Risotto is a classic Italian rice dish that has become very popular over the years. This creamy rice soup is traditionally served with Parmesan cheese, butter, garlic, onion, mushrooms, peas, and other ingredients.
The choice of side dishes depends on the occasion – and we have put together eleven of the most popular side dishes for you to enjoy alongside your mouth-watering risotto; read on to learn more!
What Is Risotto?
Risotto is a traditional Italian dish made by slowly stirring hot broth into a creamy rice base. The result is a light and fluffy rice dish that is perfect for entertaining guests.
The key to making risotto is to start with good quality stock – this is the true secret to rich and flavorful risotto.
For best results, create your own homemade stock – this is a simple process, involving boiling bones and vegetables in water for about 20 minutes. You can use chicken, beef, lamb, fish, or vegetable stock.
The next step is to combine the stock with white wine and allow it to simmer while you begin preparing the rice. Once the rice is ready, stir it into the simmering liquid and continue to stir until all the liquid is absorbed.
Continue adding stock and stirring until the desired consistency is reached. This will take anywhere from 15-30 minutes, depending on how much liquid you have added.
You can also add some cheese to the risotto if you want, but be careful not to overcook it or the cheese will become rubbery.
Risotto Side Dishes
So, just which side dishes work best with a tasty risotto? We took a look at some of the best choices to add something a little extra special to your meal – read on to discover a brand-new favorite!
Asparagus is one of the healthiest vegetables out there. It’s loaded with vitamins A, C, E, K, B6, folate, iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, and vitamin D.
It also contains fiber, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids. You can serve asparagus in many ways – steamed, roasted, grilled, sautéed, stir-fried, boiled, microwaved, or even raw.
Asparagus can be served alongside risotto as a side when roasted and seasoned with salt and pepper. For an extra kick, add some lemon juice and olive oil.
Broccoli is another healthy vegetable that is rich in nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin K, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Folate, Potassium, Phosphorus, Zinc, Copper, Manganese, Selenium, and vitamin D.
It also contains dietary fiber, protein, and essential amino acids.
Broccoli can be served alongside risotto as a side dish when cooked and tossed with olive oil and Parmesan cheese for a mouth-watering result.
3. Seared Scallops
Another popular side dish for risotto is seared scallops; they are delicious and easy to prepare. Simply season them with salt and pepper and sear them in a pan until golden brown.
They go well with any type of risotto, but especially those made with seafood, as the flavors complement each other perfectly.
4. Roasted Butternut Squash
Butternut squash is a great addition to risotto because it adds a sweet flavor to the dish, and it can also be served alongside the main event. To make this side dish, simply roast the butternut squash by baking it in the oven until tender.
Once done, remove from the oven and allow to cool before cutting into cubes. Season with salt and pepper and toss with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
5. Grilled Portabello Mushrooms
Portabello mushrooms are a favorite among vegetarians because they taste similar to meat. They are high in protein and low in fat, and the distinctive taste allows them to pair nicely with risotto.
To grill portabellos, brush them with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Grill them on medium heat until soft and slightly charred. Remove from the grill and let cool before slicing.
6. Creamy Polenta
Polenta is a staple food in Italy and consists of a cornmeal recipe that is usually served topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and basil leaves. It is a simple yet delicious side dish that goes well with the risotto.
To make polenta, start by boiling water in a large pot. Add 1 cup of cornmeal and stir continuously until all lumps disappear. Reduce the heat to low and cook for about 20 minutes.
Stir occasionally so that the mixture doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. When the polenta is ready, pour it onto a plate and top with grated Parmesan cheese and fresh basil leaves.
7. Roasted Shrimp
Shrimp is a versatile ingredient that can be used in many dishes. It can be added to salads, soups, pasta, rice, and risotto.
To make shrimp salad, combine cooked shrimp with mayonnaise, chopped celery, green onions, and parsley. Toss together and refrigerate until ready to use.
This can then be served alongside the risotto for a tasty combination.
8. Roasted Carrots
Carrots are one of the best vegetables to add to dishes because they are full of vitamins A, B, C, E, and folic acid.
They are also very nutritious and contain potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, manganese, and selenium.
To make roasted carrots, peel and cut them into thin slices. Place them in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper.
Mix together and spread out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes. Let cool before serving.
Roasted carrots work well alongside risotto because their sweetness complements the savory flavors of the dish.
9. Oven-Baked Chicken
Chicken is an excellent source of protein and works well with risotto dishes as it has a mild flavor. To bake chicken breasts, place them in a shallow pan and season with salt and pepper.
Drizzle with olive oil and cover with plastic wrap. Cook in the oven at 400 degrees F for 40-45 minutes or until cooked through, and then serve alongside the risotto.
10. Spicy Garlic Broccoli
Broccoli is another vegetable that pairs well with risotto because its mild flavor blends well with other ingredients. To prepare broccoli for cooking, wash it thoroughly and pat dry with paper towels.
Cut off the florets and slice the stems into small pieces. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté for 3-4 minutes, or until golden brown.
Add the broccoli and cook for 5 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat.
11. Marinated Olives
Olives are a great addition to any meal, and the salty, slightly bitter taste is an ideal accompaniment to a smooth risotto dish.
They are often paired with seafood, poultry, meat, and pasta, meaning that this is a great side option for a host of risotto options.
To marinate olives, soak them in cold water overnight. Drain and rinse them several times. Combine with lemon juice, olive oil, and herbs such as rosemary, thyme, oregano, and sage. Refrigerate for up to two weeks for the best taste.
How To Make Risotto Rice
Rice is the main ingredient in risotto, so it’s important to choose high-quality rice when making this dish.
There are many varieties of rice available, including short grain, long grain, basmati, wild rice, jasmine, and Arborio – this tends to be the most common.
Each type of rice has different characteristics and uses, so read labels carefully before purchasing.
- Short Grain White Rice – This type of rice is used most frequently in risotto recipes. It cooks quickly and absorbs liquids easily.
- Long Grain White Rice – Long-grain white rice is similar to short-grain rice, except it takes longer to cook, and tends to be less sticky, making it easier to work with.
- Basmati Rice – Basmati rice is known for its fragrant aroma and nutty flavor. It is considered one of the finest types of rice due to its delicate texture and subtle fragrance.
- Wild Rice – Wild rice is a grass seed native to North America. It contains more protein than regular rice and is higher in iron and B vitamins.
- Jasmine Rice – Jasmine rice is a popular choice among chefs because of its sweet aroma and tender texture. It is very versatile and works well in both savory and sweet dishes
- Arborio Rice – The most popular option for risotto, arborio rice is a medium-grained variety of rice that has been specially selected for its ability to absorb large amounts of liquid – hence its place as the top choice for risotto dishes.
Risotto is a tasty Italian classic that combines creamy rice with flavorful broth.
With our ultimate guide to risotto sides, you can enhance your meal even further by serving up delicious side dishes – as if your favorite risotto combination couldn’t taste any better!