • Use warm stock: It is important to add warm stock to the rice. I usually just keep it in a small saucepan on the burner behind the risotto. Adding cool stock to the risotto will bring down the temperature of the pan.

Wait until this dish it tossed together to season with salt and pepper. The chicken stock adds salt to the dish. Adding more salt could push it over the edge. Always taste before seasoning.

Add shrimp, scallops or shredded chicken to make this a full meal. You can substitute vegetable stock if you are a vegetarian and add in some veggies.

The pesto is equally delicious on pasta or brushed on grilled chicken.

This vibrant sauce makes good use of an over abundance of chives. It's an ideal accompaniment to classic roasted potatoes.

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Blue Cheese Risotto with Kale Recipe

This blue cheese risotto recipe is truly for blue cheese lovers only. If you're not a fan of blue cheese, you should probably stay far away. Or maybe just give this blue cheese risotto a try because it might actually make you fall in love!

And now I will commence typing this recipe with my eyes closed. I'm kidding, but I actually probably could. I know the risotto making technique so well by now. And I did take PAWS for Typing in second grade (please tell me you know what this is!).

You'll start by bringing the chicken broth to a boil in a medium saucepan and then lowering the temperature to a simmer.

Add olive oil to a different medium sized saucepan and stir in shallots and onion over medium heat. Cook for about 3 minutes, until onion is translucent. Add arborio rice to the pot and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring gently.

Pour in your lovely white wine and stir. Let rice absorb all of the liquid.

Then begin adding chicken broth to the mixture one cup at a time, stirring in between each addition and waiting for liquid to absorb.

Remember, you don't have to stir risotto non-stop, but make sure you keep an eye on it and stir occasionally or all the liquid could absorb and rice will stick to the pot.

While you're waiting for the chicken broth to be absorbed by the rice, crumble up some blue cheese. Blue cheese has ALWAYS been a favorite of mine for as long as I can remember.

I am a huge fan of stinky cheese and the more flavorful the better.

Toast up your pine nuts, too. But you may have to open up your eyes for this one. It's pretty much the law of the world that I will burn one batch of pine nuts every time I toast them. Which is a dang shame since the cost of pine nuts is exorbitant. Anyway.

Stir in your cheese and your kale leaves, letting the cheese melt a bit and the kale wilt a little bit. I still wanted my kale to have a little bit of crunch, so I took the pot off the heat pretty quickly.

Mix in the pine nuts and serve! With a few more pine nuts sprinkled on top. Because there's no such thing as too many pine nuts.

Until you go broke eating them. And burning the others.

This blue cheese risotto was everything I wanted it to be. Simple to make, packed with blue cheese flavor with a nutty touch, and filled with a bit of green goodness, too.

It's also, pure, pure comfort. Which is another thing I really truly need this week.

I hope I've done my job of convincing you that risotto is ridiculously easy to make. And that this blue cheese risotto is totally appropriate for a weeknight dinner after a busy day of work where all you want to do is lounge on the couch.

And I promise I'll stop writing about risotto now and start trying to get more creative with other entrees again.

You know, right after I write an entire cookbook on risotto. There are simply too many fantastic risotto recipes swimming around in my head.

Risotto, I just can't quit you. I hope that's OK with y'all.

Do you have a recipe you'd be perfectly happy making over and over again with different variations?

Two grains risotto with hazelnut and kale pesto

With the temperature seriously dropping all my body craves is comforting, soul warming food. In all honestly the idea of a salad for dinner really doesn’t appeal me anymore! I am sure when eventually the temperatures will raise again I will start to fancy more raw food but for the moment I have got to be clever and trying to still get lots of green goodness into my daily routine. This recipe is actually a very good example, even if you don’t like kale I promise you, you will love this dish! The kale is kind of in disguise with the fragrant basil, crunchy hazelnut and sweet pumpkin, it’s still there giving you all his green super power but the flavour is subtle, perfect for kale first timer!)

1 small pumpkin of your choice

2 cups of vegetable stock

1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil

1 flat tablespoon of nutritional yeast

mixed seeds ( pumpkin seeds,sesame seeds etc…)

Start by roasting the pumpkin. Heat the oven at 180.

Wash the pumpkin, cut it in half, with a spoon remove all the seeds and slice it length way. Put the slices onto a try with a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper. With your hands rub the seasoning into the pumpkin slices. Roast for at least 20 minutes until soft.

To make the risotto: chop as finely as possible the onion and the garlic. In a saucepan heat a tablespoon of olive oil and start gently frying the onion and the garlic. In a colander rinse the millet and quinoa. Once the onion is translucent add the grains into the pan together with the vegetable stock. Cook the risotto on a low heat stirring from time to time until all the liquid has been absorbed and the quinoa and millet are tender.

While the risotto is cooking make the pesto: in a food processor put the kale, hazelnuts, basil, nutritional yeast, lemon juice olive oil, salt and pepper and the garlic. Pulse for a couple of minutes until the pesto has a creamy consistency, if you feel is still too thick you can add gradually a bit of water.

Once the risotto is cooked fold in the pesto and add some pumpkin seeds if you want an extra crunch. Serve the kale pesto risotto with the slices of pumpkin on top, a drizzle of olive oil and mixed seeds to decorate.