Monday, April 18, 2011

Spinach and Goat Cheese Baked Risotto

I think most people when they think of risotto (and that's if they think of it at all...) would consider it a "restaurant food."  I know that I always loved to order the creamy rice dish (preferably with lots of shrimp and scallops in it) when I'm eating at Italian restaurants that are not the Olive Garden (nothing against the OG and its amazing salad and breadsticks, I just can't remember it ever being on the menu...).  I guess risotto is intimidating because it's supposed to be so hands on in its preparation (read: constant stirring for long periods of time).  Enter: baked risotto.  All of the yummy, creamy, heart-warming goodness and none of the arm-cramp-inducing stirring.  And, when you add garlicky, sauteed spinach and tangy goat cheese to the mix, you end up with something glorious.  Thank you to Martha Stewart and Jamie Oliver for your recipes, when I married them together, they made quite a delicious baby!

Spinach and Goat Cheese Baked Risotto
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided (plus more for serving)
4 tablespoons butter, divided
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
3/4 cup Arborio rice
1/4 cup dry white wine (optional)
2-2 1/4 cups hot water
1/2 cup homemade or low sodium canned chicken stock
kosher salt and pepper
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
5 1/2 oz fresh spinach, washed and dried
ground nutmeg, preferably fresh
a big handful or two of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 lemon, zest removed and reserved
7 oz. soft goat's cheese, crumbled 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large skillet, heat one tablespoon each of oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring to coat the grains with oil, about 1 minute. Stir in the wine and cook until it has completely evaporated, about 1 minute. Stir in 1 1/2 cups water, the stock, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil.  Pour rice mixture into an ovenproof baking dish and cover.  Transfer to the oven, and bake, covered, until most of the liquid has been absorbed by the rice, 20 to 25 minutes. 

Meanwhile, place an additional tablespoon each of olive oil and butter along with garlic in a large skillet over medium heat.  When butter is melted, add spinach.  Cook, stirring constantly, until spinach is wilted down.  Season with salt, pepper and grated nutmeg to taste.  Chop finely or blend up in a food processor.  Cover and set aside to keep warm.
When rice is cooked through, remove from oven and stir in spinach mixture, 2 additional tablespoons butter, a good squeeze of lemon juice, Parmesan and half of the goat cheese.  Stir until butter and goat cheese is melted and rice is creamy.  Season with additional salt and pepper to taste, if needed.  Spoon into bowls and top with additional crumbled goat cheese, a sprinkle of lemon zest and a drizzle of olive oil.  Serve immediately as a main dish or hearty side.  

Recipe adapted from: Martha Stewart's Oven-Baked Risotto and Jamie Oliver's Spinach and Goat Cheese Risotto from Cook with Jamie

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