Cavolo Nero and Mushroom Risotto


Cavolo Nero Risotto

For a while, I ordered vegetable delivery crates filled with seasonal veggies. By way of the crate I discovered cavolo nero... if it hadn't been chosen for me, I might never have given it a second look. And that would have been too bad, because then I would never have learned about all the wonderful things you can do with it.

Cavolo nero (black kale, Tuscan cabbage, or palmkool in Dutch) is an Italian cabbage with dark soft leaves. Instead of growing in heads like some other cabbage types, its leaves grow straight up like fronds... and it is, it turns out, a beloved ingredient in minestrone soups, Tuscan risotto, pasta, and even lentil dishes. I put it to the test with the first best thing I had in the pantry: some carnaroli rice. The cavolo nero passed the test with flying colours.

Ingredients (serves 2:)
150g cavolo nero
150g fresh mushrooms
150g carnaroli risotto rice
100ml dry white wine
1 large onion
100g parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic
1 litre vegetable or beef stock
butter
olive oil

Instructions:
1. Chop the onion and garlic. Take the cavolo nero and remove the leaves from the stems. Lengthwise, cut the leaves into strips.

2. In a pan, melt a dollop of butter with a little olive oil and add the onion. After a few minutes, when the onion is soft, add the garlic. Leave another minute, then add the mushrooms and cavolo nero until soft, about 5-6 minutes.
Cavolo Nero Risotto

3. Now add the rice. Leave it for a minute or two, stirring frequently, until it is heated and coated all over. Add the wine and turn the heat up to high until it is evaporated.

4. Turn the heat back down to medium. Add one soup ladle of stock to the rice, stirring regularly. When the liquid is nearly evaporated - you want it getting bubbly and gooey - add another ladle.

5. After that, it's just a whole lot of waiting and stirring - about 20 minutes' worth, although it can take a little longer or shorter depending on the strength of your flame. When the rice has softened (I like it just a bit softer than the 'al dente', and still to have a little of the stock, gone gooey from cooking), add a last chunk of butter and 80g grated parmesan and stir.

Serve immediately, garnished with freshly ground black pepper and the remaining parmesan. Yum. :)

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