A few weeks ago I discovered a new place in town (not exactly new, but new to me) and I kept going there with friends because of the nice design and atmosphere, pleasant service and delicious food. So I got the chance to sample a lot of their food (from my own plate but also from my friends’) and I can say that I loved everything. But, the dish that really provoked my imagination was a creamy spinach risotto with pancetta. It was divine.
And, as I had bought a lot of fresh spinach from the market last weekend that I cooked as a side for fish and also transformed it into some gorgeous looking (and tasting) salads with my ginger-soy sauce vinaigrette, I though to put the remaining spinach to a good use and try my hand at this creamy deliciousness. I skipped the pancetta since it was late in the evening and I felt I wanted to really taste the fresh spinach, added lots of butter and parmesan and indulged in its great taste together with a glass of Chablis.
So, without much further ado, I give you the recipe.
- 200g (2 handfuls) of fresh spinach – it should work just fine with frozen spinach, but the fresh version will have a more intense taste
- 2 medium sized shallots
- 1 cup of arborio rice
- 150 ml white wine
- 200 ml of cream
- 500 ml chicken stock (I usually have more on hand as I never really measure it, just add as much as needed)
- OPTIONAL: diced pancetta
- Start with the spinach: in a pan sauté one finely diced onion in a little butter. Once softened (add a little bit of salt to the onion to speed up this process) add the spinach and let it soften (it will happen quickly). Add a ladle / a ladle and a half of stock and bring it to a boil. Take it off the heat.
- Put the spinach and sauce in a blender and add the cream and blend until smooth. Set it aside.
- Start on the risotto: sauté the other finely diced onion in a tall pan in a little butter and once softened add the rice.
- Cook for approximately 1 minute over medium – low heat (this is the temperature that should be kept throughout the cooking of the risotto, to make sure that the rice is cooked evenly) and then add the wine. Stir from time to time and cook until all the liquid is absorbed.
- Start adding the hot stock, one ladle at the time, stirring continuously until the liquid is absorbed and add the next one. Repeat as many times necessary
- When the rice is almost cooked (check this by tasting it) add the spinach cream and let it simmer until most of the liquid is absorbed and the risotto has a creamy consistency.
- Once ready, remove from the heat, add grated parmesan (a couple teaspoons) and a few dices of butter. If you chose to also add the pancetta add it now and mix everything together. Cover the pan and let it sit for a few minutes.
- Serve it hot, pair it with a glass of white wine.