Rice Side Dish Recipes - Pesto Rice With Kale

From now on, there will be no more boring white rice (or brown rice, for that matter) coming out of my kitchen. Not after I have discovered the Mediterranean way to cook rice. Spanish rice, Greek rice, Italian rice are the types of rice side dish recipes that are very fragrant, distinctly different, and easy to cook! It makes perfect sense to include them into my best recipe collection:

  • They are very healthy because you mix rice with a lot of veggies, beans, spices and leafy greens
  • You can eat these kinds of rice by itself, as a side dish, and often as a salad
  • They are very tasty and fragrant, with surprising bursts of flavor provided by its ingredients

pesto rice with kale


It has started long time ago with Risotto from my favourite book by Donna Klein, "Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen." That risotto was fantastic. But the idea was resurrected only recently after I ordered my meal in the high end Greek restaurant in Toronto… It came with green rice, mixed with lots of finely cut spinach and dill. It was simple and delicious. I was hooked.

Back home, I grabbed Donna’s book, opened the Rice section, searched my fridge and pantry for ingredients, and chose "Arborio Rice with Olives, Roasted Peppers, Pine Nuts, and Basil"

I don’t usually have basil in my fridge in the winter. Basil goes bad so quickly. But I always keep pesto there, and pesto can make any meal taste fantastic.

I add kale to everything, and this meal was not an exception. It turned out quite tasty with kale.

This meal can be served as a salad at room temperature or side dish. It can be done with orzo, white or brown rice, but, according to Donna Klein, if you want to store it, Arborio rice and orzo are the best.

Arborio rice can be found in Italian or high end supermarkets. Here is my easy to do variation of Donna’s recipe.

Arborio Rice With Roasted Peppers And Pesto

  • 3 large fresh red peppers ( mix of red and yellow is better) or canned roasted red peppers
  • 1.5 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 large cloves of garlic or 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • ½ cup pine nuts
  • 2 cups chopped kale
  • ½ cup pitted black olives, preferably calamata
  • ½ cup pitted green olives
  • 2 Tbsp pesto
  • 1 tomato, cubed
  1. If using canned roasted red peppers, skip this step. Otherwise, remove seeds from the peppers, cut in 4 pieces lengthwise, and arrange the on the oven rack cut side down, 4 inches from the heating element. Broil until partially charred for about 5 minutes, peel the skin, and cut into ¼ inch wide strips.
  2. Boil 3 liters of water, add salt, rice, and stir it several times. It takes only 12-15 minutes to cook, so don’t overcook it. Drain well and transfer into the bowl.
  3. Heat the oil in a large skillet; add garlic, and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add pine nuts, chopped kale, peppers, olives, pesto, and cook for a few minutes until the kale is bright green.
  4. Add rice, salt and pepper, mix well, cook for another 2 minutes.

Serve warm or at a room temperature.


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