Thursday, February 3, 2011

Balsamic Risotto

I love my whole grain rice, but sometimes I get cravings for white rice - sometimes plain as a side to a saucy Asian-style dish, usually in the form of risotto. Arborio rice is a little bit more expensive, but it is the only kind you can use to get the creamy texture of risotto.

This dish requires some time and effort, standing at the stove and stirring. I enjoy making these sorts of dishes because I enjoy standing in the kitchen and stirring a pot on the stove :)

For the broth here, I cheated a little bit. I used this:  Better than Bouillon Organic Mushroom Base. Instant bouillon is my one processed food kitchen weakness that I just can't seem to get over! It doesn't taste as good as homemade, but then again, I don't like the idea of buying a bunch of vegetables simply to boil them away, and while I do save the ends of my carrots and celery and onions and such they don't gather up enough to make a stock as often as I need one. So, whenever this is on sale at Whole Food Market, I pick a couple up. I used mushroom in this dish because mushrooms are a common companion to risotto.

I used chicken in here, but it is completely optional. Neither my husband and I are vegetarians, but him and I both did separate seven year stints as vegetarians before we knew each other. I have been eating meat sparingly, mostly seafood, for about two years now and him for about six. If you haven't been able to tell by reading my blog, most of the meals I cook are vegan. Part of the reason is because it is healthier, part of the reason is because I simply don't have a taste for meat more often than every once in a while, and part of the reason is because less-cruel organic meat is very expensive and we both don't like the idea of eating factory farmed meat that was fed genetically modified food and/or whatever else (so we only buy the $7.99/pound organic chicken, etc). Nonetheless, he misses meat more than I do, so every few weeks he will say "....can we have meat for dinner this week?" So I'll thaw some out and cook it. It is completely optional and you may leave it out if you wish. Make this vegan by using a vegan butter, or by simply leaving it out.

Balsamic Risotto
  • one 4-6 ounce chicken breast (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 4-5 cups stock
  • 3-4 stalks of kale
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons butter (vegan or dairy)
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (separated)
  • olive oil
  • sea salt and ground black pepper
Rinse the kale and remove the thick stalks. Chop the leaves into small pieces and set aside.
    Heat the stock in a medium sized pan but do not allow to boil. In a separate, large pot, heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat.

    If using chicken: season each side of the chicken breast with sea salt and pepper. Place in the plan and cook for about two minutes on one side, to make a nice brown crust, and then flip over and cook for two minutes on the next side. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cut the lemon in half and squeeze one half of the juice into the pan and add in two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Cover and cook until the chicken is done, flipping over once, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.

    Heat some more oil in the pan (if necessary), chop the onion and add to the pan along with the rosemary and thyme and saute until soft and translucent and the spices are fragrant, about five minutes. Add in the rice and saute, stirring occasionally, for another five minutes. Mince the garlic cloves and stir those in. Ladle in one ladle full of the warm broth and stir until the liquid has absorbed. Add in another ladle full and stir until the liquid is absorbed - repeat this process. When you've used about half the stock, add in the kale and carrots and continue the process until the rice is soft and the texture is creamy.

    Meanwhile, butterfly the chicken and chop into small pieces. Add to the finished risotto, along with the butter, the remaining two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, and the last half of the lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and black pepper and serve immediately.


    1. Hi Cassie -- this balsamic risotto looks fantastic! I make risotto a lot, and making it w/ balsamic like this would be a wonderful way to switch it up a bit. Last night I made it with milk instead of wine -- it was extra creamy!

      In regards to roots, yes, turmeric root can be used just like ginger root -- it has an awesome orange color. I just grated it, and it added a spicy amazingness to the dish! Thanks for stopping by my blog!

    2. Such a inviting and tempting risotto..

    3. first time here this risotto looks delicious

    4. I never made risotto with balsamic vinegar before, but this looks and sounds delicious. Great idea, might have to try this out someday. I think I'd have to eat five times a day to be able to cook all the recipes I save in my folders at least once in my life.