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Spinach Risotto Recipe

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When most people hear the word “risotto”, the first couple things they think of is that it’s Italian, and that it’s a dish that can only be found in upscale, expensive restaurants. What is risotto, exactly? 

Risotto is indeed an Italian dish, specifically a rice-based one that has a creamy texture and savory taste. Rice is cooked in broth and mixed with add-ins such as meat, vegetables, or spices. Risotto gets its creamy texture from arborio, a type of grain that’s high in starch content. White wine is also an important element as it adds flavor and acidity to the dish. Another key element of risotto is parmesan, a type of cheese that not only adds to the creaminess, but also gives it saltiness and a tinge of a nutty flavor. 

Risotto sure can be a fancy, upscale dish, but did you know that you can also cook your own risotto right at home? Yes, you’ve read that right! You don’t have to break the bank and go to a restaurant just to have risotto! In this article, we’ll be teaching you how to cook your very own restaurant-quality risotto. 

For today’s recipe, we’ll be cooking a great spinach risotto with ingredients that you can easily find in your cupboard or the grocery store. Check it out!

Can I Use Baby Spinach for this Risotto Recipe?

For this spinach risotto recipe, we used chopped frozen spinach but you definitely can use baby spinach instead! Baby spinach is actually convenient to use in a spinach risotto as it is more tender than mature spinach.

What Can I Substitute for Arborio Rice?

If you don’t have or cannot find arborio rice, you can definitely use other types of grain instead in making risotto! You can opt for carnaroli rice, another type of Italian grain that cooks to a creamy texture, similar to arborio. Farro rice, another Italian grain, is a good option as well. If you’re in a pinch, you can use short-grain sushi rice or the long-grain basmati rice, both of which are easy to find. For healthier substitutes, you can use brown rice or quinoa.

Ingredients

You don’t have to fly all the way to Italy just to get ingredients for a great spinach risotto. A couple of the items in this recipe, such as onion, garlic, black pepper, oil, and butter can be found in your cupboards. 

As for grains, wine, parmesan, stock, and the like, we promise that they’re easy enough to acquire in your nearby grocery stores.  

  • 5 tablespoons butter, divided or 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 cups vegetable stock or chicken broth
  • 10 ounces chopped frozen spinach or 8 ounces baby spinach
  • 1-2 cups risotto rice 
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup or 1/2 cup dry white wine 
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon seasoning (basil, thyme, rosemary, etc.) 
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Instructions

Cooking spinach risotto might sound daunting but don’t fret, we promise you that it’s really simple and easy to do. Once you get the hang of this recipe, you’ll be cooking risotto like a pro! This recipe has a prep time of about 15 minutes and a cook time of 30 minutes. 

Step 1. If you’re using frozen chopped spinach, cook it according to the instructions on the package and let it cool down. Squeeze the excess water out of the spinach. If fresh spinach or baby spinach is what you have on hand, rinse and chop the spinach. 

Step 2. Using either vegetable broth or chicken broth, pour your broth of choice in a medium-sized saucepan, along with a cup of water, and heat it. When it turns steamy, keep it on low heat as you cook the rest of the risotto.

Step 3. In another saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of butter on low heat. If you’re opting for olive oil, put the 2 tablespoons of it on medium heat. Add in a cup of chopped onion and cook for about 5 minutes or until it’s translucent. Add in the garlic after and cook for about 3 minutes or a little longer. 

Step 4. Add the rice, about 2 cups, to the butter (or olive oil), onions, and garlic. Traditionally, arborio rice is the one used for risotto, but you can also opt for short-grain brown rice, carnaroli rice, sushi rice, or long-grain white rice. If you’re aiming for a healthier dish, you can also use quinoa. Cook your rice grains for about 2 to 3 minutes, or until the edges turn translucent and begin to color. 

Step 5. Add in the 1 cup dry white wine and cook it with the rice, stirring frequently until the wine has boiled away or has been absorbed by the rice. This should be done in moderately high heat. If you aren’t fond of white wine, you may use only 1/2 cup of it.

Step 6. Once the wine has been absorbed, add the broth. You can use chicken stock or vegetable broth, whichever you prefer. Add the broth 1 cup at a time. With each cup of broth, it’s important to stir the rice and let the broth be absorbed by the rice before pouring in another cup. After adding all your broth 1 cup at a time, taste your risotto and add 1 teaspoon of your preferred seasoning. Simmer for around 5 minutes while stirring occasionally.

When your risotto reaches an al dente state, meaning that it is cooked through with a chewy texture, it is ready. 

Step 7. Add 1 tablespoon of the remaining butter, 3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, and your chopped spinach. Stir and cook them all together. Afterward, add the lemon zest and lemon juice. If you aren’t fond of lemon zest, you can skip it.

Parmesan adds a salty flair to the risotto, so there is no need for salt. However, if you find the saltiness of the spinach risotto not up to your liking, you can always add a little more parmesan cheese than required, or add salt and pepper instead. Serve immediately.

Optional: A spinach risotto is already delicious on its own but you can always mix in other ingredients to it, such as peas, mushroom, chicken, sweet potato, and more. No matter what you choose as an addition to the recipe, it’ll be a definite level up to your usual spinach risotto.  

If you have leftovers, you can re-heat the dish by adding more stock to it. 

There you have it! You’ve successfully made a great plate of spinach risotto! Cooking your own restaurant-quality risotto in the comfort of your own kitchen feels great, doesn’t it? You don’t have to empty your wallet out just for fine dining and what’s more, you can now have this dish anytime, every time that you want. You can also level up this recipe by adding other elements such as a soft meat like chicken, or other vegetables such as mushroom and peas. Anything is possible!

Check out our other rice recipes to see what else you can make! 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I substitute the 1/2 cup dry white wine with something else?

While white wine is an important element in risotto, you can always substitute it with another ingredient! You can still cook this dish by using a squeeze of lime juice, red wine, or grape juice. Keep in mind that when using substitutes, only use around 2 teaspoons of it.

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Ji-hyun

Hailing from California, USA. Ji-hyun is a Korean American 🇰🇷🇺🇸 with two growing boys who eat their weight in rice each week. After graduating UCLA & becoming a mom she started We Know Rice as a guide for all the students and moms out there looking to cook healthy and filling meals.

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