Monday, June 02, 2008

Spinach and pea risotto

This was a very rich, indulgent risotto for a Friday night. The combination of cream, Gruyere, and green vegetables -- tanginess, richness, and freshness -- worked perfectly.

The basic risotto technique is here. In brief: soften an onion, slowly and thoroughly, in a little butter, adding water if it threatens to catch; meanwhile, heat stock in another pan; tip the rice on to the onions, and stir until the grains are coated and hot; add stock, a ladleful at a time, keeping the contents of the pan at a gentle simmer and adding more stock when the previous addition has been absorbed; stop cooking when the rice is plump but still ad dente.

This time, I had 300g of arborio rice, a bag of spinach from the vegetable box, three handfuls of frozen peas, 150g of grated Gruyere, and about 125ml of cream. I washed the spinach and removed the stalks, and cooked it in my usual way: shoved wet into a pan, covered and cooked at full heat, stirred round after a minute or so until it has all wilted, and drained. When it was cool, I squeezed out some of the water (it seems as if you could go on extracting water from it for ever; I give up after a while), and chopped it. I cooked the peas in a little of the stock.

You (perhaps I mean I) want risotto that is moist but not fluid, so the trick is to get it to that state just as the rice is perfectly cooked. At this point I added the cream; there seemed to be rather a lot, and I turned up the heat to thicken it. But the risotto threatened to catch on the bottom of the pan. So I turned down the heat, tipped in the spinach and peas, gave them a quick stir, turned off the heat, and stirred in the Gruyere. I need not have worried: it all thickened up nicely. It served three greedy people.

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