You know those nights when you just want to get dinner on the table in a hurry? This recipe is not for one of those nights. Save it for an evening when you can put on some music and focus on the process of creating a great meal. There are plenty of little prep jobs so, if you have someone you like to cook with, bring them in the kitchen with you. Otherwise, crank up the volume and enjoy yourself.
I’ve been wanting to make this lemon parmesan risotto with shrimp ever since my bff and I had something similar at a restaurant in Vancouver, WA. (Kelly, if you remember the restaurant let me know. I’m sure you remember the meal because it was lemony cheesy deliciousness.) I think I did it justice here and the addition of the sautéed spinach with bacon really balanced out the flavors. The lemon is prominent so keep that in mind and cut the amount of juice and zest in half if you want a more subtle flavor.
I’m pretty sure the shrimp at the restaurant was blackened, cajun style, which you could certainly do. I used Old Bay seasoning since I didn’t want it too spicy for my girls. It always reminds me of my friend, Teresa, who I worked with years ago in Chicago. She’s from Maryland and crab with Old Bay seasoning is like a religion for her. She talked about it a lot and with strong feelings. Now, I always have it on hand in case she ever comes to Oregon and looks in my spice cabinet. If you don’t have cajun spices or Old Bay, any seafood seasoning blend or even just salt and pepper will work on the shrimp.
The key to cooking a meal like this is preparation. Confidence and patience help as well. Of course, that’s true of most things in life. Be sure and read the instructions all the way through before you begin, as is always a good idea with a new recipe. That said, none of it is difficult. You’ve got this.
Shrimp with Lemon Parmesan Risotto and Sautéed Spinach
2 pounds jumbo or extra large shrimp, fresh or frozen
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon of seasoning such as Old Bay or cajun spices
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic, grated or minced
1 cup white wine (something you would drink on a weeknight)
1 lemon, zested and juiced
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock/broth, warm
3/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
salt and black or white pepper to taste
6 – 8 cups baby spinach
1/2 cup bacon bits/pieces, cooked
a couple dashes of salt and pepper
Peel and devein thawed or fresh shrimp. I leave the tail on, but do what you want there. If you need further instruction, here is a helpful video: https://www.wikihow.com/Peel-and-Devein-Shrimp
Toss the shrimp with your choice of seasoning, lemon juice, and olive oil. Set aside/refrigerate while you prepare the risotto.
Gather all of the ingredient for the risotto as well as the spinach and bacon.
Zest and juice the lemon, set aside.
Melt butter on low heat in a saucepan.
Mince the onion, about half of a medium sized onion should yield one-half cup.
Add the onion to the melted butter. Increase heat to medium and sauté, stirring often until the onion is translucent.
Add the rice and sauté, stirring often, until some of the the rice begins to turn light brown.
Make sure the wine, warmed stock/broth, lemon juice and zest, and parmesan are within reach. Add the cup of wine to the rice and allow it to cook, stirring often and keeping your attention on it, until the liquid reduces and is absorbed by the rice, as shown below.
Repeat this process with the stock/broth, one cup at a time, each time reducing the liquid until it is absorbed by the rice.
It should become increasingly creamy after each addition and may look like it’s done after a couple cups of liquid, but a quick taste test will let you know the rice is still gritty and you need to keep going. Be patient and keep stirring.
Note: The whole process could take 30 – 45 minutes. I’ve seen other recipes that say it should only 20 minutes and not be so creamy. I like it creamy. If you would like it more on the al dente side, turn up the heat a little and cook it faster.
Add the lemon juice and zest after the last cup of broth/stock has been added. Allow it to cook down then add the parmesan cheese. Taste it and add salt and pepper as needed. If needed, turn the heat down low and allow it to thicken. If it’s the desired consistency, turn the burner off and cover it to keep warm while you cook the shrimp and spinach.
PREPARE SAUTEED SPINACH
Preheat large skillet or sauté pan on the stove on medium-high heat.
Roughly chop the baby spinach
Add olive oil to the pan and allow it to get hot. Add the shrimp to the pan and cook for about 2 minutes on each side, they should be pink all the way through. Place the cooked shrimp in a separate dish and cover with foil to keep warm.
Note: Make sure you don’t crowd the pan with the shrimp. If it’s too small to give them some space, cook half at a time.
Add the bacon, then the spinach to the hot pan and sauté until the spinach begins to cook down. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl.
Place the shrimp over a scoop of risotto and serve the sautéed spinach alongside. Garnish with more parmesan and lemon wedges if you like.
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