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Tonight’s Dinner: Grilled kale and pancetta risotto recipe

Different kinds of greens are becoming a hot commodity because of their health value. Although several are bitter on their own, including them as an ingredient in the main dish rather than the centerpiece makes for a wonderful, hearty dinner that’s rich in flavor.

kale and pancetta risotto

Since 2012 has started, I’m trying to include more leafy greens in my diet. I’ve always been a fan of the basics like cabbage, lettuce and broccoli. But I’ve started buying more and more fresh spinach and kale to eat in salads or add to pastas. Why you ask? Well because they add a new, earthy flavor to my dinners and they have some serious health benefits too.

Did you know that one cup of kale contains only 36 calories, 5 grams of fiber and 15 percent of the daily requirement for calcium and vitamin B6, 180 percent of vitamin A, 200 percent of vitamin C and 1,020 percent of vitamin K? This leafy vegetable is also very good for the eyes (if you’d like to try something besides carrots), it lowers cholesterol and helps reduce the risk of heart disease, especially when cooked. So you can see why I’ve started adding kale to my weekly grocery list.

Since I’m trying to include kale more in my meals, I’ve started to watch for more recipes that use it. This risotto recipe from Sunset Magazine is just one perfect example.

Grilled kale and pancetta risotto recipe

Serves 4


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups kale, stems removed
  • 4 ounces pancetta, diced
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 cup dry white wine, like chardonnay
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup heirloom cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese


  1. Pour one tablespoon olive oil in a large bowl. Add the garlic and kale and toss to coat. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat and cook kale for about four minutes. Transfer kale to a plate, slice up and set aside.
  2. Brown pancetta in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Transfer pancetta to paper towels and set aside.
  3. Add the remaining olive oil to the same pan you used for the pancetta. Add the rice, shallot and garlic and cook until rice starts to toast and shallots start to soften, about two minutes. Reduce heat to medium and pour in the wine, stirring constantly until absorbed. Add one cup of broth and continue stirring until absorbed. Continue adding the broth one cup at a time and stirring until absorbed and rice is tender, about 20 minutes.
  4. Remove risotto from heat and fold in pancetta, butter, tomatoes, kale and cheese. Spoon into a serving dish and serve immediately.

More Tonight’s Dinner recipes >>

Other kale recipes

Blood orange, kale and avocado salad

Indian-spiced kale and chickpeas

Kale and toasted almond quiche

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