Forbidden Rice Risotto with Kale Pesto
A twist on classic Italian risotto prepared with Forbidden rice and topped with a homemade kale pesto.
We’re doing things a bit differently today! Instead of classic arborio (or carnaroli) rice risotto or even farro risotto, we’re making Forbidden rice risotto today! It has a stunningly dark color.
Do not worry, this dish will not stain your teeth.
What is Forbidden Rice:
According to legends, Forbidden rice was eaten exclusively by emperors in ancient China. Luckily, it is now grown in areas of China’s sub-arctic Northeast provinces and has become increasingly available in most grocery stores.
It is incredibly high in antioxidants (similar to blueberries) and has a slightly nuttier flavor than other rice varieties. The deep, dark purple color is stunning and reminds me in many ways to Italian squid ink risotto.
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 homemade risotto 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.
Risotto was the first idea that popped into my head.
I’m sort of ashamed to admit this since I believe in eating seasonably as much as possible, but I definitely buy fresh basil on occasion in the winter months.
This time I opted to use kale in place of basil leaves. You could also prepare this dish with arugula pesto, which is an easier alternative. To improve the texture and flavor, the kale leaves are blanched slightly.
I loved the pop of color that the kale pesto adds to the dark Forbidden rice risotto!
Forbidden Rice Risotto with Kale Pesto
- 1 large bunch of kale stems stripped and discarded
- 1 large garlic clove
- ¼ cup chopped lightly toasted walnuts
- ¼ - ⅓ cup (60-80 mL) extra virgin olive oil
- ⅓ cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- kosher salt + freshly ground black pepper
Forbidden Rice Risotto:
- 6½-8 cups low-sodium chicken stock total amount needed can vary batch to batch
- 2½ tablespoons (35g) unsalted butter divided
- 1 medium yellow onion finely diced
- 1½ cups Black Forbidden rice
- ½ cup (120 mL) dry white wine
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ - ⅓ cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese plus more for serving
- Prepare the Pesto: Strip the leaves from the kale stems (discarding the stalks or repurpose for vegetable stock) and place the leaves in a large colander set within your kitchen sink. Boil water in an electric or stove-top kettle. Pour the boiling water over the kale leaves until they just begin to wilt. Rinse the leaves with cold water to stop the cooking. Allow the leaves to drain and once cool enough to handle (or using the back of a wooden spoon), squeeze out and discard any excess water.
- Place the garlic in the bowl of a food processor and pulse several times until fincely minced. Add the walnuts and blanched, pressed kale leaves. While pulsing, slowly add the olive oil and process until smooth. Stir in the grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Prepare Risotto: Place chicken broth in a medium saucepan. Bring to a very low simmer.
- Heat 1½ tablespoons (20g) unsalted butter into a separate large, heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the minced onions and a pinch of salt, stirring constantly, until they are very soft and translucent.
- Add the Forbidden rice and stir everything together. Toast the rice for 1 to 2 minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly. Add the white wine and cook until almost completely evaporated and rice kernels are relatively dry.
- Add a ladleful - roughly ½ (120mL) to ¾ (180 ML) cup - of the simmering stock, stirring every few minutes, until the stock has been absorbed and rice looks relatively dry. Adjust the heat as needed so that the broth is not evaporating too quickly.
- Continue to add broth (using the same method) until the rice is al dente, soft on outside with a slight chewy interior. Total cook time will vary, but be roughly 40 to 60 minutes total, depending on your stove and the heat level. The risotto should be thick, but loose enough to flow on a plate or bowl. If the risotto becomes too thick, add additional stock to loosen it. Once risotto is ready, stir in the remaining butter and grated cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Top each serving with a spoonful of kale pesto and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Serve immediately with additional grated cheese for serving.
35 Comments on “Forbidden Rice Risotto with Kale Pesto”
On the wedding items, I would suggest checking out apracticalwedding.com (linked on the website url above). It kept me sane and has a lot of advise for people who don’t love every minute of wedding planning! Good luck! It really starts to come together once the location and date are booked.
Yay for venue picking!! That is a perfect (and necessary) first step. 😛 For us it was actually pretty easy because I 100% knew where I wanted the wedding to be…and then the caterer was the hair-pulling part. Now onto the dress! (and the flowers/limos/photographer/videographer/cake/etc).
