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Risotto with Spinach and Basil
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Risotto with Spinach and Basil

This recipe was prepared by Chef John Maxwell on Real Virginia, Virginia Farm Bureau’s weekly television program.

Maxwell, a certified executive chef, culinary educator and member of the American Academy of Chefs, shares delicious seasonal recipes in a Real Virginia segment sponsored by Virginia Grown, a program of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.


Risotto with Spinach and Basil

4 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 medium shallot chopped, about ½ OR half a small onion
1½ cups arborio rice
½ cup vermouth or another dry white wine
½ teaspoon saffron
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh basil
1 cup roughly chopped fresh spinach
kosher salt, to taste


In a medium saucepan, heat the stock to a simmer, then lower the heat so that it remains hot but not boiling. You will use this throughout the cooking of the rice.

In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, warm the oil and melt 1 tablespoon butter. When the butter has melted, add chopped shallot or onion. Sauté for 2-3 minutes until slightly translucent.

Add the rice to the pot, and stir briskly with a wooden spoon so all the grains are coated with the oil and butter mixture. Sauté for a minute, until there is a slightly nutty aroma, but don’t let rice turn brown.

Add the wine, and cook while stirring until liquid is absorbed into the rice.

Add a ladle of hot chicken stock to the rice, and stir until the liquid is fully absorbed. When the rice appears almost dry, repeat this step. Stir the rice mixture constantly during this process to prevent scorching.

About halfway through adding the stock, add saffron to the mixture and continue stirring.

Continue to add stock and stir for 20-30 minutes, until all the stock is absorbed into the rice and the grains are tender but still firm to the bite, not crunchy.

Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, Parmesan cheese, basil and spinach. Add the spinach last, as it will wilt quickly. Season to taste with salt, and serve immediately.

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