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Prawn and spinach risotto with tomato pesto oil

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  • High in protein
  • No added sugar
  • Sesame free
  • Peanut free

Loaded with baby spinach and tasty prawns, this seafood risotto is the perfect meal to make this weekend. Drizzled with tomato pesto and sprinkled with crispy breadcrumbs, it’s a flavour sensation.

  • Serves6
  • Cook time40 minutes
  • Prep time15 minutes
Prawn and spinach risotto with tomato pesto oil


  • 1/3 cup (80ml) olive oil
  • 1kg Coles Thawed Australian MSC Banana Prawns, peeled, deveined, shells reserved
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1/3 cup (25g) panko breadcrumbs
  • 40g butter
  • 1 brown onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 1/3 cups (265g) arborio rice
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) dry white wine or vegetable stock
  • 60g pkt Coles Australian Baby Spinach
  • 1 cup (80g) grated parmesan
  • 2 tbs tomato pesto

Check ingredient labels to make sure they meet your specific dietary requirements and always consult a health professional before changing your diet. View dietary information here.

Percentage Daily Intake information on our recipes is calculated using the nutrition reference values for an average Australian adult.


  1. Step 1

    Heat 2 tsp oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Add the prawn shells and cook, stirring, for 2 mins or until prawn shells change colour. Add bay leaves and 6 cups (1.5L) water. Increase heat to high and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium. Simmer for 15 mins. Strain through a fine sieve and discard the solids. Place the mixture in a saucepan over low heat.
  2. Step 2

    Meanwhile, heat 1 tbs oil in a small frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the breadcrumbs and cook, stirring, for 2 mins or until golden brown.
  3. Step 3

    Heat the butter and 1 tbs oil in a large deep heavy-based frying pan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring, for 2 mins or until onion softens. Add the rice. Cook, stirring, for 3 mins or until well combined. Add the wine or vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Cook, stirring, for 2 mins or until liquid is absorbed.
  4. Step 4

    Reduce heat to medium-low. Add 1/2 cup (125ml) hot prawn stock and cook, stirring constantly, until liquid is completely absorbed. Repeat with the remaining stock, stirring constantly and allowing liquid to be absorbed before adding more, until the rice is tender yet firm to the bite and risotto is creamy (this should take about 20 mins). Add prawns and cook, stirring, for 2 mins or until the prawns curl and change colour. Stir in spinach and half the parmesan.
  5. Step 5

    Combine pesto with the remaining oil in a small jug.
  6. Step 6

    Divide risotto among serving bowls. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and remaining parmesan. Drizzle with pesto mixture.

    Serve with flat-leaf parsley leaves

Seafood risotto recipe

A firm favourite on restaurant menus and family dinner tables, risotto is an Italian rice dish that originated in the north of Italy. The rice most often used to make risotto is arborio, a medium-grain rice that has a higher starch content than white rice. The rice grains absorb the flavours of the liquid they are cooked in and release starch as they cook, which helps create the famous creamy risotto texture. This means that you should never rinse the rice for risotto like you would for other global rice dishes. 

There are so many ways to make risotto with different vegetables and meats, but seafood risotto is a popular choice for entertaining. Seafood risottos can be made with one type of seafood such as fish, salmon, crab or crayfish, or a combination of seafood, marinara style. Some chefs colour their seafood risottos with squid ink for an eye-catching look. We think prawns are the perfect choice for a crowd-pleasing and great-tasting seafood risotto.

The best way boost the flavour of your seafood risotto

Here’s why you should choose whole prawns for your seafood risotto and peel them yourself, leaving the tails intact. Make sure you save the shells when peeling, because you can use them to flavour the stock for your risotto. This is the best way to get seafood flavour all the way through the dish.

The stock for risotto should be hot before you start adding it to the rice so it absorbs easily. Adding cold stock cools the rice down and stops it cooking evenly, which can give you a gluey risotto. Heating the stock is also a good opportunity to infuse it with extra flavour and anything you add to the stock can be strained out before you use it. If you were making a vegetable risotto, you could add veggie scraps to the stock to boost the flavour – for example, using woody asparagus stems to flavour the stock for an asparagus risotto.

To make your prawn stock, fry the raw prawn shells in a little oil until they change colour, then add water and bay leaves and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, then strain and discard the solids. Put the strained stock back into a saucepan over a gentle heat to keep it hot for making the risotto. 

How to cook your seafood risotto perfectly

You’ll notice that many risotto recipes, not just seafood risottos, begin with the same basic combination of onion, garlic, rice and white wine. You start by softening the onion and garlic in olive oil – we’ve added butter for extra flavour. Then add the rice and cook for a few minutes. When you see the grains start to look glassy it means the outer layer of the rice has softened, which is important to allow the starch to release easily from the rice. Next add the wine if you’re using it and stir until it’s absorbed into the rice.

At this point you can turn down the heat and start adding hot stock to the rice mixture. Do this in small amounts, a ladleful at a time, and stir until the liquid is absorbed into the rice. Don’t rush this process – it takes time for the rice to cook properly and become creamy. After about 20 minutes, test the rice to check if it’s cooked through – it should be tender but still a little firm to the bite, similar to al dente pasta.

Seafood cooks quickly, so only add it to your risotto once the rice is cooked. Once you add the prawns to this risotto, you only need to stir for another 2 minutes, then turn off the heat to avoid overcooking them. The risotto will still be hot enough to wilt the baby spinach and melt the parmesan.

How to make seafood risotto extra special

You could serve this seafood risotto without any extras and it would still be delicious, but here are some easy ways to dress it up for a dinner party. Quickly frying panko breadcrumbs in a little olive oil creates a crispy breadcrumb topping to add a contrasting texture to the creaminess of the risotto. The punchy pesto oil is as simple as mixing bought tomato pesto with olive oil to give it the right consistency for drizzling over the dish before just serving.

Now get cooking

Whether you’re new to making risotto or a risotto aficionado, this seafood risotto recipe is a great addition to your collection. Want more risotto inspiration? This waste-wise chicken and mushroom risotto uses onion skins and parmesan rinds to flavour the stock. For a lazy risotto with barely any stirring, try our quick chicken risotto with only 4 ingredients. For a 5-ingredient vegetable risotto, our easy spinach and pea risotto is your go-to. For more 5-ingredient dinners, head to our What’s for dinner? collection

Why not make a comforting dessert with your leftover risotto rice, such as our cherry and coconut rice pudding. To find out how to turn leftover risotto into arancini, see our mushroom arancini recipe.

Nutrition Information

Per Serve

Energy: 2054kJ/491 Cals (24%)

Protein: 27g (54%)

Fat: 25g (36%)

Sat fat: 10g (42%)

Carb: 39g (13%)

Sugar: 2g (2%)

Fibre: 1g (3%)

Sodium: 551mg (28%)