This traditional Italian risotto cooks arborio rice with tomatoes, basil and garlic. To top it off freshly grated parmesan cheese is stirred in to make it creamy and so delicious. You can even make this impressive meal in less than 30 minutes.
What is Italian Risotto Rice?
This famous Italian dish uses arborio rice which is different than other rice you may have cooked with. Arborio rice is short grain and starchy. These characteristics of the rice make it become creamy as it is cooked in broth. Unlike other rice dishes, risotto should be spread and served in a thin layer rather than a mound.
Cooking The Italian Risotto
Cooking the italian risotto is a bit different than with other rice recipes. With risotto you should start with a small pot where you’ll add your broth and heat it over medium heat. This gets added to the rice mixture in small portions the longer it cooks.
In a skillet you’ll want to heat olive oil over medium heat and sauté your shallots, garlic, tomatoes and pesto until the onions are translucent and the tomatoes have cooked down. Season with salt, pepper, sugar, and herbs.
Now you’re ready to add your rice. When you do, stir well and coat the arborio rice with the tomato mixture. Sauté a bit longer until the rice is toasted and deglaze the pan with a dry white wine. Continue to cook until the rice has soaked up all of the liquid.
Add the chicken broth one ladle at a time from the other pot. When you add the broth it should continue to simmer. Add enough broth so that it covers the rice. Let the rice soak up the broth before adding more. Cook until the rice is al-dente. This may take between 20-25 minutes.
Once done, top with basil and stir in parmesan until it gets even creamier. This is way different than boiling water/broth and cooking the rice with pot covered. With risotto there’s no need to cover the skillet. Plus, instead of starting with enough water to cook the rice you add as much broth as you need. You may not end up using all of it, or you may find that there’s not enough.
Substituting Arborio Rice
One of the closest substitutes for arborio rice if you cannot find this at your local market is orzo. Sometimes this too is hard to come by but it resembles the same shape as arborio rice in a lot of ways.
The biggest difference between the two is that arborio rice is gluten free while orzo is a pasta made out of wheat flour and therefore it is not gluten free. Using orzo in its place is an easy thing to do. You would cook it the same way but the biggest difference is going to be the cook time. It takes orzo about 7-10 minutes until it’s cooked all the way through. If you’re afraid you won’t get the same creaminess with orzo, don’t be. Orzo also gets creamy when cooked in a broth. It may not be exactly the same but the freshly grated cheese that’s folded in at the end will make up for that.
Serve Italian Risotto With…
Risotto is extremely good with chicken. This risotto would make for a perfect side to chicken piccata. You can serve it next to the risotto or even over top and drizzle the sauce over top for an even bolder flavor. Click here for the recipe!
You can also make this and serve it with this delicious roasted mediterranean chicken dinner. This chicken is marinated with a greek dressing and roasted in the oven over potatoes or any vegetables of your choice. This italian risotto would make for the perfect side. Click here for the recipe!
Italian Risotto Recipe with Tomatoes and Basil
- 6 cups chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 shallots minced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 large tomato finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons pesto
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Pinch of sugar
- 1 teaspoon italian seasoning
- 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
- Fresh basil cut into thin strips
- In a sauce pan, add your chicken broth and heat over medium heat. You don’t want it to boil. If it starts to simmer you can cut back the heat.
- In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high. Once heated through add the shallots and garlic. Sauté until the onion and garlic start to cook down and brown. Once done, add tomatoes, pesto, salt, pepper, sugar, and italian seasoning. Continue to simmer for a few more minutes.
- Add the rice and stir until covered in the tomato mixture. Deglaze the pan with wine and continue simmering and stirring until the rice absorbs the wine and the alcohol is cooked off.
- Add the hot chicken broth one ladle at a time. Make sure there’s enough liquid to cover the rice as it cooks. Stir occasionally to make sure it’s not sticking to your skillet. Continue adding liquid as the rice dries. Repeat until the rice is al-dente. This should take about 20-25 minutes.
- Once done, stir in parmesan cheese and fresh basil. Serve immediately.