Risotto is a delicious creamy Italian rice dish that requires patience to perfect, but once you have the technique down, you can easily make it a main meal by pairing it with protein and veggies. Here are 19 ideas of what to serve with risotto.
Risotto is a beautiful rice dish that is made with simple ingredients like rice, butter and parmesan cheese, but prepared in a way that elevates it to a restaurant-quality dish.
Some people get nervous about attempting to make creamy risotto for the first time. This is because it takes a little patience and the right technique to get just the right texture and rich flavor out of the recipe.
Risotto requires chefs to keep the dish at just the right temperature, stirring just often enough and adding just the right amount of hot stock or wine to the pan. Trip up any of these steps and you may find yourself with a gluey mess.
The good news is with the right technique, great risotto is a surprisingly easy dish to prepare. And once you have made it once, you won’t have to feel intimidated any longer and you can begin to explore the possibilities.
Risotto is a popular part of Italian cuisine because of its incredible flavor and versatility. Once you have the base of this creamy rice dish done, it pairs so perfectly with a wide variety of vegetables and proteins. It can be served as a delicious side dish or take center stage as the main dish. Mushroom risotto, shrimp risotto, parmesan risotto–the options are endless.
If you are excited about perfecting your own hearty risotto meal at home and need a few tasty side dishes to make it a complete meal, you have come to the right place. Here are a few of my favorite recipes to serve with risotto.
Risotto is traditionally made with arborio rice or carnaroli rice. This is a short-grain rice that has a lot of starch to it. This starch is important to the dish because as the rice cooks, it releases the starch and creates a creamy consistency–without any cream being added.
Long grain white rice will not produce the same result as arborio because it is less sticky and contains less starch, producing rice that is fluffy and not chewy.
Risotto is creamy and chewy. Risotto should be thin enough to require a ladle or spoon to serve it but thick enough that it won’t run all over the plate. In general it should have the consistency of thick porridge.
When you run a spoon through cooked risotto, it should leave a clear path in the pot for just a moment before filling back in. It will continue to thicken as it cools.
Risotto cooks slowly but while it cooks you need to keep adding small amounts of stock. It is important to add stock that is at the same temperature as your dish. Otherwise, you will disturb the cooking that is happening and end up with risotto that is not cooked evenly.
You can ensure your stock is kept at the correct temperature by keeping it in a separate pot on the stove next to your risotto, simmering at a low heat until you need it, and then transferring ladles of hot stock from one pot to the other during the cooking process.
Risotto does require a good amount of stirring to release some of the starch in the rice, but you do not want to stir it constantly while it cooks. My best advice is to stir your risotto each time you add stock to the pot. Stir until it is incorporated, about 25 seconds, and then let it rest.
Too much stirring will add air to your dish and also release more starch, making your risotto gluey. To avoid gluey risotto, be careful how much you stir.
Cooked cheese tends to separate and become greasy, where melted cheese will become creamy and delicious. You do not want to cook your cheese along with the rice but add it at the end, allowing it to melt into the dish.
The cheese helps to thicken the dish, so you want to add the cheese while there is still some liquid in the pot.
Risotto should be cooked uncovered so you can keep an eye on the dish and stir as needed. You want the liquid to evaporate as it cooks so you can continually add more to the pot.
- My Parmesan Risotto recipe has all the tips and tricks you need to prepare perfect risotto every time!
- This Tomato-Basil Risotto from Iowa Girl Eats is proof of how versatile this dish is. There are so many different ways to use fresh herbs and make a risotto dinner everyone can love.
- This Lemon Herb Risotto from Salt and Lavender is an excellent vegetarian option when you trade out chicken broth for vegetable broth.
- If you want to add vegetables or protein to your risotto, wait until it is fully cooked before incorporating it. Adding too many ingredients to your risotto too soon will mess with the chemistry of the recipe and may not turn out well.
- Adding the stock to your risotto slowly is what allows the creamy texture to happen. Adding too much stock at one time will make your rice fluffy but not as creamy.
- Risotto is cooked at a low and slow simmer. Trying to rush it will result in rice that is burnt and unevenly cooked. Take your time and keep your temperature as even as possible throughout the process.
