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Kale Risotto in the Pressure Cooker

Lets talk easy-peasy–risotto cooked in a pressure cooker. No standing at the stove stirring here. Green ribbons of vitamin-rich kale mixed into perfectly plumped creamy rice—this kale risotto.

Kale Risotto in Pressure Cooker

I used to avoid making risotto, the classic Northern Italian rice dish. You’re supposed to cook the rice in an exacting way, by slowly adding liquid, stirring all the while. As soon as I read the directions I turned the cookbook page and moved on to something else. Not any more. I love risotto’s barely toothy texture and that I can flavor risotto with so many different vegetables—particularly green leafy ones.

Ingredients for kale risotto

Especially when the weather turns cool, my tummy and soul crave risotto—so much that I’d even stand over the pot, patiently stirring the rice into soothing creaminess. The method is easy, it just takes time. I give directions for traditional risotto in the recipe details below.

Kale risotto in pressure cooker

For pressure-cooked kale risotto you first sauté onion and garlic in olive oil, then stir in Italian short-grain Arborio rice. After the veggie stock goes in the pot, close the lid and bring to pressure for only 4 minutes!

You need to release the pressure immediately so the rice doesn’t get overcooked. Immediately stir in the kale, plus a bit of aged sharp cheese if you wish, into the almost-cooked rice, adding more stock to keep the risotto creamy dreamy. It’s done when the rice gives to the bite of your front tooth, tender but still firm, al dente. Ta-da—green and white etherealness!

Kale Risotto recipe details:

  • Italian short-grain rice is essential for authentic risotto. It’s able to absorb plenty of liquid, yet stay al dente, like pasta. Risotto’s sauce-like consistency comes from the starch in the rice, which dissolves into the liquid as it cooks.
  • Your finished risotto should be moist, but not soupy.
  • Brown rice or domestic short-grain rice just won’t create creamy goodness—don’t go there. I’ve heard they sometimes sell brown Arborio rice at Trader Joe’s, though since it would have the outer bran intact, the starch would have less of a chance to dissolve into the veggie stock, making a less creamy risotto.
  • Vegan? Skip the cheese and be sure to add the lemon juice instead.
  • For the extra flavor bump, as many risotto cooks do, stir in a shot of white wine before adding the veggie stock. If you don’t have or want the wine, just substitute veggie stock.

Kale Risotto

  • If you have been following my blog for a while, you know that I am way into pressure cookers—for absolutely the best beans, and especially for nourishing meals like risotto and easy quick soups. Did you know that busy modern Italian cooks use pressure cookers all the time, and that both of my pressure cookers are made in Italy?
  • If you’re in the market for a pressure cooker—there are many choices. I use my top-of-the-line Kuhn-Rikon all the time. My friend Barbara favors electric pressure cookers—you’ll find more pressure cooker recipes on her blog, Pressure Cooking Today.
  • This post for Spinach and Goat Cheese Risotto tells more about pressure cookers, especially the safer new generation ones. You might also want to check out my Risotto with Bok Choy.

No pressure cooker? Here’s how:

  • Use more veggie stock—about 5 to 5 ½ cups; keep it simmering hot in a separate pot. Sauté the aromatics in a saucepan with the oil, then add the rice, stirring until coated with oil and slightly translucent, just as you would when pressure cooking. Add the liquid ½ cup at a time, stirring constantly, adding more when each addition is just about absorbed. Add and stir and add more liquid, until the rice is almost tender, 20-35 minutes. Stir the kale and basil, and cheese if using. Continue to cook, adding more stock, ¼ cup at a time, until the kale wilts and the rice is tender but still firm, and bound with a creamy sauce.

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Kale Risotto in the Pressure Cooker
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
30 mins
This green and white kale risotto--creamy delicious and nutritious--comes together so fast you will find yourself making it once a week. Have fun swapping out the kale for other greens too.
  • 2 tablespoons olive or grapeseed oil
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 2 cloves garlic , minced
  • 1 ½ cups Arborio rice
  • ½ cup white wine or vegetable stock
  • 3 ½ cups vegetable stock
  • 1 bunch kale , stems removed and chopped in 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil or cilantro , optional
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese , optional
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon Real Salt
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice or apple cider vinegar , optional
  1. Heat the oil in a pressure cooker. Over medium heat, cook and stir the onions and garlic, for about 5 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Add the rice, and continue to stir to coat the grains. If using the wine, add and stir for about a minute. Add the vegetable stock.
  2. Lock the lid in place. Over high heat, bring to high pressure. Lower the heat just enough to maintain high pressure and cook for four minutes. Release the pressure immediately, following the directions for your pressure cooker. When the pressure indicator has dropped, carefully remove the lid.
  3. Return to the heat and stir in the kale and chopped herbs, if using. Cook and stir constantly until the kale has cooked and shrunk, about 5 minutes. If the risotto seems dry (not creamy) add more vegetable stock, continuing to stir. Stir in the cheese, if using, and the red pepper flakes. Taste and add salt as needed. Brighten the flavors with a splash of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar.
Recipe Notes
  • Lacinato kale, aka Tuscan kale, dinosaur kale, black kale or cavalo nero, with its flat, dark, almost blue-green leaves, is my first kale choice. (I once read a nutrition article--where I don’t remember—that said Lacinato kale is richer in cancer-preventing antioxidants than its curlier cultivar varietals.)
  • To make risotto without a pressure cooker, have 5 to 5 ½ cups of hot stock ready in a separate pot. Proceed as you would for the pressure cooker, except add the stock ½ cup at a time, stirring constantly at a low simmer, until the rice is almost tender, 20-25 minutes. Add the kale and other seasoning as you would for pressure cooked risotto.

This is an update of a recipe I posted in August 2012. Below is the photo that I posted–yikes!

Lacinato Kale keeping fresh in water for kale risotto


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