On my first visit to Rome, I stumbled across a small trattoria near Campo De Fiori whose kitchen emitted wonderful aromas — a sure sign that the food would be delicious. I ordered a risotto verde, never having had one before and out came a mound of rice in a mélange of beautiful green shades. At home I immediately tried to recreate what I had eaten in Rome.

Even rice has a shelf life. Buy quality rice for risotto with an expiration date on the bag or box.–Lora Zarubin

A white bowl filled with spinach and arugula risotto on a grey linen napkin.

Spinach and Arugula Risotto

5 from 1 vote
This spinach and arugula risotto, is creamy and rich yet still with some measure of healthfulness given its abundance of greens. Straight from Rome.
David Leite
Servings4 servings
Calories597 kcal
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Total Time1 hour


  • 6 cups baby spinach or spinach leaves, firmly packed with stems removed
  • 3 cups baby arugula or arugula leaves, firmly packed
  • 1 cup lightly packed flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped
  • 4 1/2 to 5 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 shallots, finely minced (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 1/4 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or more to tastea
  • 1/2 cup freshly shelled peas, chilled in ice water
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground red pepper, (optional)
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  • If using baby spinach and arugula, rinse in colander. If using bunched spinach and arugula, soak the spinach and arugula leaves separately in a bowl of cold water for 30 minutes to let the grit and sand settle.
  • Heat a 10- to 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Toss in the spinach, with water from rinsing still on the leaves. Cook, stirring, until wilted, several minutes. Place the spinach in a colander and drain well. Then finely chop it.
  • Drain the arugula leaves and roughly chop it.
  • Place the stock in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Skim off any scum that rises to the surface.
  • In a 6-quart non-reactive saucepan, heat the olive oil and butter until the butter melts. Add the shallots and garlic and stir over low heat for 2 minutes. Add the rice and continue to stir until the rice is translucent, about 1 minute.
  • Add the wine and cook over medium heat until all the liquid has been absorbed. Then stir in 1 teaspoon salt.
  • Using a ladle, add 1/2 to 1 cup warm stock and stir frequently after each addition until the stock has been almost completely absorbed. Repeat until almost all the stock has been absorbed and the rice is al dente, 27 to 32 minutes. You may only need 4 1/2 cups stock.
  • Stir in the chopped spinach, chopped arugula, chopped parsley, and peas. Cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in the heavy cream and 1/2 cup of the Parmigiano. Taste and season with the red pepper and add salt and black pepper..
  • Serve immediately, passing the remaining Parmigiano separately. Originally published June 2, 2003.
I Am Almost Always Hungry by Lora Zarubin

Adapted From

I Am Almost Always Hungry

Buy On Amazon


Serving: 1 portionCalories: 597 kcalCarbohydrates: 64 gProtein: 17 gFat: 26 gSaturated Fat: 11 gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2 gMonounsaturated Fat: 12 gTrans Fat: 0.1 gCholesterol: 41 mgSodium: 2098 mgPotassium: 607 mgFiber: 5 gSugar: 6 gVitamin A: 7043 IUVitamin C: 43 mgCalcium: 414 mgIron: 6 mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2003 Lora Zarubin. Photo © 2003 Asya. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

My husband was suspicious of all the green and admitted that even though it was green it was very good. He especially enjoyed the creaminess from the cream.

Given the ingredients I used, I didn’t have high hopes for this recipe. Instead of white wine I used white zinfandel and instead of homemade stock used “better than bouillon. Despite this, we enjoyed a very nice dinner.

We had the leftovers tonight and it was still good, although the texture wasn’t quite as nice.

I used about 6 ounces spinach (1 bag of baby spinach and then the rest supplemented from the garden) and about 3 ounces arugula (1/2 a bag of baby arugula).

To save dishes, you could cook the spinach in the pan you cook the risotto in.

From start to finish it took about 50 minutes to make the risotto. Between stirring I had time to do other things, like grate the cheese.

What a lovely risotto for summer! I was skeptical at first – I thought with all the greens it would be too earthy tasting, but I was wrong. It was bright and fresh and creamy and absolutely delicious. I served it as a side dish with some grilled steak and it was a wonderful summer dinner.

I used Astoria prosecco. That’s what we were drinking and it was lovely! The bubbles didn’t affect the dish.

The prep took longer than I expected with all the washing of the spinach and arugula and then steaming the spinach first, draining it, and chopping it. I used baby spinach and arugula so I didn’t soak it but I did give it a few rinses. There’s no need to use a different skillet to wilt the spinach. You can easily wilt the spinach in the pan you’re going to use for the risotto.

I didn’t add any additional salt; I did add some black pepper. I served mine as a side dish with some steak and loved it.

This is a great meal if you’re in the mood for risotto but want to add a (somewhat) healthy edge. The mix of spinach, arugula, and parsley lends a nice depth to the dish, with the flavors of the different greens really coming through.

While many find risotto to be an intimidating dish, it really isn’t at all—it just requires some attention during the liquid-adding stage to make sure the rice doesn’t dry out and burn. This recipe lays the steps out in a straightforward manner.

Next time, I won’t add the cream to the dish, as it makes the end product a touch too rich for my taste.

Bowl food at it’s best! Since this risotto is stuffed with a positively virtuous pile of greens, there’s simply no reason NOT to serve risotto any night of the week.

Risotto as a main course clocks in close to a 30-minute meal and reheats like a champ for work lunches. A couple of cheats will help make this simple recipe even easier. My personal cheat is using the microwave to heat the stock, reheating in 30-second bursts while cooking to keep it steamy hot. The other cheat is buying prewashed greens, which limits prep and means starting the recipe by skipping to step 4, knowing I could manage rinsing, coarse chopping, and wilting greens while babysitting the risotto.

I found the timing and directions descriptive and accurate, and the final result was so creamy, especially when enhanced by the (perhaps-superfluous) tiny swirl of heavy cream.

I heated 5 cups homemade vegetable broth. It’s always better to have more on hand in case the rice isn’t done when expected)

I found the risotto plenty tasty without tons of Parmigiano. I used about 1/3 cup on the first round, then served risotto, passing cheese at the table for adding to taste. It makes 4 main dish servings, 6 side dish

The greens and peas to rice ratio was great. The arugula’s taste wasn’t dominant, I’ll bet the greens could be any mild variety, or a combination of stronger and more tender greens. Escarole would be great.

About David Leite

David Leite has received three James Beard Awards for his writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

Hungry For More?

Cranberry Pistachio Cookies

These easy-to-make icebox cookies are bejeweled with cranberries and pistachios to create a standout holiday cookie.

3 hrs 35 mins

Turkey Tetrazzini

This creamy turkey tetrazzini with crispy panko-Parmesan topping is why you’ll want to make sure there’s leftover Thanksgiving turkey.

1 hr

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Not your everyday mashed potatoes, these are ridiculously rich and comforting thanks to butter, sour cream, Parmesan, and roasted garlic. Leftovers freeze and reheat beautifully.

1 hr

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    This was both beautiful and delicious! It’s the perfect spring risotto. I used homemade chicken broth (6 cups), doubled the spring peas, added about a cup of parboiled chopped asparagus, and eliminated the cream. Yum!

    1. Amy, I love your adaptation. It is such a great dish for this time of year–still a bit hearty while being fresh.