Originating in Italy, spinach risotto is a kind of creamy rice dish which toasts the rice and includes spinach. Popular in Italian restaurants, risotto is often considered a classy choice for an appetizer or as a side. It can be made at home, but unlike cooking simple rice, it requires constant attention.
The rice used in spinach risotto may be long, medium, or short grained. Traditionally Arborio rice is used and is recommended for the best results. If Arborio is unavailable, Carnaroli rice is the recommended alternative.
Olive oil, onions, and salt are also generally included in this dish, as well as spinach. The spinach may be fresh but is often frozen. Canned spinach is not recommended. Wine or dry vermouth and broth or water are also key ingredients to any type of risotto. Butter and cheese are often added after the rice is cooked.
Variations of spinach risotto may have other green vegetables, like peas, which are cooked at the same time as the spinach. Dill or dill weed, white pepper, and lemon peel are also ingredients that are only occasionally added to this dish. Additional seasonings are normally included at the end of the cooking process.
To prepare spinach risotto, the onions are chopped and then placed into a frying pan to cook in olive oil. Salt is usually added while the onions cook. The uncooked rice is then added to the pan and toasted. Cooks can tell when the rice is sufficiently toasted by the clicking noise the grains make as they are stirred.
Once the rice is toasted, the wine is added and the mixture is stirred until the liquid evaporates. Afterward, water or broth is added in small portions. The risotto is stirred while the rice absorbs the liquid, and only after all the liquid of one portion is absorbed is another portion added. The spinach is placed in the pan with the first portion of water. Salt may also be used during the cooking process.
Spinach risotto should be kept simmering during the entire cooking process. It also needs to be stirred nearly constantly, and the cook must be aware of how much liquid is left in the pan at all times. Once all the water is added, the mixture should be creamy and the rice cooked until it is al dente. The entire process generally takes 20–30 minutes.
After the risotto is removed from the heat, butter, Parmesan cheese, and black pepper may be added. The cheese may either be stirred into or top the finished product. Risotto should always be served immediately after cooking.