brown butter risotto with spinach and pan-fried shrimp

Risotto can be a simple, one-pot wonder to please a crowd or just yourself on a cold winter night. You can add many different combinations of vegetables, protein, cheese, and spices depending on your preferences and taste. This recipe starts with brown butter, which yields a deep, rich, and nutty flavor, perfect as a complement to Parmesan cheese. The spinach and shrimp provide extra color and texture. I would suggest pairing this with the white wine of your choice - and you can also use some of the wine to deglaze the rice while preparing the risotto.


  • Butter (1/2 cup, or 1 stick)

  • White onion (1 whole, medium sized)

  • Arborio rice (2 cups)

  • White wine (1/2 cup)

  • Chicken broth (6 cups)

  • Parmesan cheese (1 cup, grated)

  • Spinach (2 cups, fresh)

  • Lemon juice (1 teaspoon)

  • Olive oil (1 tablespoon)

  • Shrimp (1 pound, large shell-on, uncooked when you purchase; remove shell and vein from each shrimp before cooking)

  • Salt (1 teaspoon)

  • Fresh ground pepper (1 teaspoon)


  1. Add the stick of butter to a large pot (Dutch Oven) or deep skillet.

  2. Cook the butter on low heat until a deep brown color (about 10 minutes); stir occasionally to prevent burning.

  3. While the butter is cooking, chop the onion into small, bite-sized pieces.

  4. Add the onion to the butter once the butter has browned. Stir the butter and onion for about five minutes until the onions are cooked through and slightly caramelized.

  5. Add the rice and stir with a wooden spoon to evenly coat the rice in the butter and toast it over the heat. Continue stirring slowly for 2 to 3 minutes.

  6. Deglaze the rice with the wine; use the wooden spoon to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot.

  7. Add 1/2 cup of broth at a time; each time you add broth, stir and cook for 3 or 4 minutes until the broth is absorbed. Repeat until you use all the broth.

  8. Taste the rice to check that it is cooked through. Add more broth if necessary.

  9. Once the rice is cooked and very creamy, add the cheese and spinach and stir until spinach is wilted and cooked and evenly distributed throughout the rice.

  10. In a separate frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shrimp and make sure they are evenly distributed in the pan so they get even heat. 

  11. Cook the shrimp for 2 minutes and then flip; cook another 2 minutes until the shrimp are opaque and pink. Remove the shrimp from heat.

  12. To serve, stir in the salt and pepper into the risotto and then pour risotto into a large bowl. Top with the shrimp and additional Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle with extra salt and pepper.