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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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%)