Cavolo Nero Risotto

Cavolo Nero Risotto

This risotto has a silky smooth texture and deep green color from cavolo nero (a.k.a. black kale or Tuscan kale). Packed with iron and big flavors, it’s a welcome twist on the classic dish.


  • 2 cups (500 ml) vegetable stock
  • 8 ounces (200 g) cavolo nero (Tuscan kale)
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 a white onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup (200 g) arborio rice
  • 1/3 cup (90 ml) vegan white wine
  • 3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp (20 g) vegan butter
  • Salt and black pepper to taste


  1. Place the vegetable stock in a medium saucepan and bring to a low simmer.
  2. Rinse the cavolo nero (Tuscan kale), then remove the stems and slice finely. Roughly slice the leaves. Place a wide frying pan over medium heat and add half the extra virgin olive oil. Once hot, add the cavolo nero stems. Fry for a minute then add the leaves along with 1/2 cup (100 ml) water to the pan and cover with a tight fitting lid. Leave to sweat for 3 minutes without removing the lid. When done, the greens should be wilted but still bright green in color, and the stems should be cooked through with little crunch. If not, add a splash more water and cover to steam for a few extra minutes.
  3. Once the cavolo nero is cooked, remove from the pan and transfer to a blender. Blend until smooth.
  4. Finely chop the onion and garlic. Wipe out the same pan and return it to the heat. Add the remaining olive oil and add the onion. Fry for a few minutes until soft, but don’t let it brown. Add the garlic and fry for a minute more.
  5. Add the rice and cook with the onions and garlic for 2 minutes, stirring a few times. Add the wine and let it simmer.
  6. Once the wine has reduced and almost entirely evaporated, spoon a ladleful of the simmering stock into the pan with the rice. Add the nutritional yeast as well. Bring to a simmer and stir constantly until almost all the stock has been absorbed. Repeat the process, adding stock and stirring constantly until each addition is absorbed. Yes, there’s a bit of stirring here.
  7. Once the stock is all used up and the rice is creamy with a slight chew in the center, stir in the blended cavolo nero. Add the lemon juice and zest then remove from the heat. Finally stir in the vegan butter and season with salt and pepper to taste before serving.
preparing kale

Be sure to remove the leaves from the stems of the cavolo nero and slice the stems roughly. This will ensure the stems and leaves cook through in the same time.

frying kale stems

Before steaming the cavolo nero, fry off the stems for a minute or two. Again this will ensure they cook through but also adds flavour to the final dish.

frying rice

Before adding the wine or the vegetable stock, be sure to toast the rice for a few minutes in the hot pan. This adds a slight nuttiness to the flavour of the risotto.

mixing risotto

When stirring through the cavolo nero puree, keep the heat and low cook only briefly. Any longer and you’ll lose that nice green colour.

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