Herb & Spinach Risotto! This spring-inspired risotto is super simple and easy to make. It’s made with fresh baby spinach, basil, Italian parsley and parmesan, plus a hint of lemon and chili. The secret to it’s pretty spring green color is that the spinach and herbs are stirred in at the last-minute — retaining their flavor, nutrition and of course giving a classic comfort food dish a fresh twist and fantastic pop of color.
A few things to keep in mind when making a homemade risotto:
- Always use heated broth. This is important so it doesn’t slow down the cooking process when added to the rice.
- And speaking of broth… its flavor plays a role in the overall flavor of the risotto so use the best you have. Homemade broth is definitely preferred, but since we don’t always have this on hand, use a high-quality brand with a tasty homemade flavor or organic bouillon cube.
- Choose arborio or carnaroli rice —- and don’t rinse the rice. You want to use a starchy rice because it’s the stirring and slow even cooking that helps release the starch to create a creamy risotto.
- Cook the rice at a simmer, rather than a boil, so the rice can cook slowly and evenly. Cook until just “al dente”, so give it a try after 18 minutes, to see where it’s at.
- Risotto is best served immediately, but also heats up well as leftovers. You can even make “risotto cakes” with it. It’s similar to making schnitzel. Just form portions into a hamburger-like shape, dip in flour, then in egg, then in bread crumbs. Place each cake in the hot oil and fry for a few minutes on each side. Perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner!
How to serve this Herb & Spinach Risotto
Incredibly versatile, consider this a perfect meatless main dish or wonderfully tasty side. It make a great addition to grilled anything! Chicken or tiger prawns or other favorite choice of protein. I think spinach risotto goes great with salmon. Or you could simply serve this as a meatless meal accompanied with grilled or roasted vegetables. One of my favorites this time of year is a side of steamed green asparagus.
Herb & Spinach Risotto
For the herb paste:
- 50 g fresh baby spinach leaves
- 1 generous handful fresh basil leaves
- 1 generous handful fresh Italian parsley leaves
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind, organic
- 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes
For the risotto:
- 3 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth (750 ml)
- 1 cup water (250 ml)
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 shallots, finely diced
- 1 1/2 cups short-grain rice (such as arborio or carnarioli) (300 g)
- 200 ml dry white wine
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (30 g), plus more for serving
- 1 tablespoon butter (unsalted)
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- diced cherry tomatoes
- pine nuts, lightly toasted
Blend ingredients for the herb paste together in processor or with a immersion blender until a thick paste forms.
In a saucepan, bring broth and water to simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and cover to keep warm.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in medium non-stick saucepan (or wok) over medium heat. Add shallots; sauté until soft, stirring often, about 8 minutes.
Add the rice and stir for 2 minutes. Mix in the wine and once it has been almost absorbed, stir in a ladleful of hot broth. Simmer, stirring regularly, until broth is absorbed. Then add another ladleful, repeating the process, until rice is tender but still firm to bite, about 20 minutes.
Cover; remove from heat. Let stand for 2 minutes. Then uncover and stir in butter, parmesan cheese, herb paste, and lemon juice.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve while hot, garnished with chopped tomatoes, pine nuts and extra parmesan.
I usually make risotto using a wok (non-stick) since it's my go-to pan in the kitchen. If using a heavy-bottomed skillet or saucepan, then you will need to reduce the heat to medium-low when sautéing the onions and add a splash more olive oil.
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