This classic Italian dish may be served as a starter or as a main dish, accompanied by a salad and perhaps preceded by Italian cold cuts. Preparation is simple. Fresh spinach is wilted and puréed, a minced onion or shallot is sautéd in butter and olive oil, the rice is added and sautéd briefly. White wine is then added, followed by ladles of broth. When the rice is fully cooked, the spinach is stirred in, along with butter and grated parmesan.
For best results, choose mature spinach rather than baby leaves (if you’re in a hurry, chopped frozen spinach may be substituted — but this doesn’t really save a lot of time). As for the rice, choose an Italian variety such as Arborio or Carnaroli. And be sure to have chicken broth or vegetable broth on hand before you begin. (Tip: Whenever you make a pot of broth, you can freeze part of it in small quantities for future use.)
As for wine, spinach risotto would marry well with a flinty white such as a Sauvignon or Pinto Grigio. The quantities below will serve 2 as a main course and 3-4 as a starter.
7 ounces (200 g) fresh spinach
1 small onion or 2 shallots
1 ounce (30 g) parmesan
2 cups (500 ml) homemade chicken broth or vegetable broth
1 tsp. plus 2 tbps. unsalted butter
1 tsp. olive oil
1 cup (180 g) Arborio or Carnaroli rice
1/4 cup (60 ml) dry white wine
1/2 tsp. salt
freshly ground black pepper
Immerse the spinach in water in the bottom of your salad spinner. Transfer to the spinner’s basket, removing any large stems as you go. Spin dry.
Heat some water in your steamer. Steam the spinach until wilted, about 2 minutes. Purée the wilted spinach in a blender.
Peel and finely mince the onion or shallots. Grate the parmesan.
Bring the broth to a simmer. Keep it standing by over low heat.
In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat 1 tsp. butter and the olive oil to sizzling. Add the minced onion or shallots. Sauté, stirring, until wilted.
Add the rice and sauté, stirring, until the rice becomes translucent, about 3 minutes.
Add the white wine. Stir until it is absorbed.
Add one ladleful of broth. Cook until the broth is absorbed, stirring occasionally. Repeat, one ladleful at a time, until almost all of the broth is absorbed.
Stir in the puréed spinach. Add the salt and grind on some black pepper. Add the remaining 2 tbsp. of butter and the grated parmesan. Stir well to blend.
Serve piping hot in shallow bowls. Serves 2 as a main course, 3-4 as a starter.