When spring finally makes an appearance around here, it does so with an explosion of green. Trees that have stood gloomily bare for months begin to leaf out all at once, beckoning us to wake up(!) and get ready for the warmer days to come.
Thus the inspiration for this lovely green spinach risotto.
It's a simple risotto—made in the classic way with risotto rice, stock, wine, and Parmesan—with the addition at the end of a half pound of chopped baby spinach with a little lemon zest and juice to brighten the flavors.
A tip about making risotto—use a rice that is meant for risotto, like arborio or carnaroli—and don't rinse the rice. You want to use a starchy rice because it's the stirring and slow even cooking that helps loosen the starch to create the creaminess of the risotto.
Risotto is best served immediately. It starts to firm up quickly after you make it. If you have leftovers and want to reheat, loosen with more stock.
We are using baby spinach because of its convenience and tenderness. If you are using mature spinach, thoroughly rinse it first. You may want to blanch it first for a few seconds, before chopping and using in this recipe.
- 5 Tbsp butter, divided 4 Tbsp and 1 Tbsp
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning (dried herbs such as basil and thyme)
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 cups (400 g) risotto rice (arborio, carnaroli, vialone nano)
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 5 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock for vegetarian option)
- 3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 8 ounces baby spinach, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt, more to taste
Heat stock and prep ingredients:
Make sure that all of your ingredients are ready to go before you start. Heat stock in a medium sized saucepan until steamy, lower the heat and keep warm while you make the risotto.
Cook onions and garlic:
Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a wide saucepan on medium to medium high heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent.
Add the garlic, Italian seasoning, and nutmeg and cook half a minute more.
Add the risotto rice:
Add the rice and toss to coat with the butter and onions. Let cook until the grains are translucent around the edges and beginning to color, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the white wine:
Add the white wine and stir it into the rice. Simmer and stir until the wine is almost completely boiled away or absorbed by the rice.
Add broth a ladleful at a time:
Begin to add the broth, a ladleful (about 1/2 a cup) at a time. After each addition of broth, stir the rice and do not add another ladleful until the liquid in the pot has been almost all absorbed by the rice.
When you are getting close to using up your heated broth, taste the risotto and add more seasonings if needed. Note that you will be adding Parmesan in the next step which is salty, so you may want to wait before adding more salt.
The risotto is ready when it is al dente, cooked through but still a little chewy to the bite, not mushy.
Stir in butter, Parmesan, spinach, lemon zest and lemon juice:
When the risotto is ready, finish by stirring in the remaining tablespoon of butter, the grated Parmesan, the chopped spinach, the lemon zest and lemon juice.
Add a little more broth to loosen the risotto. Taste for salt and add salt and pepper to taste.