This comforting spinach risotto is light, creamy and what spring dinners are made of! Full of savory flavors, including parmesan cheese, sauteed leeks and sweet peas, this creamy risotto is sure to impress!
May I introduce you to one my favorite spring recipes! A decadently bright and creamy spinach risotto featuring some of the seasons best ingredients, including tender peas and sauteed leeks.
Risotto is the perfect vessel to showcase seasonal flavors. During the fall, I love making butternut squash risotto and in the winter, a warm and comforting wild mushroom risotto that is fantastic alongside homemade caesar salad.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Perfectly cooked spinach risotto that is never too thick or "gummy".
- Bright spring flavors, including fresh lemon zest, spinach, leeks and peas, which inspired me to make Seasonally Spring Donabe.
- Risotto is naturally gluten free making it a delicious main course option for many diets.
- Arborio rice: This style of rice has short and wide grains and more starch than other styles of rice. The extra starch is what makes risotto so decadent and creamy.
- Vegetable Stock: Look for a low sodium vegetable stock to control the amount of salt added to the risotto recipe. We like Better than Bouillon.
- Leeks: Only use the white and light green parts of the leeks. The very dark green part is too fibrous, so save that for homemade stock!
- Garlic: Look for garlic bulbs with tight cloves, which means that the garlic is fresh.
- Spinach: Fresh baby spinach is used in the spinach risotto and cooks quickly. If fresh spinach isn't available, substitute with ¼ cup of frozen and thawed spinach.
- Peas: Frozen peas are easy to find, inexpensive and the best part, you don't have to thaw before adding them to the risotto!
- Lemon: Both lemon zest and a squeeze of the lemon juice is used to brighten the leek risotto.
- White Wine: Look for a dry white wine, such as Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Blanc.
- Butter and Olive Oil: The olive oil is used to saute the leeks and garlic, but save the butter towards the end of cooking for a creamy finish.
- Parmesan Cheese: If possible, look for a chunk of parmesan that you can grate yourself, which will have great nutty flavor. And the best part, save the rind and it add to bolognese sauce.
See recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
🍋 Substitutions and Variations
- Instead of spinach, add baby kale, chard leaves or even arugula!
- If white wine isn't available just omit it and use the vegetable stock in the recipe.
- For a dairy free version, substitute with vegan butter and omit the parmesan cheese.
Step 1: Slice the leeks and submerge them in a large bowl filled with water to remove any dirt. Then lift them out of the water and pat the leeks dry.
Step 2: In a large and wide pan, saute the leeks and garlic until soft but not browned on medium heat. When done add arborio rice and toss to coat.
Step 3: Pour white wine into risotto and stir until absorbed. Next, add 1-2 ladlefuls of stock, at a time until rice absorbs all of the liquid.
Step 4: Use a wooden spoon to push the rice to the side and when most of the liquid is absorbed, add another 1-2 ladles of stock at a time. Continue for about 22-25 minutes until rice is tender.
Step 5: Once the rice is done, stir in the lemon zest and spinach and gently toss to wilt the spinach.
Step 4: Turn off heat and add 1 tablespoon of butter, peas and another ladle of stock. Stir the risotto with parmesan together until creamy.
Step 5: Ladle the spinach risotto onto plates and garnish with basil, a squeeze of lemon juice and additional grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.
📍 Recipe Tips
- Have some extra stock on hand because you may use all or less of the stock mentioned, depending how much your rice soaks up the liquid.
- After about 20 minutes of cooking, continually taste the rice for doneness.
- As the risotto sits, it will thicken. To loosen, add another ladle of stock and stir over low heat to warm through.
For a light spinach risotto, use a dry white wine, such as a Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio or even a crisp Sauvignon Blanc, which are light and won't overpower the risotto ingredients.
Always use arborio rice, which has a higher starch content and creates a creamier risotto. Another tip is to slowly add in the stock, one cup at a time so the rice has time to absorb the liquid slowly. And for a decadent and cheese risotto, add butter and grated parmesan cheese at the end of cooking.
Unlike other styles of rice, such as basmati rice, Arborio should not be rinsed before cooking. Arborio rice is thick and starchier than other styles of rice and rinsing it can wash some of that starch away.
Perfect risotto should "all'onda" in Italian or "flowing with a wave". Risotto should never be too "gummy" or thick, but when poured onto the plate, should flow nicely and spread evenly.
Recipes to Serve with Spinach Risotto
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Creamy Spinach Risotto with Parmesan
- 2 tablespoons Olive oil
- 2 leeks cleaned and sliced thin
- 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- 1 cup white wine Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio
- 6 cups low-sodium vegetable stock simmering
- ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon Ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 cup fresh spinach
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 tablespoon butter
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese + more for garnish
- Lemon wedges for serving
- Basil leaves roughly torn, for garnish
- To clean the leeks, slice off the root end and slive the white and light green parts into thin strips. Then submerge the sliced leeks in a bowl of water so the dirt settles to the bottom. Lift the leeks from the water and pat them dry before cooking.
- Bring a wide skillet over medium heat and drizzle with olive oil. Add the sliced leeks and saute for 3-5 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and continue sauteing for another minute.
- Add the arborio rice and saute the rice into the oil so all of the grains are lightly coated with the oil.
- Pour the white wine into the risotto and stir until the wine has absorbed. Then stir in 1-2 ladlefuls of stock, at a time and continue stirring until rice absorbs liquid, for about 22-25 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Once rice is tender, stir in lemon zest and spinach and gently toss until spinach is wilted.
- Turn off heat and add 1 tablespoon of butter, the peas and another small ladle of stock and stir to combine. Stir in grated Parmesan cheese and taste for seasoning.
- Ladle spinach risotto onto wide bowls and garnish with fresh basil and a squeeze of lemon juice and additional grating of Parmesan cheese, if desired.
- You may use all or less of the stock mentioned, depending how much your rice soaks up the liquid. After about 20 minutes of cooking, continually taste the rice for doneness.
- As the risotto sits, it will thicken, so loosen, add another ladle of stock and stir over low heat to warmed through.