A handful of kale is harvested in Nikiski, Alaska, on July 10, 2021. (Photograph by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)

A handful of kale is harvested in Nikiski, Alaska, on July 10, 2021. (Photograph by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)

Kale salad? Not so much

A cream risotto makes an indulgent base for the nutritional green

A few weeks ago, my mother-in-law and I spent a wet and dreary afternoon planting starters in my very first vegetable garden. It was cold and laborious work, but we spent the time laughing, imagining we were medieval peasants slogging through the mud on our knees to plant our radishes, potatoes and greens. It was wholesome fun, and although I was soaked and chilled to the core by the end, my heart was warm and happy.

We planted two varieties of kale, which, while well-known for its high nutritional density, is not so popular for its taste. I am only slightly ashamed to admit I’m generally not a fan of the oh-so-ubiquitous kale salad with nuts and dried fruit and a zesty lemon vinaigrette. I am much more likely to enjoy eating my greens if they are in a savory soup, or if they are part of a more indulgent dish, like pizza, pasta or this creamy Parmesan risotto topped with sauteed mushrooms and crispy baked kale.

Parmesan risotto with mushrooms and kale


1 ½ cups arborio rice

4 cups chicken or vegetable broth

½ white onion finely chopped

2 tablespoons fresh minced garlic

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

½ cup heavy cream

½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese

2 cups trimmed kale

1 pound sliced cremini mushrooms

3 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and pepper


Wash and trim your kale, toss in olive oil and salt generously. Spread out in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake in a 300-degree oven for 15 minutes or until the kale is dry and crispy.

Heat your broth on the stove until steaming and keep it hot.

Saute the onion and garlic in 1 tablespoon olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter for 5 minutes, then add the dry rice and cook until the rice smells nutty and begins to look translucent.

At the same time, in a separate pan, saute the mushrooms in 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Do not salt the mushrooms until the very end because salting too early will result in soggy mushrooms. Cook until the pan is dry, and the mushrooms have a golden-brown crust, tossing often to prevent burning.

When the rice begins to brown, it is time to start adding the hot broth, one ladle at a time, stirring constantly until the pan is dry again, and then add more hot broth.

Continue adding broth and stirring until the liquid is gone until the rice is fully cooked. This could take some time (it took me about 45 minutes) and requires near constant attention, so be sure you’re ready to commit before you start.

When the rice is fully cooked, add the heavy cream and cheese.

Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Create a sauce with the mushrooms if you like by adding 3-4 tablespoons broth mixed with one teaspoon beef base and ½ tablespoon cornstarch and cook until thickened. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Immediately before serving, add the last tablespoon of butter to the rice to finish.

Plate your rice and top with the mushrooms and kale, then drizzle a little olive oil on top and serve.

This dish isn’t as healthy or nutritious as that kale salad, but sometimes a meal is much more than just vitamins, minerals and macros. As I picked the first of the fruits of our labor, I reflected on the bouquet of kale in my little hand. Of course, the kale is packed with nutritional goodness, but the pride inherent in producing food from the earth, and the knowledge I receive from family and earn through action and error, is superfood for my soul.

This rich Parmesan risotto makes a creamy base for mushrooms and kale. Photographed July 10, 2021, in Nikiski, Alaska. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)

This rich Parmesan risotto makes a creamy base for mushrooms and kale. Photographed July 10, 2021, in Nikiski, Alaska. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)

More in Community

Town Crier

The Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center has temporarily closed indoor services… Continue reading

The Homer Police Station as seen Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020 in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
Cops and Courts

Information about fire, police and troopers is taken from public records consisting… Continue reading

Photos courtesy of Alaska Mindful Paws
Abigail and Natalie
Pets of the week: Abigail and Natalie

Are you ready for the sweetest cats around? Well Abigail, 1.5 year-old-female,… Continue reading

Homer Foundation 30 years logo.
Homer Foundation at 30: Foundation anticipated Exxon Valdez ‘spillionaires’

If upheld, $5 billion in civil suit damages from Exxon Valdez would have made many locals wealthy and able to invest in Homer Foundation — but that didn’t happen.

Tressa Dale / For the Clarion 
Mindful ramen
Take guilt off menu with mindful ramen

I do a lot of preaching about healthy eating, but I have… Continue reading

Mavis Muller, center, with bull horn, arranged Salmonfest attendees for an aerial art event in the rodeo arena at Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds near Ninilchik, Alaska. (Photo courtesy of Mavis Muller)
Aerial art circles back to its origins

Human mosiac art project happens Sunday at Bishop’s Beach.

Tressa Dale
Scrambled Eggs A La Escoffier
Scrambled eggs the Escoffier way

For the last few months of culinary school, my class was given… Continue reading

A cow moose and her two calves feed on alder bushes on Thursday, July 21, 2021, in the Homer News parking lot in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Homer’s Best Bets

Just because August starts Sunday doesn’t mean summer has ended yet. There’s… Continue reading

Gordon Elgin Giles
Gordon Elgin Giles

Seldovia resident Gordon Elgin Giles, 81, went to be with the Lord… Continue reading

Most Read