October 14, 2010

Daring Cooks’ Challenge: Risotto-Stuffed Pseudo Grape Leaves

Surprisingly enough, today is October 14th! I was under the impression that tomorrow was the 14th, which is why this post is both late and incredibly rushed. Time management and I have not been getting along all that well lately and, unfortunately, studying for my Business Law final in the wee hours of the morning took precedence over the bloggy business. Those 3 am study hours then caused me to get hungry, eat a crunchy taco, have really strange dreams, sleep in, and then sprint to class this morning. Case in point, my apologies for the late posting—it’s quite hard to stop the domino effect of procrastination once it’s started.

Our October 2010 hostess, Lori of Lori’s Lipsmacking Goodness, has challenged The Daring Cooks to stuff grape leaves. Lori chose a recipe from Aromas of Aleppo and a recipe from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food. I attempted to scour the grocery stores for some suitable grape leaves, but ended up substituting them with kale, which although a bit unruly, worked pretty well.

When it came to the filling, after perusing a few recipes, I noticed that most of them involved some sort of rice-based filling. This inspired me to stuff them with not just any rice, but the creamy, dreamy, all-around yum-tastic delight that is…

That’s pretty much how I act whenever risotto is mentioned.

On my road to risotto-filled deliciousness, I began by sautéing some onion and garlic in a saucepan with a nice bit of butter.

Then I added a bit of wine—mini size, of course.

I find it incredibly funny how the package proclaims their unbreakability. Worry-free sloshing, I suppose.

After that absorbs a bit, I poured in some chicken broth a little at a time, letting it absorb before adding more.

Once all the broth is absorbed, I added a nice handful of Parmesan cheese.

And that’s it! Risotto—check.

Now it was time for the kale.

To prepare the kale for stuffing, I blanched it for about 30 seconds in boiling water so it’d be pliable.

After that, I placed a nice dollop of risotto in the middle and rolled away.

For some reason, I bought just one bunch of kale and ended up making way too few of these to line a whole pot, which probably contributed to why I had problems with them unraveling, even after weighing them down with several hefty little plates. Still, to get these cooked, first I browned them one one side in the pot until the tops started to sweat.

Then I covered them with some heavy plates and topped them with water.

After letting that boil for about an hour, I had pseudo stuffed grape leaves!

They’re quite yummy with tzatziki sauce.

Actually, anything is quite yummy with tzatziki sauce.

Risotto-Stuffed Pseudo Grape Leaves

Recipe adapted from “Basic Risotto” from Everyday Italian by Giada de Laurentiis and a bit of Daring Cooks info

Printable Recipe

4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth

3 tablespoons butter

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 onion, finely chopped

1 1/2 cups Arborio rice

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Several bunches of kale, stalks removed and leaves blanched

Place the broth in a microwave-safe container and heat for a few minutes.

In a large, heavy saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat and sauté the garlic and onions until translucent. Add the rice and stir to coat. Add the wine and cook until it’s mostly absorbed. Add 1/2 cup of the broth and stir until almost completely absorbed, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking the rice, adding 1/2 cup broth at a time, allowing each addition to absorb before adding the next, until the rice is tender, but still slightly firm—about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and the remaining tablespoon of butter.

To make stuffed kale, take a piece of blanched kale—stem side up—and place about a tablespoon of risotto towards the bottom. Bringing the sides into the middle, roll the kale tightly.

Heat a glug of oil in a large, heavy pot and arrange the stuffed kale inside. Once the leaves begin to sweat, weight them down with a heavy plate or two and cover with water. Cover and boil for about an hour, replenishing the water as needed.

This was a pretty strange idea for me, so I’m not sure as to what’s the best method or temperature for serving them. All I know is that anything’s delicious with tzatziki sauce. That is all.


  1. OOOO! I love risotto risotto risotto! And I'm a bit fong of your David Tennant clip. Creative concept with the entire recipe. Kudos Koci!

  2. What a great idea to use risotto! Your kale rolls look beautiful - so lovely and green.

    "Actually, anything is quite yummy with tzatziki sauce."


    Hope your exams went well & thanks for the unexpected David Tennant. :D

  3. @Becky: Why thank you! I love risotto risotto risotto, too! :D

    @Suzler: Thanks! Before I decided anything else about this project, I knew that there needed to be a David Tennant clip. ^_^

  4. what a great make over of a simple risotto, so green (i love green :d )
    thanks for sharing

  5. I love risotto too!! The stuffed kale must have tasted delicious with the tzatziki..great job!

  6. oooo risotto! bravo! it looks absolutely delicious.

  7. Lovely photos and it sounds like it was great fun also. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  8. Great idea using the kale & risotto. What an inspired move!! I wanted to do the challenge but have been travelling too much for work and couldn't even think of where I'd be able to pick up grape leaves. This dish is genius, I'm sure you more than passed your exam =)

  9. You are so creative! Come to think of it I have never seen grape leaves in a store. Maybe you have to go to a local greek restaurant?

  10. Fancy and delicious is always impressive to me :) Nice job on the challenge!

  11. What an excellent idea to use risotto for the filling. Now why didn't I think of that? The cheesy creamy rice must've been a dream with the kale.

  12. Beautiful idea and delicious looking post. I have always loved stuffed (and stuffing) grape leaves and cabbage leaves- both very popular items in Romania. Tasty!

  13. @GreenGirl: hehehe Green's the best!

    @chef_d: Risotto is just plain amazing! Thanks!

    @Becca: Thank you!

    @Audax: Coolios! Say hi to the folks in Sydney for me! :D

    @theveggie: Thanks! Those grape leaves are just plain sneaky. But still, traveling's very fun, too. :)

    @Carolyn: I had thought of venturing to my local Mediterranean market...but I was feeling a little lazy. :D

    @baking.serendipity: Thank you!

    @Marisa: Oh lordy, lordy, lordy, how I love risotto!

    @Andra: How cool! This was only the second time I've ever tried them, but now I definitely want to make some more.

  14. That's a really interesting twist on risotto, and it sneaks in a portion of greens too!

  15. I am a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to stuffed grape leaves, but the substitution of kale sounds great!! Good job with this challenge :)


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