Thursday, February 17, 2011

Lemon shrimp risotto with leeks and spinach

Aha! Instead of trying to take pictures of finished meals after dark, I snapped this picture of my main ingredients at lunchtime today, when there was at least a modicum of daylight.

Risottos can be a challenge to make. They sound daunting, what with the don't-stop-stirring-for-an-instant instructions (honestly? ignore these instructions – risottos do not need to be tended so carefully), and feel daunting, with their it-took-forever but-tastes-blah record.

Here's the solution: a perfect, warming, citrusy and deeply flavorful lemon-shrimp-leek-spinach risotto.

It still does take a fair amount of time, much of which is prep. But it is a laid-back approach to risotto, and one which brings the best of winter flavours to the table. It is adapted from The Year in Food, which is my newest favorite food blog (her photography is magnificent; I console myself with the thought that she lives in California, where the sun always shines, while I live in what could charitably be termed northern Europe, where... well, we've had three days of sun since the New Year). I was originally led to try this in part because the ingredients overlap so well with my standard white bean dish, allowing me to simplify grocery shopping for the week – an important task with our fog, blowing snow and 40 mile an hour winds. But the result is much more than just a convenience: it is a beautiful meal, and one I will return to often.

What you need (two servings; to increase number of servings to four, simply double the recipe):
  • up to 2 cups homemade vegetable stock
  • a dollop of olive oil
  • a tablespoon or two of butter
  • 1 leek, white part only, chopped
  • 8 large shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • 2-4 cups spinach (or baby spinach), to taste
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • zest of half a lemon
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • heaping cup arborio rice

What you do:
  • Before beginning to cook, make sure that all of your ingredients are prepped as above (that is, chop the leek, peel and devein the shrimp, grate the cheese, zest and squeeze the lemon, and rinse the arborio). Also, bring your vegetable stock to a near boil.
  • In a small saucepan, heat the butter. At the same time, heat the olive oil in a skillet.
  • Cook the shrimp in the butter until just done, and remove promptly, preserving the buttery juices.
  • Sauté the leeks in the olive oil until soft. Then add the rice, and stir for a few moments. Don't let it burn, but get the rice good and hot.
  • Add the wine and let simmer until nearly fully absorbed by the rice.
  • Add the stock to the rice one ladleful of the time, allowing each ladle to be nearly fully absorbed before continuing. Stir after adding each ladleful, but don't get het up about stirring constantly. I managed to get a good deal of quilting done while the risotto was cooking. Also, add the buttery juices from the shrimp – their flavor is not something you want to pour down the drain. While this is happening, chop the cooked shrimp in halves (or thirds, if big).
  • Once the rice is fully cooked, toss in the spinach. Now you will have to stir, and vigorously, to get the spinach to wilt. This is the terrific thing about spinach: when you heat it, it wilts down to almost nothing. I put four cups of spinach into my risotto with no trouble, and could have continued had I not been quite hungry.
  • Remove the risotto from the heat and stir in shrimp, Parmesan, lemon zest and lemon juice.


Steven said...

Has potential. I used a bit too much lemon and added too much broth, which tends to give a glue-like consistency to the rice. My 2nd attempt should improve!

Kimberley said...

You just put a huge smile on my face! You'll probably laugh, but 1) I wish for more cloudy days because the light is better for photography; 2) In San Francisco, it's cold and foggy all summer. So while everyone else is in a swimsuit, we're bundled in scarves and coats. Anyhow, I love the addition of shrimp! It's perfect.

Janet M-N said...

So much for my impression of California. :) How do you get your lovely, crisp, bright photos, then? I thought the secret ingredient was sunlight -- at least, it was a good excuse here. I especially love the cleanness of your February seasonal food photos.