I love the forbidden rice…so dark and dreamy and mysterious!
I know!! So essential. I did actually have a forerunner but it didn’t end up being as nice as I expected it to be. Caterer/photographer is prob our next step!!
Wow, this just sounds so indulgent, you know being forbidden and all! Can’t wait to try it and anything with kale, to me, is good. So exciting planning a wedding- have fun with it! 🙂
Never seen rice like that… But good to know it doesn’t stain teeth purple… And congratulations on picking a wedding venue!!
Congrats!! So excited for you. That must feel amazing to have a date! 🙂
I adore forbidden rice. This is so my kind of meal!
I’ve had forbidden rice before and it was delicious. Great recipe!
Yes! I love it too! Thanks Cheri!
There is so much cool stuff in this recipe – love it!
Thanks so much Katrina! 🙂
Laura, you may want to consider Pippa’s “portfolio’! Glad you love the venue and interesting that you yourself haven’t seen it! But, as the most important person in the world has, it will be great! It looks lovely! Yikes, only 407 days for me to start scanning 10,000 photos and get my bum in gear!
The risotto looks gorgeous and delicious! Glad it doesn’t “emit” purple teeth! Great idea! Also, interesting that you blanched the kale first! makes a lot of sense! Will definitely try this!
Beautimous! And congrats on the wedding venue! So exciting. 🙂
Thank youuuu! xo
Wahoo!! I bet you’re ecstatic to check that off your list. Everything always falls into place as it should. 🙂 This rice is stunning, and I love that you turned it into a risotto (my fave!). Pesto is a perfect finishing touch.
Yes yes yes!! So happy that the pressure is off with picking the venue. I was worried things would start to book up super quickly. Thanks Nicole!
You sound like me–I want the best of all worlds, and I believe if I’m patient enough, it will happen. Glad you crossed that off your wedding list. We got married 1 year ago, and I can’t tell you how good it feels to be done with wedding planning. It hangs over your head like a black cloud. Some women enjoy it, though, or so I hear? xo
Haha! I agree with you! Patience is key. Oh my gosh, seriously, why don’t more people talk about how NOT fun wedding planning is?? HA!
Wow, what a fascinating-looking dish . . . I am definitely intrigued! And congrats on picking your venue and date. Those were the issues we had to settle before we could do anything else, and the rest will start falling into place! You have plenty of time, but it’ll go fast. 🙂 We were married almost exactly 11 months after we got engaged, so we had to roll!
Yea! I feel like you can’t do anything until you have the venue. I’m sure it will go by so fast!!! I need to get going 🙂
This is such a gorgeous risotto, Laura! Congratulations on picking a wedding venue and date, too – that’s so exciting!
Thank you, thank you! It is such a relief!!
Kale pesto, brilliant! I am not much of a kale fan and feel guilty about not eating it too often, as it is a “super food.” This might just be the thing for me, thanks.
Also, great hearing about the wedding plans. Glad to hear Conner is an active participant, have fun with it!
I like cooking it with garlic and chicken broth–but actually really liked this pesto!! Let me know if you try it! Thanks for the well wishes Genny!
Beeeautiful! Oh my goodness Laura… I love pesto and risotto so it sounds like the perfect marriage of deliciousness to me!
Thanks so much Laurie!
I love kale pesto and that rice is so cool! Pinned.
Thanks Liz! I was really surprised by how much I liked the kale pesto!
I love this rice too and now I have a new recipe for it. Thank you and have fun planning your wedding, we all love hearing the details.
I’m so glad you don’t mind hearing some wedding details every now and then! 🙂 I’m always worried it will be bore people!
I have decided that I will offer up my expertise and wedding planning services to you at a minimal cost (family discount just this once). If you would like to see my ‘portfolio’, let me know.
Hmmm…I wanna see this portfolio.
These photos are gorgeous! Love that rice photo. And glad this won’t stain my teeth if I try it 🙂 This dish sounds great!
Yes! No teeth worries, haha! I was legitimately concerned for a while. Thanks Chelsea!
That is the coolest color rice EVER! Never have seen anything like it! And that Anthro plate is perfect with it 🙂 pinned
They sell it at Costco, Whole Foods and in the bulk bins sometimes. Thanks Averie! I love that plate–I need to go back to Anthro and get more props 😉