Creamy, Cheesy, Garlicky Rice with Spinach {FFwD}

OK, let’s get this out of the way right off the bat: this is not risotto. Sure, it’s made with Arborio rice cooked in broth and it has aromatics, butter, cream, and cheese added to it. But it’s not risotto.

What makes it “not risotto” is the fact that the rice is put on the stove with all the broth added to it and allowed to cook, unattended, until the broth has mostly absorbed and the rice is tender. Risotto, by contrast, is made by adding the broth a little at a time and cooking until it is absorbed before adding more.

Dorie Greenspan goes to great lengths in Around My French Table to explain that this is not risotto. And I suppose that’s why she gave the recipe such a long, descriptive, non-risotto name. Personally, I would’ve just called it Creamy Rice. Whatever it’s called, it was this week’s recipe for French Fridays with Dorie.

Because you don’t have to attend to the rice while it cooks, this recipe comes together pretty quickly. After putting the rice on the stove, I cooked some spinach with a little salt, until it wilted and lost most of its volume.

While the spinach cooled, I sautéed onions and garlic in butter.

Then it was just a matter of stirring the rice and spinach into the onion mixture and adding cheese and cream.

I served the creamy rice with turkey sausage for a simple, delicious dinner. Risotto purists might object to the texture of the rice, which was more gooey than risotto should be. But no one would complain about the flavor. The garlic and spinach complimented each other well and were the predominate flavors in the dish.

Why the French make their not-risotto this way, well, I suppose only the French know. But one thing I know is that, while it won’t replace traditional risotto in my kitchen, this is a dish that will make repeated appearances on my French table.

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36 Comments

  1. September 18, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    […] that the dish would look to blah on the plate. In fact, I was originally going to serve it with creamy rice, but I realized it would be a  nearly monochromatic meal. So I dressed the dish up with a few […]

  2. Kathy said,

    September 13, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    Your rice looks delicious…I agree it is not traditional risotto but it was so creamy and very good!

    • gaaarp said,

      September 13, 2011 at 7:30 pm

      Thanks. It was really good. And it’s given me the courage to try “risotto” in the rice cooker.

  3. September 13, 2011 at 8:39 am

    Yes – the gooey texture definitely threw me off – I love real risotto so much. I have to agree that the end result was pretty tasty.

    • gaaarp said,

      September 13, 2011 at 7:29 pm

      I couldn’t think of another word to better describe the texture. Real risotto is creamier with separate grains of rice. This was tasty but gooey.

  4. Teresa said,

    September 10, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    This is such a good dish – Dorie needn’t apologize that it’s not risotto, it can stand on its own! Turkey sausage sounds like a great side for this dish.

    • gaaarp said,

      September 10, 2011 at 4:55 pm

      It was such a delicious, simple dinner. Just the kind I like!

  5. Tasty Mayhem said,

    September 10, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    This might be an odd comment, but the photo of your cooked spinach looks really good. Beautiful green color. Next time I may try cooking the spinach separately.

    • gaaarp said,

      September 10, 2011 at 4:54 pm

      Thanks! The spinach was actually my favorite part of the dish. The flavor really came through in the finished dish.

  6. dulceshome said,

    September 10, 2011 at 11:14 am

    We had this dish with some fresh tomato bruschetta on the side. It was a hit. Thought about adding a splash of wine, but didn’t get that far. For those of us who are risotto-challenged, it’s a nice recipe. Glad to know that you are not! :).

    • gaaarp said,

      September 10, 2011 at 4:53 pm

      Risotto isn’t hard to make. It requires more skill than patience. I’m sure you could do it if you tried!

  7. Alice said,

    September 10, 2011 at 8:16 am

    It’s hard not to try and make this like risotto huh? But it DOES cook up faster than traditional risotto… I missed putting wine in, I got my wine all ready to go and everything! So I just had a glass with dinner instead…. LOL!

    • gaaarp said,

      September 10, 2011 at 4:52 pm

      I think a little wine stirred in near the end might be just the thing next time. Of course, drinking it is always an option, too!

  8. sanyaliving said,

    September 10, 2011 at 5:52 am

    It really did taste pretty good!
    Great photos!

  9. betsy said,

    September 9, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    It might not be risotto, but it was delicious. I really liked how easy it was to make. This will make a great dinner as the weather cools down.

    • gaaarp said,

      September 9, 2011 at 10:15 pm

      Next time, I’ll serve it as a main dish with French bread.

  10. Karen said,

    September 9, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    It might not quite be risotto, but I enjoyed it as much as risotto! You are right about the texture being a little different (more gooey is a good way to put it), but the flavor is wonderful.

    • gaaarp said,

      September 9, 2011 at 10:14 pm

      Easily the best “not risotto” I’ve ever tasted!

  11. September 9, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    Beautiful ‘not-risotto’ you’ve got there! 🙂

  12. Elin said,

    September 9, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    I didn’t cook until the spinach wilted. Just lightly cook them and added them in so that they still looks green. I prefer my veggie not over cooked 🙂 and I baked the cheesy rice in peppers…it was excellent taste wise. Love it and shall cooked them again , this time I will use pasta instead of rice 🙂

    • gaaarp said,

      September 9, 2011 at 10:13 pm

      I wonder how it would be with pasta? A totally different recipe, I would think.

  13. September 9, 2011 at 11:03 am

    We enjoyed this one as well, but I think that Dorie was right to set expectations up front and say that this is not a risotto. If I had been expecting risotto, I probably would not have like it. But since I was expecting creamy cheesy rice, I thought it was quite tasty.

    • gaaarp said,

      September 9, 2011 at 11:07 am

      Since it’s not cooked like risotto, I wouldn’t have been expecting it to be like risotto. But since she went to such pains to explain that it wasn’t risotto, I couldn’t help but compare it to risotto.

  14. Eileen said,

    September 9, 2011 at 10:25 am

    I agree-this is definitely NOT a risotto, but it sure does taste good!

    • gaaarp said,

      September 9, 2011 at 10:27 am

      I think she shouldn’t have even mentioned risotto in the intro to the recipe. Just call it Creamy Rice and get on with it!

  15. September 9, 2011 at 10:02 am

    I think this is going to have to be my dinner tonight. Yours looks delicious!

    • gaaarp said,

      September 9, 2011 at 10:07 am

      We ate it as a side dish, but I would have been happy enjoying it as a main dish.

  16. September 9, 2011 at 9:45 am

    It won’t replace the traditional risotto in my kitchen either! It’s a good recipe if you are short in time, but I love traditional risotto.

    Happy French Friday!

    • gaaarp said,

      September 9, 2011 at 10:12 pm

      It’s definitely less labor intensive than traditional risott. A nice recipe to have at hand.

  17. Cher said,

    September 9, 2011 at 8:46 am

    Go figure… When I saw that it used arborio, I cooked it “a la risotto” method anyway. I guess old habits die hard 🙂
    I loved how Dorie did her very best to make sure people knew that she was not claiming this was risotto.

    • gaaarp said,

      September 9, 2011 at 8:47 am

      Methinks the lady doth protest too much!

  18. Kayte said,

    September 9, 2011 at 8:10 am

    Looks great…I am a little nervous about cooking the spinach down that much, but the end product looks tasty. I was thinking of only just wilting my spinach as we prefer it that way, decisions, decisions. Love your explanation of the not-risotto and why the French do or do not do things the way they do…if you could figure that out, your aid would be priceless in world relations. lol

    • gaaarp said,

      September 9, 2011 at 8:32 am

      I think you could leave the spinach unwilted, as long as you chop it up finely.


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