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|