What to Serve With Risotto
Protein: Shrimp, chicken breast, steak, salmon, cod, pork chops, crispy chicken thighs, prime rib, crispy soy tofu
Vegetables: Peas, mushrooms, asparagus, broccoli, green beans, red onion
Sides: Green salad, garlic bread, French bread, sweet potatoes, arugula salad, caprese salad, spinach salad
Recipes to Serve with Risotto
Roasted Asparagus and Carrots
This recipe for simple Roasted Asparagus and Carrots (from Marley’s Menu) makes for the perfect, healthy, 30-minute side dish to accompany any main dish.
Tuscan Kale Salad
This Tuscan kale salad recipe (from Foodworthfeed) is super simple, and absolute addicting. Shaved kale is tossed in a healthy Parmesan and tahini dressing and piled high with toasty lemon breadcrumbs.
Roasted Lemon Chicken
Roasted lemon chicken (from What A Girl Eats) is one of the easiest recipes ever. Everyone should know how to make a basic roasted chicken. This is the Italian version, Pollo Al Limone. These days too many recipes are just a competition to see who can add the most ingredients. Just three simple ingredient produce the moistest and most flavorful chicken ever.
Sautéed rapini (from Christina’s Cucina) is a simple side dish of Italian style broccoli. It is very nutritious, a tiny bit bitter, and definitely one of my favorite green vegetables. Use it in pasta and polenta dishes, too!
This Roasted Zucchini Recipe (from The Forked Spoon) is so delicious and so easy to make. Ready in about 20 minutes, fresh zucchini squash is tossed with olive oil, simple seasonings, and grated parmesan cheese then roasted in the oven until tender. The perfect weeknight side dish.
Ciabatta Garlic Bread
Ciabatta Garlic Bread (from Marcellina in Cucina) is absolutely the best side ever and you won’t believe how easy it is to make at home!
Marinated Tomatoes with Basil
Marinated tomatoes (from Budget Delicious) are the perfect summer side dish. Marinated tomato salad is so simple to prepare and goes perfect with grilled foods and tastes great on its own. You’ll want to keep a bowl of this sliced tomato salad in your fridge all summer long.
Sesame Spinach Salad
You will love this easy and nutty Sesame Spinach Salad Recipe (from Recipes From A Pantry). It is healthy and makes a perfect side for any dinner, potluck, BBQ and lunch.
Cucumber Tomato Salad
This Cucumber Tomato Salad recipe (from Recipes From A Pantry) is a flavourful low carb side dish that is perfect for quick and easy midweek meals.
Arugula Lentil Salad
Arugula Lentil Salad (from Hurry The Food Up) with easy to find ingredients. It’s simple, tasty, vegan and really healthy!
Italian Stuffed Mushrooms
An easy holiday side dish or appetizer, these Italian stuffed mushrooms (from Lynn’s Way of Life) are full of parsley, garlic, parmesan cheese, and bread crumbs. This recipe features meaty cremini mushrooms, but this recipe works with classic button mushrooms as well!
Baked Lemon Chicken
Tender baked lemon chicken (from I Heart Naptime) coated in a flavorful lemon butter sauce. An easy 30-minute meal that requires only 7 simple ingredients!
Pan Seared Scallops with Garlic
Learn how to sear scallops in just 10 minutes! This EASY pan fried sea scallops recipe (from Wholesome Yum) has a perfect golden crust and savory garlic butter sauce.
Bruschetta with Mozzarella
This bruschetta with mozzarella (from Rich and Delish) is the most perfect appetizer to serve for any occasion! It is light, fresh, easy to make, quick, and always a crowd-pleaser!
Sauteed Leeks and Peas
Leeks are one of my favourite veg, and this recipe for sautéed leeks and peas (from Cinnamon & Kale) is one of the nicest ways to enjoy them. Both vegetables are naturally quite sweet, and complement each other really well. And it’s a great way to sneak 2 veggies onto your plate!
Air Fryer Salmon Steaks
This Air Fryer Salmon Steak recipe (from Savory Thoughts) is inspired by Asian flavors. It’s the perfect healthy dinner recipe that can be made in under 30 minutes with only a few ingredients.
Italian Beef Braciole
This beef braciole recipe (from An Edible Mosaic) is a spin off the beautiful classic Italian dish: rolled and stuffed steak that’s slow-cooked with tomato sauce to tender perfection. Instead of a more traditional breadcrumb mixture, we stuff it with a cheesy, garlicky, spinach filling.
Easy Crusty French Baguette
This Easy Crusty French Baguette (from Served from Scratch) is simple enough to be made at home but tastes just like you bought it at your local bakery!