Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Orzo Risotto with Kale and Chicken Sausage

Let's talk dining first!

I had a fabulous meal at ink last night, Top Chef winner Michael Voltaggio's new eatery.

It was certainly the most hotly anticipated new restaurant of the year, and it delivers and then some. I loved every dish that I tasted (it's a small plates menu, and we ordered at least three quarters of it). They were all interesting and well-balanced and unique. The cocktails were excellent, too. If you're looking for a great review and pictures, hop over to Kevin Eats (I love his blog!).

Next, the T-Day recap!

I'm happy to report that we survived a joint Thanksgiving with both sets of parents in Des Moines, Iowa. It was my parents' first trip to the Midwest, and I think they were pleasantly surprised. The cooking went off without a hitch—everybody pitched in. My father even tied on an apron and prepped brussels sprouts for roasting, something I don't think I've ever seen in my entire life!

It was a loud, boisterous household, just how you want to spend the T-Day holiday.

Now onto cooking!

In the post-Thanksgiving, winter months I always begin to crave comfort food. Orzo, in any form, certainly fits the bill. It's a rice-shaped pasta that can be prepared much like risotto. I buy a whole wheat version, which is a great, healthier alternative to white pasta.

For this hearty, winter dish, I cook the orzo like a risotto in chicken broth. Meanwhile, I saute chicken sausage (I prefer a spicy variety), kale (great in the winter months), and cherry tomatoes. To finish the dish, I stir it all together and add a healthy infusion of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

The resulting dish is hearty and creamy, the perfect antidote to the cold winter months.

Orzo Risotto with Kale and Chicken Sausage
Serves 4-6 people
Cooking time: about 30-40 minutes
Print Recipe

  • 1 lb whole wheat orzo (about 2 cups)
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cups kale, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups chicken sausage, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • pinch of chili flakes (optional)
  • 1/2 cup parmigiano-reggiano, grated
  • salt and freshly ground pepper 

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Quickly parboil the orzo for about 4-5 minutes, until it has softened, but is still hard in the middle. Drain and rinse with cool water.
  2. Add the stock to a pan and bring to a simmer. Add the orzo and simmer in the stock, stirring regularly, until all the liquid has been absorbed and the orzo is al dente. More stock may be used if needed. 
  3. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and the chili flakes and saute for one minute. Add the chicken sausage and cook for another minutes. Then, add the kale and the tomatoes. Continue cooking the mixture, stirring occasionally, until the kale is tender and the tomatoes have broken down (about 5-7 minutes). Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Add the sausage-kale mixture and the parmigiano-reggiano to the orzo, stirring to combine. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. 
  5. To serve, either plate the orzo or serve family style. Enjoy!

Source for Ingredients
  • whole wheat orzo, chicken sausage, organic kale, chili flakes, and organic cherry tomatoes from Whole Foods
  • garlic from the West Hollywood Farmers Market
  • organic low-sodium chicken stock and extra virgin olive oil from Trader Joe's

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