spinach and taleggio risotto

Sorry vegans, I am ready to give up meat but don't take away my cheese! Besides the fact that possible ethical concerns for making cheese from animal milk are unclear, it is an age old tradition which does not seem to harm the donors as far as we can see. Cheese in all its varieties is just so delicious. Taleggio is such a lustful rich creamy product, also probably high in fat, that we savor occasionally though normally limit our access to. On the other hand parmigiano is relatively low in fat and not that much is needed in typical pasta recipes, so we are regular users. Vegan cheese substitutes? I don't think so.

There are an infinite variety of risotto variations. The basic recipe allows easy spontaneous ingredient combination, especially plant based additives. This particular one was mandated by a hunk of taleggio sitting in our fridge, hoping to inspire some creative application. The idea of melting tiny cubes of this gooey cheese into a risotto was introduced to bob forty years earlier, in a pair of regional Italian regional cooking oversized cookbooks in Italian gifted by friends but never used. Only one recipe implanted into bob's long term memory, a simple basic risotto only with taleggio as the star ingredient. Yes, there was a very big food porn shot of the end product that helped with the durability of the idea.

So a quick internet search on the terms "risotto taleggio" turned up a spinach and taleggio recipe as the first hit, from NYTimes Cooking, which my university gives me access to by default so no pay wall worries. From some UK Italian restaurant which used nettles instead but who has nettles? Even in Italy it is rare to come across this wierd greens ingredient (called ortiche), at least from bob's 40 years of Italian supermarket tourism.  We subsituted a leek in place of the red onion, it seemed more consistent with our past leek and celery base for creamy soups. And instead of pureeing the cooked baby spinach, we chopped it to tiny bits with a big Santoku knife, saving another cleaning of the food processor. And we added parmigiano for extra creaminess, subtracting the 4 T butter called for by the NYTimes, using olive oil instead.

Putting the taleggio in the freezer for 30 minutes was insufficient to harden it enough to be able to cut into 3/8 inch cubes without it consistently sticking to the knife in the process. Annoying but manageable. Maybe a bit longer cool down next time. Practice makes perfect, or at least better.

The final product here impressed all three of us, just so creamy and flavorful. A repeater recipe for sure.


NYTimes:   dr bob cooking team (2/3 scale down):
1 1/2 c Arborio rice   1 c Arborio rice
8 oz cold taleggio   8 oz cold taleggio (colder works better), 3/8 inch cubes
10 oz/8 packed cups spinach, any thick stems removed   8 oz baby spinach, no need to worry about stems
6 T unsalted butter   2 T olive oil
1 medium red onion, finely diced   1 leek, food processed with
3 c finely diced celery   2 c (?) celery
2 garlic cloves, finely grated or minced   2 garlic cloves, pressed into the food processed celery and leek
1 t fine sea salt, more as needed   1 t salt, whatever type
3/4 c dry white wine   1/2 c dry white wine
3 1/2 c good vegetable or chicken stock   1 veggie broth cube, with adequate boiling water added
    1/2 c freshly grated parmigiano


  1. Chill down the taleggio in the freezer, but not too long that it freezes solid. We don't know how long this is yet. Then slice into 3/8 inch slices, then square strips, then cubes dropping them on a big plate.
  2. Precook the spinach by steaming it in a big pot with a little water till it wilts down. Drain and squeeze out the liquid. Then either puree it with 1 T unsalted butter or simply dice into tiny bits like we did. Set aside.
  3. Get a teapot of water boiling for the risotto broth addition. We just use a veggie broth cube directly into the cooking risotto adding boiling water as needed.
  4. Food process the leek and celery together, press in the garlic, then saute with olive oil until translucent, maybe 7 minutes.
  5. Add the rice and salt and stir around, then evaporate off the white wine, say 3 minutes.
  6. Then add the veggie broth cube, chopped up to dissolve quicker.
  7. Begin adding the boiling water a half cup or more at a time in the usual risotto process.
  8. When the rice is ready, remove from the heat and stir in the parmigiano and 2 T unsalted butter till it incorporates evenly.
  9. Carefully drop in the taleggio cubes and every so gently stir into the risotto.
  10. Serve immediately.


  1. NYTimes recipe for Spinach Risotto With Taleggio, based on the nettle risotto from River Café in London. Nettles are scarce everywhere.
  2. dr bob cooking team greatest hits in the risotto department.
  3. Our leek celery base gives the foundation for our best soups: cream of chestnut etc soup and cream of artichoke soup.
  4. Illustrations available.
risottospinachtaleggio.htm: 22-jun-2020 [what, ME cook? © 1984 dr bob enterprises]