Thursday, November 5, 2009

Spinach Risotto

A carb-addict, I tend to go for the starchy foods. In my pantry - which, in my galley kitchen really just amounts to my cabinets and countertops - I have a variety of different rices:
  • Regular old long-grain white rice which I buy in 10-lb bags and use in mixed-grain pilafs;
  • Long-grain brown rice;
  • White basmati rice, when I want Indian food;
  • Organic brown basmati rice, when I want to be virtuously healthy about craving Indian food;
  • Jasmine rice, its delicate fragrance essential for when I crave Thai food or want to make my butternut squash soup with chouri├žo and corn;
  • Sticky rice, or Glutinous rice from my local Korean grocer, which I use only when I make kimchi-fried rice. You may wonder, how often can a person actually make and eat kimchi-fried rice? Well, you'd be surprised. Living in Korea for a year has left me with a permanent craving for Korean foods which will strike at odd times.
  • Wild rice, not a real rice, but a reedy grass, native to North America. Still, when mixed with an assortment of mushrooms, it makes a wonderful stuffing for a leg of lamb.

  • and finally:

  • Arborio rice, for my rice porridge and risotto fixes.

I had my first bite of risotto at a friend's house. Until then, I'd had no idea what I was missing. I was fortunate in that I was present when she was making this, so I have since done my best to deconstruct the recipe and have made it many times, with great success.

In fact, this is the only way I have gotten my kids to eat cooked spinach when it's all out there in the open as a major ingredient; all the other times I've had to skulk around the kitchen furtively and hide the spinach in lasagna, stuffed shells or that one time when I made homemade ravioli.

Poor spinach! Such a maligned food, yet so good for us! This filling and warming recipe is a good bet to get some of your pickier eaters gobbling down the green stuff.




Spinach Risotto with Toasted Pine Nuts

Ingredients:
  • 6 cups broth (chicken, vegetable), heated
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 T butter
  • 2 shallots, finely minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 10-pkg frozen, chopped spinach, thawed
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted*


Directions:
  1. Bring the broth to a boil and the reduce heat to low.

  2. In a deep saucepan, melt the butter and olive oil over med-high heat. Saute the shallots, onion and garlic until soft and translucent, not browned.

  3. Add the rice and stir, coating all the grains.

  4. Add the spinach and stir well, breaking up any clumps. Let any excess liquid from the spinach absorb fully.

  5. Reduce heat to medium, stir in the wine; once it is absorbed, add the hot broth, one ladleful at a time, waiting until the liquid is absorbed before adding more.

  6. After 15 minutes, taste some of the rice. It should be firm, not mushy, but it should not be bright white in the center and chalky. You will probably have some broth left over.

  7. Take off the heat and stir in the parmesan and top with toasted pine nuts.

  8. Serve, garnished with additional grated cheese if you like.



* To toast the pine nuts, I like to do it in an un-greased skillet over high heat, stirring constantly, because once they start to burn, they go really fast! At the first sight of light browning, take them off the heat and put them into a bowl.

You can also toast them in the oven on an un-greased cookie sheet at a low setting, but you'll have to check them frequently.

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