French Fridays with Dorie: creamy, cheesy, garlicky rice with spinach
Initially, I was a little wary of this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe. The weather lately had been typical late summer weather, hot and sunny and a little humid, and we’ve been eating mostly salads and fresh vegetables and grilled stuff. Creamy, cheesy, garlicky rice with spinach, while it sounded good, just didn’t match the weather. Then, on Tuesday, a bout of raw heavy rain set in for three days. Suddenly, this hearty risotto-like dish was the perfect thing. Funny how that happens sometimes.
In her book, Dorie describes this rice dish as similar to risotto, though not exactly, but delicious in its own right, just not risotto. This put some preconceptions in my mind. An initial scan of the recipe left me with the impression it was a bit involved.
I’m not the best planner (if my sisters Jane or Jennifer are reading this, yes, you can laugh – in fact, you probably think that’s an understatement), though I always seem to get most everything that needs doing done. I skipped the chance to make it over the weekend (see note about weather above), so this would have to be part of a weeknight dinner. Sigh! I guess it would be part of a late dinner…
I was in for some pleasant surprises. First step was to cook the rice. I’ve only used Arborio rice in risotto or paella, both of which involve lots of time stirring. I’ve never “just cooked it”. I was initially skeptical about the liquid to rice ratio. It was over 3:1, much higher than what I use when cooking long-grain rice. I stirred the rice into boiling chicken broth and let it simmer. Dorie didn’t specify how long it would take, so I set the timer for 20 minutes, the usual for long-grain white rice, and waited to see what happened.
In the meantime, I cooked the spinach. I bought a bag of baby spinach because it wouldn’t need stemming, just washing. The bag was large, about 12 ounces, slightly more than the called for 10, but I just used it all because I knew the spinach would shrink down. I cooked the spinach in my largest pot which was full to start. After about 5 minutes, the spinach barely covered the bottom with a thin layer. Amazes me every single time I cook greens. I squeezed out the liquid and gave it a chop.
Then, I sautéed some onion and garlic in butter until tender. At this point, it was time to check the rice. The rice had absorbed quite a bit of the chicken broth, but it seemed like there was still a lot in the bottom of the pot. I set the timer for 5 more minutes and grated the Gruyere cheese. Much to my surprise, those 5 minutes were all it took. Rice was tender and the broth completely absorbed. 25 minutes in total to cook the rice.
Turns out that I was almost done. I stirred the moist rice and my handful of chopped spinach into the pot to combine. Then I added some cream and grated cheese and salt and pepper. I gave it a good stir to mix it all up. Voila! Only 40 minutes from time I put the chicken broth on to boil. Not bad for a weeknight meal.
I served this alongside some grilled fish, though it could easily have been a meal by itself. Perfectly named, creamy, cheesy, garlicky rice with spinach was another September winner!
I followed this one exactly this time, but there are always some clever variations from the other Doristas. You can check out their versions of this recipe at French Fridays with Dorie. If you’re interested in the recipe, you’ll have to buy the book, Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table. But then, you can cook along every week, or as often as you like!
Special note: It turns out that according to WordPress, this is the 200th post on A Plateful of Happiness. Seems like a noteworthy number. I’ve been doing this for not quite two years now, and 4 of those posts were guest posts by various family and friends, but still, that’s a lot of writing, and cooking, for someone who spends her days in front of a computer writing code.