Winter is a time of year when all I feel like doing is getting under my covers, drinking bottomless cups of tea, reading and watching Netflix on repeat. Even though this comprises about 75% of my winter routine, sometimes I’ll stray from the norm.
This past weekend I went to go visit my friend Julicia in Philadelphia. I love Philadelphia year-round, but the winters can be a little intense (to say the least). Bearing this in mind, I took the earliest bus up on Saturday in full winter garb, ready to handle whatever came my way.
It ended up snowing but it wasn’t too bad, and Julicia and I trekked out to West Chester, Pennsylvania on Sunday to visit a place called “Book Barn.” It’s a huge old farm house with more than four stories, and it’s covered wall-to-wall with old books, posters and postcards. Even though it was drafty and cold, I loved walking through the rows of books and seeing what caught my eye. It reminded me of being in college, when I used to wander through the library and browse new titles, sitting for hours in one row reading plays or novels. I ended up finding a 1908 edition of an Oscar Wilde play and a hardback book on California road trips.
When I got back to D.C., they were forecasting more snow so I decided to make this Bon Appetit risotto for dinner. Nothing is better than risotto on a cold winter night (except maybe hot chocolate), and I was intrigued by the prospect of “oven risotto” because most recipes require endless amounts of stirring. Even though I was somewhat skeptical of how the dish would turn out without this step, I was not disappointed.
The rice was soft and slightly chewy, the Parmesan added some bite and the butter made the whole dish creamy and rich. I also recommend sprinkling some toasted walnuts and cheese on top before serving–it adds a whole other layer to the dish.
I told my roommate that it is one of the best things I’ve ever made, and I’d stand by that claim. I will definitely be adding this recipe to my winter repertoire, somewhere between the endless cups of tea and Netflix binges.
Oven Risotto with Kale Pesto (from Bon Appetit)
½ cup walnuts, coarsely chopped, divided
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 cup arborio rice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup dry white wine
1 small garlic clove
1 cup (packed) fresh parsley leaves
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
2 cups torn Tuscan kale leaves, divided
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 ounces Parmesan, finely grated (about 2 cups)
Preheat oven to 350°. Toast walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, 8–10 minutes. Let cool.
Meanwhile, heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large ovenproof saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until softened and translucent, 5–8 minutes. Stir in rice; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until some grains are translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add wine, bring to a simmer, and cook until pan is almost dry, about 3 minutes. Add 2 cups very hot water; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, cover, and bake in oven until liquid is mostly absorbed but rice is still starchy in the center, 15–18 minutes (it should be undercooked).
Meanwhile, pulse garlic and half of toasted walnuts in a food processor until very finely ground. Add parsley, chives, half of kale, remaining 2 Tbsp. oil, and ¼ cup cold water; process until smooth; season pesto with salt and pepper.
Set saucepan over medium heat. Add ¾ cup very hot water and cook rice, stirring constantly, until it is tender but still has some bite and sauce is creamy, about 3 minutes. Stir in pesto, butter, three-quarters of Parmesan, and remaining kale. Adjust consistency with water, if needed; season with salt and pepper. Serve topped with remaining walnuts and cheese.