Monday, August 29, 2011

Meatless Monday - Pesto Risotto

It isn't always easy trying to figure out what to make for you on Mondays. There is always a little extra pressure to make something new and exciting and still be acceptable to the vegetarians in the group.

I was riding the train home from the city thinking about it and I have plenty of basil, besides a colleague from Germany prodded me the other day that I had not yet prepared a risotto, so Pesto Risotto seemed a natural fit. I also used some of the sweet butter I made back in March. I get excited when I'm dicing the shallots. "I'm cooking with shallots... that I grew!"  I didn't have any pine nuts  for the pesto so I substituted walnuts.

It turned out to be quite filling and good, the creamy base notes of risotto punctuated by the high notes of the basil and garlic. A lovely chord indeed!

Make the pesto first:

3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup walnuts
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 cups loosely packed basil leaves
2/3 +/- olive oil

Turn on food processor and drop in garlic. Process until finely chopped.
Turn it off, add the basil, cheese, salt, pepper, nuts.
Whizz until all is finely chopped, with motor running, add oil slowly until incorporated but not yet smooth.

Set aside.

Now the risotto:

1.25 cups arborio rice
1.5 cups white wine
4 cups vegetable broth
4 tablespoons butter divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 small shallots finely diced
big pinch of salt
big pinch of grounf black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesano Romano
1/4 cup pesto
Basil to garnish

In a medium pot over medium heat  add the wine and the broth.
Heat to simmer and then reduce heat to keep barely simmering

In a 4 quart pot, add two tablespoons butter and olive oil

When butter has melted, add the shallots and cook for three minutes until shallots are soft but not browned.

Add the rice and stir to coat with butter oil mixture, cook stirring constantly about 2 minutes.

Add 1/2 cup simmering wine broth mixture and cook - stirring until moisture is absorbed
Continue adding broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until it is absorbed before adding next bit of broth.

Repeat until rice is tender, looks creamy but is still al dente - about 15 - 20 minutes

Stir in cheese, salt pepper and pesto.

Garnish with basil leaf and serve immediately. Add a side salad for a complete dinner.

Until next time, Eat Well & Keep Digging!

The Gastronomic Gardener
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Twitter - @gastrogardener
email: thegastronomicgardener at gmail dot com


  1. Looks good. I have never tried to make risotto before. Maybe for lunch tomorrow!

  2. You wouldn't need to be a vegetarian to enjoy that one. We have lots of pesto in the freezer right now, in blocks made in ice-cube trays. It makes it very convenient to add some intense Basil flavour to anything you make, like soups and stews.

  3. I think you are correct Mark, it seems pretty universally appealing. I like it on toast!

  4. I love this dish, David, and your rendition could have been written by a family member. Besides, any dish that incorporates pesto is just fine with me. I can't get enough of the stuff this time of year.

  5. ChgoJohn, thanks for the huge compliment! I love pesto as well - on toast, new potatos, topping scrambled eggs.

  6. Your pesto risotto is such a vivid color and must have been delicious.

  7. Hi backroadjournal! Yes it was delicious, I may go heavier on the garlic in the future but it was great to use the basil. Thanks for stopping by!


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