I’ve got a bright and healthy main or side dish recipe for you on this blustery Monday evening – Tomato-Basil & Spinach Risotto!
Ever since making my first “real” risotto last month (versus oven-baked risotto which, don’t get me wrong, is good, but there’s nothin’ like the real thing,) I’ve felt the undeniable urge to try my hand at creating new versions. My crowning achievement will be to make one that includes mushrooms for my fungus-loving husband – I’m just not mentally ready to go there yet. It’s the texture, you see. Like licking cloth. Blarg!
After purchasing fresh basil for last week’s Crispy Gnochhi with Zucchini, Sweet Corn & Basil (still drooling over here, btw) I decided to use the leftovers in a super-light and summery risotto which combines creamy arborio rice, dry white wine, savory chicken broth, sweet vine-ripened tomatoes, tender baby spinach and, of course, lots of torn, fresh basil. The result is absolute perfection. If you are still waiting to try your hand at risotto, make this recipe yours!
Start the Tomato-Basil & Spinach Risotto by sauteing 1 minced shallot in a large skillet with 1 Tablespoon butter over medium heat. Season with salt & pepper then cook until translucent, and then add 1 minced garlic clove and saute for 30 more seconds.
Next add 3/4 cup arborio rice. You can find this in the rice aisle, or in the bulk bins!
Stir until the rice is coated in butter then add 1/4 cup dry white wine and stir until it’s nearly all absorbed. I used an inexpensive pinot grigio. As I mentioned last time, the alcohol from the wine will cook out, but it’s yummy, elegant flavor will remain in the final dish. SO GOOD.
Now turn your attention to 2-1/2 cups chicken broth that’s keeping warm on a back burner.
Add a ladle-full of chicken broth to the rice, about 1/2 cup, then stir the rice continuously until it’s nearly all absorbed. Then keep adding and stirring, and adding and stirring.
Best to put on a good tv show, some rockin’ tunes, or True Blood on the iPad, which I’ve now moved onto after watching, cough, the second season of Girls, cough. It doesn’t take forever, just 20 minutes or so.
K – time to add the mix-ins! Previously I’d seeded and chopped 2 vine-ripened tomatoes. Organic taste best, especially at this time of year. Equivalent amounts of Romas or Compari tomatoes would work great, too.
When there’s 1/4 of the broth left, add the tomatoes then keep stirring. When there’s one ladle-full left, add 2 cups baby spinach and a big handful of torn basil then stir, stir, stir.
By the way, I feel like risotto-making would be a great topic for a children’s book about patience. Finn quietly sings a song about patience to himself whenever he needs a little reminder, like yesterday when he was done with lunch but couldn’t be excused until everyone at the table was done too. Most. Adorable. Thing. EVER.
Anyways! After the last of the broth is absorbed, add 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese then stir it in. Taste then season with additional salt & pepper if needed.
This recipe serves 2 as a main dish, or 4 as a side. I served mine with “Salad Dressing Chicken.” That’s just chicken that’s been marinated in salad dressing – I used honey-mustard – for 15 minutes to half an hour, then sauteed or grilled. Super quick and easy, and it also works great with salmon!
Tomato-Basil & Spinach Risotto
Serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side
2-1/2 cups chicken broth
1 Tablespoon butter
1 shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
salt & pepper
3/4 cup arborio rice
1/4 cup dry white wine (I used pinot grigio)
2 vine-ripened tomatoes, seeded & chopped (or equivalent amount of Roma or Compari tomatoes)
2 cups baby spinach
handful torn basil
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Bring chicken broth to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce heat to low and keep hot.
- In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat then add shallot, season with salt & pepper, and then saute until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic then saute for 30 more seconds.
- Add rice then stir to coat in butter. Add wine then stir until nearly absorbed by rice. Add 1/2 cup chicken broth then stir continuously until broth is absorbed. Continue adding broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until nearly absorbed before adding more.
- When there’s 1/4 of the broth remaining, add tomatoes then continue stirring. Add baby spinach and basil with the last broth addition then continue stirring. Stir in parmesan cheese then add more salt & pepper to taste.
This recipe is really great for getting others – especially those who are intimidated by cooking – into the kitchen to help. It’s really just stirring! Enjoy!