Healthier Creamy Tomato Spinach Risotto
I loooove risotto.
I love making risotto, I love eating risotto, and I love talking about how much I love making and eating risotto. I love everything. About. Risotto.
One of risotto’s many virtues is how easy it is to make, yet how fancy it pretends to be. The hardest thing about it is not getting bored while you sit there stirring it constantly. It’s perfect for the holidays just for that reason, because you can make it for a bunch of guests and pretend you’re a super fancy chef. For best results, serve your risotto to your guests with a slightly affected tone: “Our next cooourse is going to be a rather SCRUMPTIOUS rrrrrisOo0o0oHto with a touch of young spinach and pah-meZZAHN. I would NEVER have time to make this nooooormally, you see, I simply spent HOURS over the stove and NEARLY broke into a sweat, but FOR YOU my dahlings, I WILL stand and LITCH-RALLY watch liquid evaporate! Hah hah, we are having SUCH FUN, aren’t we?!”
Okay, so maybe don’t really do that if you’d like your friends to stay long enough to eat your risotto. And definitely don’t reveal to your guests that you basically just made them high-maintenance rice. But DO consider making this recipe for your next party, especially if you have guests who are trying to be more carb-conscious. Hey, even if you make risotto with the best all-natural ingredients, it is naturally going to be high in carbs. I <3 carbs, but I willingly acknowledge that they have their place, and aren’t ideal for everyone’s healthy lifestyle. I’ve been meaning to come up with a lower-carb risotto recipe for a while, and finally, I found my excuse.
Our challenge over at The Recipe Redux this month was, in celebration of their 54-month birthday, to find the nearest cookbook and “healthify” the recipe on page 54 or 154. I’ll admit, I rummaged through my cookbook collection (and my parents’) for a while before I found a recipe worthy of being “healthified.” Most were actually pretty healthy to begin with! But then, I stumbled across The New Basics Cookbook, where I found a recipe for “Cream of Tomato Risotto,” and I knew I’d found my project.
The changes I made were quite simple. I swapped half of the rice for red quinoa to make it higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates, made it vegetarian by using vegetable stock instead of a meat-based stock, and bulked it up with some baby spinach. The quinoa adapts to the texture of risotto really really nicely, and having just a little bit of arborio rice in there ensures that it doesn’t lose its traditional feel. I chose red quinoa, because I find its texture chewier and its taste nuttier and more complex than white quinoa’s, but if a uniform look is what you’re after, white quinoa should cook similarly.
Enjoy, and don’t forget to put on some great music while you wait for all that liquid to evaporate! 😛
- 1.5 tbs. olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1/2 cup arborio rice
- 1/2 cup + 2 tbs. red (or white) quinoa
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 2 large sprigs rosemary leaves, minced
- 1 cup crushed San Marzano tomatoes
- 4 cups baby spinach leaves, chopped
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Heat olive oil in a large, deep skillet over low heat. Add garlic and let it sweat while you prepare the onion.
- Add chopped onion, stir, and cook until soft (about 3 minutes).
- Add rice and quinoa to pan and cook for another 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
- In a separate pot, bring vegetable stock to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.
- Add 1 cup of the boiling stock to the rice. Stir frequently, making sure no quinoa or rice is stuck to the side of the pot or the spoon (this could lead to uncooked crunchy bits later - ick).
- Once the liquid is almost completely absorbed, continue adding stock this way in 1/2 cup increments.
- Once you have about 1/2 cup of stock left, add the rosemary and tomatoes. Once the tomato juice cooks off a bit, add the rest of the stock.
- Once the stock has cooked off, stir in parmesan and add salt and pepper to taste.