by Sandy Johnson
I crave creamed spinach. Rich, rich, rich, but I always justify it because spinach is an iron-clad superfood. Unfortunately, I’ve been cursed in the garden with spinach. After failing two years in a row to bring a spinach crop to harvest – dang bugs! – I called a truce and moved on to other vegetables.
Thank goodness for our farmers market vendor whose abundant baby spinach makes up for my shortcomings. I blend his spinach with our own greens for salads through the growing season.
I also love risotto; my family, not so much. So when CRR recently flew off to Yellowstone for work (tough assignment), it was an opportunity to cook up a single serving of risotto. Risotto is my ritual when the boys are away. Follows is a spinach version, though I have also made it with grated tomato pulp, assorted dried mushrooms with thyme, or three herbs (your choice). Risotto is a blank palate for whatever is in your fridge or pantry. This recipe mimics creamed spinach with the creaminess of the risotto and the hint of nutmeg.
Spinach Risotto for One
2 cups chicken or veg broth (or one 15 oz can)
One small shallot, minced
Heaping one-third cup Arborio rice
Big handful of spinach, julienned
Generous grating of nutmeg
Heat the broth to a simmer. Saute the shallot in one tablespoon olive oil until transparent. Add the rice and stir for a minute. Then add a third cup of broth and stir, stir, stir. It is the constant attention that gives risotto its creaminess. I follow Emeril Agassi’s advice to cook at (slightly under) medium heat for 21 minutes. As the rice simmers, the bubbles will start to look dry. That means it’s time to add another third cup of broth. Continue until the rice is al dente. With the last broth, add the spinach and nutmeg. Add pepper and top with grated parmesan. Salt if needed but the broth may have provided enough.
This part is important for the solo diner. Put the risotto into one of your prettiest bowls. Pour a glass of white wine. Sit at the dining room table and savor each bite.
Sandy Johnson is a journalist and a gardener, equally passionate about both. She lives in Alexandria, VA. Visit her on her blog, Grassroots & Gardening.