Ever since I learned about the possibility of riceless risotto, it has become a staple lunch and dinner in our home. In this type of dish, rice gets replaced with rice-sized ‘grains’ made up of a chopped vegetable. I’ve made it my mission to try making ‘rice’ of all kinds of veggies, and so far I’ve really enjoyed riceless risotto made with broccoli stems, cauliflower and rutabaga.
Many winter vegetables work very well for replacing rice in risotto, and winter squash is at the top of that list. For this version, I used kabocha squash and curry spice for their warming wintery flavors, with a healthy dose of kale. The result is a very comforting and nourishing dish that can work as a main or side.
Since preparing this post, I tried out different types of winter squashes in the recipe, and all of them work equally well. The only thing to note is that cooking time varies according to the type of squash you use (for example, buttercup squash requires less cooking time than kabocha), so I recommend tasting and adjusting as you go.
1 bunch kale – stems removed, leaves chopped into bite size pieces
1/2 medium kabocha squash or other winter squash – roughly chopped, skin removed
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 large onion – finely chopped
1 tablespoon curry powder (I used homemade curry from this amazing book)
1 1/2 cup warm good quality vegetable broth
1 cup unsweetened canned coconut milk, plus more if needed
1/2 lime – juice
Parmesan or sheep/goat milk feta – to taste, optional
freshly ground black pepper
1-2 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add kale, blanch for 3 minutes, drain and rinse under cold water. Squeeze with you hands to remove water excess, set aside.
2. Pulse kabocha squash pieces in a food processor into rice sized pieces. You may need to work in batches, depending on the size of your food processor.
3. Warm coconut oil in a large pan over medium low heat, add onions and saute for about 7-10 minutes, until soft and translucent. Add curry, squash and large pinch of salt, saute for 1 minute.
4. Add 1 cup veggie broth and cook for 10 minutes, stirring often. Add another 1/2 cup veggie broth and cook for another 5 minutes. Add coconut milk and cook for 2 more minutes.
5. Add kale, stir it into the risotto and cook for another 5 minutes. Taste the risotto at this point. If kabocha”rice” seems not soft enough to your taste, cook it for another 2-5 minutes. Add more broth or coconut milk, a little bit at a time, if needed.
6. Remove from heat, add a generous squeeze of lime juice and cheese if using. Taste for salt and spices, add salt and/or freshly ground black pepper, if desired. Garnish with parsley and serve warm.