It was the night before Thanksgiving and a nutritious but not labor intensive meal was
needed before embarking on the next day's side dish preparation (stuffing,
nontraditional mashed potatoes, squash puree). That morning bob
had heard about the mental health benefits of the Omega-3 fatty acids in fish like salmon
and sea bass: high enough levels help reduce depression and other various head
malfunctions. So when the stuffed salmon rolls in various stuffing configurations wafted
into bob's view at the seafood counter during the last minute supermarket acquisition
trip, it was only a matter of choosing the more interesting version. Consultation with ani
settled on the spinach, goat cheese and pinenut stuffing. Just pop in the oven and come up
with a complimentary starch/veggie side... why not spinach risotto, since we had an
unopened bag of pre-washed baby spinach in the fridge requiring no prep, purchased as an
alternative salad green.
Hauling out a few of our many risotto cookbooks led to the obvious result: just do a
standard risotto base and throw in the spinach at one point or another, with nutmeg as the
usual affinity spice. The only question was to chop or not. These babies were kind of
small already, and more delicate, so why not dispense with the chopping too. After all, a
long evening of kitchen work was waiting. Halfway through, the baby spinach joins the mix,
but after wilting down and blending in, bob noted a lack of convergence, i.e., of color
diffusion, so he whipped out the hand blender and took a wack at a few spots to liberate
some green, while leaving the still pre-al dente rice grains largely intact. Next time a
bit of chopping first perhaps.
Served with the stuffed salmon and some plain yogurt on the side this was a pretty good
start to our evening.
- 2 or 3 T olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 c arborio rice
- 1/2 c white wine
- 2 t (rounded) veggie broth paste
- spinach: 1 package 6oz washed baby spinach, or any fresh spinach,
or even frozen spinach in a pinch
- freshly ground pepper, salt to taste
- 1 t nutmeg
- 1 T butter
- 1/2 c freshly grated parmigiano
- This is the usual 1-2-3 risotto treatment. Start a teapot with at least 4 cups of water
- Chop up the washed fresh spinach. This can be done dry or wet in a food processor,
finely or coarsely as your mood suites you. You can also sauté it with some garlic first,
then add 1/4 c water and food process it as a variation, making it more like a pesto
paste. In a pinch you can also used frozen spinach, which you cook first according to the
directions. Set aside.
- Prepare the chopped onion, which can be a large one if you like onions.
- Sauté the onion in olive oil until translucent (softened and a bit transparent).
- Stir in the rice until well coated and mix it up a bit for a minute over medium heat,
then throw in the white wine and evaporate it off.
- Then add a cup of boiling water and the veggie paste
(or equivalent powder or cubes) and stir the paste into the mixture to disolve it.
- Continue adding about 1/23/4 cup of boiling water at a time when the water is
showing signs of being absorbed and before the rice starts sticking to the bottom, for
about 1215 minutes.
- Stir in the spinach and continue for another 5 minutes or so.
- Turn off the heat and stir in the salt and pepper, nutmeg, butter and parmigiano.
- Serve immediately with extra freshly grated pepper on each serving, optional extra
- Pre-washed baby spinach is another product that seems to have become universal in the US.
The markup from the extra processing makes a nice profit for the producers and the
convenience is nice for those who can afford it. Often now found in supermarket salad bars
for an even higher markup, though in optional smaller quantities.