Risotto is one of those dishes that seems intimidating to make and maybe even confusing to eat. Is it an entrée? Is it a side dish? I mean, it’s rice… So why do you only order it at restaurants?
If you make it carefully following the steps, below, it’s quite easy. Plus, the base recipe for risotto is a springboard for so many variations of vegetables (or even meats) depending what’s in season. And whether you serve it as a side dish or an entrée, it’s entirely satisfying.
Some words of advice:
- If you make a variation, some vegetables contain more water than others. The watery ones (tomatoes, zucchini, and although not a vegetable, mushrooms) will increase cooking time, or you can decrease the broth by 1/4 to 1/2 cup, depending on how watery your vegetables are.
- The wine you use matters. One time I didn’t have white wine, so I used red. It was still delicious, but the color of the risotto made it look like raw ground beef. Not pretty. I advise against it.
- The type of rice you use matters, too. Use arborio, available at most grocery stores. Do not use regular rice or you’ll end up with savory rice pudding.
Spinach Risotto with Shrimp
- 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
- 1 pound (16 ounces) extra-large shrimp, shells removed, de-veined and steamed until just cooked
- 1 10-ounce package of frozen spinach (or, 1 pound (16 ounces) fresh, cooked and pressed to removed juices… but why would you want to do that when frozen spinach is a heck of a lot easier!)
- 1 small onion, finely minced
- 1 lemon, zest and 2 tablespoons of juice
- 1 large garlic clove, or two small cloves, finely minced
- 5 cups of chicken or vegetable broth, divided
- 3/4 cup white wine
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt (not iodized table salt), more to taste
- Prepare the shrimp (peel, de-vein and steam until just cooked) and set aside in a separate bowl covered to keep warm
- Squeeze as much liquid out of the thawed spinach as you can. Then, using a blender or an immersion blender, blend spinach until it is pureed along with lemon juice, zest and 1 cup of the broth. Set aside
- In a medium sauce pan, heat the remaining chicken or vegetable broth until simmering. Keep it simmering throughout the rest of the cooking process
- In a large sauté pan over medium heat, heat olive oil. Sauté onions until translucent, about seven minutes. Add the minced garlic at the last minute
- Add the rice to the sauté pan with the onions and stir while cooking for approximately 3-5 minutes until the rice becomes translucent
- Add the white wine to the rice and simmer and stir until the wine is nearly evaporated
- Add one ladle of broth to the rice and simmer and stir until the broth is nearly evaporated. Add another ladle of broth and repeat this process until you have used all the broth. This process should take about 30 minutes. Taste a few kernels of rice for doneness. It should be ever-so-slightly al dente (a bit firm). The rice in the pan should appear creamy
- Add the pureed spinach mixture to the rice and stir well until fully incorporated. Continue simmering until the rice is creamy, not watery
- With the heat turned off, stir in the butter until fully blended
- Choices: At this point you can either add the shrimp to the risotto – or – ladle the risotto into serving bowls and place the shrimp on top of the risotto (I prefer the latter, since not everyone likes shrimp and this way you keep your vegetarian family and friends happy by keeping them separate)