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  • Writer's pictureEmily Yeo

Shroom & Kale Pesto Risotto

So let’s talk about this risotto. I think it’s my favourite risotto ever, and I really love risotto. I always know I’m in big trouble when I start playing around with my food during the photographing process and find more of it ends up in my face than in the photos. It was really tasty.

I am sorta having a new love affair with kale (sorry hunny):oops: I have been adding into all sorts of foods. Did you know that a cup of kale is only 33 calories? Crazy huh? Also, low in Saturated Fat, and very low in Cholesterol. It is also a good source of Dietary Fiber, Protein, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Folate, Iron, Magnesium and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Potassium, Copper and Manganese. Recently I've been asking myself "What can I do with kale beyond salads and smoothies?" Especially when I'm looking for meatless recipes to share.

I’ve been wanting to try kale pesto for ages now, and a fancy spring risotto seemed the perfect vehicle. This pesto was very flavourful, nice and garlicky, and packed just a little bit of fresh herby flavour thanks to the addition of some basil. If you’re one of those people who doesn’t like kale (and I know you’re out there. And what are you thinking?) you should give this pesto a try.

Could there be anything more comforting, on a damp October night, than a beautiful plate of vegan shroom & kale pesto risotto? The aromas dancing up to your nose, delivering the scents of fall in the form of soft kale ribbons and meaty morsels of mushrooms?

I’d have to say pesto is my favourite Italian sauce. I love the bite of garlic combined with shrooms and fresh greens. Though I’m a big fan of traditional basil pesto, lately I’ve been making kale pesto more and more.

I love risotto. I make it often, but it took me a long time to perfect it. I know that this recipe looks a little…intense. I swear that it is relatively normal and will not stain your teeth green. Trust me. I ate a lot of it (you know, for testing purposes). Also, I ended up taking it to school for lunch. And yeah, the last thing I wanted to do was walk around like a dope with green teeth. Not a great look. But let’s be honest here. It sounds like something that would happen to me.

Now, why exactly should you serve this risotto dish? Well, not only will the mushrooms lend your dish an earthy flavor, it also has a ton of nutritional value. Kale, on the other hand, may be a sort of “love ‘em or hate ‘em” type of vegetable but it is certainly worth the inclusion because of all the health benefits it can bring to you.


  • Antioxidants – helps rid your body of free radicals, boosts your immune system, lowers inflammation, and has anti-cancer properties.

  • Fiber – aids in the absorption of nutrients from food and aids digestion.

  • Protein – an essential element for building bones, muscles, and various tissues as well as in the making of enzymes and hormones.

  • Zinc – aids in the making of proteins and DNA, and boosts the immune system.

  • Copper – an important mineral in the making of red blood cells and also boosts the immune system.

  • Vitamins – has a range of essential vitamins such as vitamin B1 for your nerves and heart, vitamin B6 for your immune system and regulating your blood sugar, vitamin B9 for your liver, and vitamin B12 for nerve function, DNA synthesis, and red blood cells health.


  • Protein – plays a significant role in building bones, muscles and tissues (same as above).

  • Calcium – strengthens bones and prevents bone density loss. It also helps in blood clotting, and nerve and muscle function.

  • Manganese – aids in forming connective tissues, bones, blood clotting capabilities, and sex hormones as well as helps in the absorption of calcium, metabolism of fat and carbs, and regulating blood sugar.

  • Vitamins – also has a range of vitamins, just like mushrooms, such as vitamin A for your eyes, vitamin C for boosting the immune system and better absorption of calcium, and vitamin K for strengthening the bones and preventing heart disease.

One of the defining characteristics of risotto is in its creamy texture. Most people assume that requires the use of butter, cream, or cheese. The secret to a perfectly creamy risotto is not butter or cream. Nope! What?!?! I hear all of you screaming, but I promise it is true. It’s all about the rice! Risotto is traditionally made from arborio rice. This short grain rice releases much of its starch when it cooks and creates the rich and velvety texture that is expected in risotto dishes. You just have to have a little patience, cook the risotto slowly and stir it a lot. It is really not hard, it just takes being mindful the 30 minutes while it is cooking.

This recipe has it all. It’s made in the “classic” risotto style, so don’t think that we’re taking any short cuts with this recipe. None of that quick-cooking, put a lid on it and forget it stuff. And while it may take an hour out of your life, it’s so worth it. Just use one hand to stir the rice and the other to roll mindlessly through Instagram.

it’s not that it’s difficult to make. I think it’s a common misconception that it is difficult to make. It just takes time and attention, and it’s very easy to go from underdone to overdone. I think it’s very much a trial and error type of recipe. Once you get it right, it’s like riding a bike, you never forget it.

I like to measure out all of the ingredients before I start so that I cut down on time spent frantically running around the kitchen. This is probably because my mom said “mise en place” (everything in its place) every. single. time. I ever baked or cooked with her as a kid. I guess her reminder worked, because every time I’m about to cook I hear “meez en plaz…meez en plaz, Emily”. Hmm.

With the temperature seriously dropping all my body craves is comforting, soul warming food. In all honestly the idea of a salad for dinner really doesn’t appeal me anymore! I’m sure when eventually the temperatures will raise again I’ll start to fancy more raw food but for the moment I have got to be clever and trying to still get lots of green goodness into my daily routine. This recipe is actually a very good example, even if you don’t like kale! If you don’t like kale (how dare you?! Just kidding…), feel free to leave it out or substitute with spinach.


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