SAFFRON SPINACH RISOTTO
Ready in 45 mins Serves 3 as a main or 6 as a side
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1½ cups risotto rice ½ cup white wine
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
25-30 saffron threads
5-6 cups hot chicken or vegetable stock
4 handfuls baby spinach
1 cup grated parmesan
1-2 Tbsp butter
Heat oil in a deep, heavy-based pot and gently fry onion and garlic until soft but not browned (about 5 minutes). Add rice and stir over heat for 2 minutes to lightly toast. Add wine, salt and pepper and cook a further 2 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed. Add saffron threads to 5 cups hot stock, then add to rice mixture. Stir to combine, cover and simmer over a very low heat until almost cooked (about 15 minutes). At this point, test the rice. If it has only a tiny, hard, white core in the centre of each grain, it is nearly ready. If the core is bigger, cook another few minutes. It needs to be almost cooked before you add the final ingredients. If the rice begins to dry out, add another ½-1 cup of hot stock or water — it should look very soupy. Stir in the spinach, parmesan and butter, cover and cook another 2-3 minutes until the rice is fully cooked through but still al dente (it will continue to cook once removed from the heat, so take care not to overcook it). Remove from heat and allow to stand for 2-3 minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste and serve.
This recipe is a perfect example of my Essential cookbook philosophy, where once you know a recipe method you can substitute different ingredients and flavours. Try it with roasted cauliflower instead of spinach, or leave out the saffron and cook 300g mushrooms with the onion.