Risotto was one of the first "fancy" things I learned how to make. When I was in high school, pretty much all I watched was The Food Network. I watched so many episodes about risotto. Something about it seemed so fancy to me. The first risotto I made was a Food Network Recipe that had shrimp and peas in it and I just remember thinking "Yes, I am officially a chef now". And while my food philosophy and taste have changed, my love for risotto endures. So, if you want to feel like a fancy chef, or to make a special Valentines Day or date night dinner, make this Vegan Leek and Kale Risotto for dinner.
Vegan Leek and Kale Risotto Ingredient Breakdown
Arborio Rice is the ONLY Risotto Rice
Risotto seems fancy, but is very simple. The ingredients are minimal, but important. The most important of all is arborio rice. Arborio rice is an Italian short grain rice that has a high starch content. What makes this Vegan Leek and Kale Risotto creamy isn't cream- its the starch from the rice! The constant stirring releases starch from the rice to create that creamy and velvety texture we all know and love. So, if you don't have arborio rice, your risotto will not be risotto! I typically get my arborio rice from the bulk bin section, but have also used this Rice Select arborio rice. But, really any brand will do.
How to Trim Leeks
Leeks look like a giant spring onion. And thats because they are in the same family. Leeks are more mild than a regular old onion so when you see the amount we are using in this Vegan Leek and Kale Risotto, don't panic.
To properly cut a leek, first hold the white part with the green top facing away from you. Then hold a chefs knife at about a 45* angle with the blade facing away from you. Now, remove the green part by slicing the knife away from you, while turning the leek in your hand. This will expose more usable light green leek under the dark green tops. So, you get the most from the leek.
Next, cut the leek in half long ways and them slice ¼ slices cross wise. Now, place the sliced leek into a large bowl or a salad spinner to wash with cold water. Sandy dirt often gets stuck between the layers. So, leeks are one vegetable that is best to wash after its cut. After the leeks have been washed, they are ready to sauté and make this Vegan Leek and Kale Risotto.
Dry White Wine
Dry white wine is a crucial part of risotto making. I prefer to use Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio, but use what you have! The wine gives this Vegan Leek Risotto a hit of acid and depth of flavor. If you don't drink or purchase alcohol, substitute the wine for more stock and add a squeeze of lemon juice at the end.
If you have been here a while, you know that my all time favorite vegetable stock is Better Than Bullion. Its flavorful, compact and stays fresh FORVER. I love that I can make just ½ cup of vegetable stock without opening a big box of stock. I always get the Lower Sodium Vegetable Base so I can control how much salt is in my dish. If you haven't tried Better Than Bullion yet, trust me and pick a jar up! It gives this Vegan Leek and Kale Risotto a very flavorful backbone.
This Vegan Leek and Kale Risotto is great for a date night or for one of those days when you want to make something a little more special, yet simple.
Vegan Leek and Kale Risotto
- 2 tablespoon Vegan Butter I used Earth Balance
- 4 Medium Leeks, trimmed, halved and cut into ¼ inch slices This is about 5 cups of sliced leeks
- 3 Medium Cloves Garlic, minced
- 1 ½ Cups Arborio Rice don't rinse!
- ½ Cup Dry White Wine
- ½ teaspoon Dried Thyme Leaves
- 5 Cups Vegetable Stock, warmed
- 2 tablespoon Nutritional Yeast
- 3 Cups Roughly chopped and Lightly Packed Kale
- Salt and Pepper to Taste
- In a large dutch oven over medium heat, melt butter and add leeks. Sauté until the leeks are translucent at soft. 7-9 minutes.
- Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute.
- Add arborio rice and toast the rice for 1 minute.
- Add wine and thyme. Stir well allowing the alcohol to evaporate. Reduce heat to low.
- Add vegetable stock in ¾ cup increments, stirring constantly between each addition and allowing most of the liquid to absorb before adding the next addition of liquid.
- Repeat stirring and adding liquid until the rice is tender. This will take 24-26 minutes. You may not use all of the liquid and thats okay!
- Remove from heat and stir in nutritional yeast, then add kale leaves allowing risidual heat from the pot to wilt the kale.
- Serve immediately.
Let me know how you like this recipe and if there is anything you'd like to see me make next!