Green risotto with clams*

Lots of cooks make a big, hairy deal about risotto. You have to keep your stock simmering on the stove and you have to stir non-stop (counterclockwise, thank you very much, and with a wooden spoon). It’s not true. Trust me on this one. I’ve done the scientific experiment, blind taste test and all, and none of that is necessary.

Green risotto with clams

2 t. neutral oil (I use canola)
1 onion, chopped
1/2 large fennel bulb, chopped
1/2 c. chopped green olives
2/3 c. arborio rice
2/3 c. white vermouth or dry white wine
2/3 c. clam juice
1 c. stock, water, or a combination (plus a little more if necessary)
1 c. chopped spinach
1/2 c. chopped cilantro
24 littleneck clams in the shell, cleaned

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and fennel and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the olives and rice and cook another minute or two.

2. Add the vermouth or wine, and cook until it is almost completely evaporated. Add the other liquids and bring everything to a boil. Turn it down to a simmer and cover the pan. Cook until rice is almost completely cooked, about 15-20 minutes (depending on your rice and your heat). Over the course of that time, check it once or twice to make sure there’s enough liquid. If it looks like it will cook fully before the liquid has evaporated, leave the lid off for a while.

3. Stir in the spinach, place the clams on top of the rice, and cover the pot. As the rice finished cooking, the steam will open the clams.

4. Take out the clams, stir in the cilantro, and serve the rice with clams on top.